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The Life of a Film Reviewer
by Spotlight Mike

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What Readers Think of Me

What Readers Think of Me

I was a movie reviewer long before Matchflick. In my former life, I was the go-to guy for my co-workers wanting an opinion on a particular movie. When I wrote for my hospital's newsletter, movie reviews were often added as filler for the regular news. And I would from time to time comment as an independent commentator on various websites.

Naturally, when I got an offer to have a personal platform to review films on my own page, well, how could I resist? Now, this writer is not what you would call an avid movie-goer. When I have the disposable income (emphasis on when), my prime method of disbursement would be at the cinema. However, most of my movie viewing is done at home. Though cable and Netflix, movie options are endless. My movie preferences, however, were not. As I've formerly always remarked, I'm a guy. I have simple needs. Gimme a wide-screen HDTV, a big, honkin' bowl of popcorn and a beer, and I'm happy. I do enjoy the times I go to the movies. I enjoy the whole movie experience - except the crowds, which is why I prefer the early-bird matinees.

Lately, I've had the good fortune to have independent movie producers send me stripped-down, pre-release DVD's, or screeners to review for their companies. Because of that, I get a steady supply of new movies, not necessarily mainstream big-studio blockbusters, but good, solid entertainment from people who love making movies; making a profit is a happy bonus. By changing my perception of movies, specifically, money doesn't always equal quality, you develop an acute appreciation for these small films.

I'd like to share with you my revised "Ten Commandments" when viewing, and reviewing a movie:

What My Wife Thinks I Do

What My Wife Thinks I Do
First and foremost -WATCH A LOT OF MOVIES. The more you watch, the more you’ll notice. You’ll see the formulas, the regulars that always work together, even patterns and quirks actors and directors routinely put in their movies. The more things in movies become obvious, the better you can relate them to your readers.

2- Don't pigeonhole yourself into watching only a single genre, or a couple of genre. Before reviewing movies for independent filmmakers, this writer had a very very small, very finite preference for entrainment options. To quote the great philosopher, Jeff Foxworthy:
I'd like a beer and I'd like to see something naked. And something blowing up. Since then, I've exposed myself to nearly all genres, the dreaded films, which I used to avoid (I would often brag that I had never seen any film up for Academy Awards), even the so-called chick flicks. Truthfully, I still don't go out of my way to view certain genres, but I no longer avoid them.

3- As mentioned previously, money does not equal quality. Whiz-bang special effects, big-ticket superstars, and multi-million dollar advertising campaigns will never replace passion. I look for the passion, and, yes, the fun that goes into making a movie. This not to be confused with bloopers. You can see, even in the schlockiest of productions, what kind of passion was put into a film.

4- Try not to pre-judge a movie. Schlock companies like The Asylum or Troma put out movies to entertain, even at the cost of self- deprecation. The end result is entertainment.

5- Look past the no-name actors, or vintage celebrities in a film. Most are not in the movies at this time merely for
What I'd Like to Think I Do

What I'd Like to Think I Do
a paycheck. The no-name actors just want to get their face on the screen; the vintage celebrities want to get back what they once had. Judge them on their performances, not their names.

6- Appreciate the work that goes into a film. Actors on the screen are just the tip of the iceberg. Study the music they use, the camerawork for effect, the editing, etc. One small faux pas during the movie, and it can be sensed by the audience.

7- If you're ever lucky enough to have an actual filming of a movie in your city, try to go to watch the process. It is a tedious, time-consuming process, and most if it will be imperceptible when you see it on the screen. This writer was very fortunate enough to have very small parts in a few movies. Yet, the time and detail taken on those infinitesimal contributions was amazing. Having watched the finished product, my contribution to the film last a total of a few seconds. Yet, you develop an appreciation for the movie making process.

8- Read other reviewers. Oftentimes, by reading the reviews of others, you can pick up observations you might have overlooked, not necessarily to copy their views, but to see another person's perceptions, and perhaps enrich your next review.

9 - Do your research. Find out a movie's premise, watch trailers, find out who is directing, acting, doing the editing, etc. With that, you walk into the movie having an idea what to expect. I wouldn't go as far as seeking out spoilers, or anything that would take away the "surprise" in any movie.

10- Most important, you are a movie viewer first, a movie reviewer second. Watch a movie for the enjoyment of the film, not the work of reviewing it. See the movie

as your wife, your children, your friends would. As a reviewer, you must see the movie as the average movie-goer would. You can discuss the nuances in subtext, the philosophy of the director's approach, even the subtle historical references buried in the film. But when it comes down to the essence of reviewing a film, there is one question, and one question alone you are obligated to answer to your readers: are YOU going to like the movie.

As a cheap plug for the site, Matchflick wants to know - what new movies have you seen? Did you like or dislike them? And if you have an opinion on the movie, you do have an obligation (that’s right - I said it!) as a Matchflicker to share your opinions. Matchflick.com is one of the only, if not THE only movie site on the Internet where we don't have featured movie reviewers - YOU are the featured reviewer. To the many faithful reviewers who religiously post reviews, we are very grateful. What is deficient is the number of reviews for newer movies, new releases and re-releases. New movies come out ever week, in truth, they come out daily - that’s how many options you have for new movies, and our membership visit the site to find out the What's-what on the latest releases, as well as forgotten chestnuts from the past.

Get your fifteen minutes of fame - become a movie reviewer and share your opinions. It's free, and it doesn't hurt.


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Feb 27, 2012 8:19 PM
[X] delete
Very well said Mike...really enjoyed this one!
Mike Thomas
Feb 27, 2012 8:24 PM
[X] delete
Thanks, Tim. What I was going for was a meme for a Film Reviewer. I haven't seen one, so I made one up.

Glad you liked the column.
Feb 27, 2012 10:51 PM
[X] delete
my column is back... its been a while but I have been feeling the urge to write!
Mike Thomas
Feb 27, 2012 11:10 PM
[X] delete
Cool! When are you up?
Feb 27, 2012 11:30 PM
[X] delete
not sure lol this sunday or next.... ill be focusing on the upcoming horror convention for the first few columns...

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I Could Be Wrong
Every other Wednesday

Until I find my footing, I'd like to vent on the state of today's movies. I will occasionally praise a movie that piques my fancy. But it's a whole lot more fun railing against a person's work who makes more money on a single project than I would make if I lived 500 years. Oh, I will usually make observations on movies rather than films. The difference? Films are critically acclaimed, while movies are just darned good fun.

Other Columns
Other columns by Spotlight Mike:

Adventures in WonderCon

In Praise of the Movie Producer



The Real Unsung Heroes

All Columns

Spotlight Mike
Born in the Fifties with an extreme phobia for movies in general, I became obsessed with movies when I broke that phobia with the first movie I actually enjoyed, “The Ten Commandments.” I particularly like the kind of movie where you can put your brain on hold. I get enough reality and drama in my everyday life; I refuse to pay someone to subject me to the same.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Spotlight Mike by clicking here.

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