Archive for April, 2012

My Life as a Film Critic

By Jennifer Hanson

The film industry is one that I’ve always paid a lot of attention to. In particular, I’ve always been interested in contemporary cinema. This means that, from a young age, I’ve followed the critical reception of films.

In my youth, I’d excitedly read the entertainment section of the Winnipeg Free Press in order to read the printed film reviews. This was serious for me: I would actually feel angry if the published critic disliked a film that I thought looked good. As I grew older, I discovered Rotten Tomatoes, a website that compiles the ratings of hundreds of renowned film critics. Rotten Tomatoes had a lot of power over me as a teenager. I’d see a movie I had originally written off based on popular critical consensus, or I’d skip a movie I was originally interested in if the critics were slamming it. The reviews in the Free Press were still important, but I quickly found critics that had more sway over me than the local critics. I quickly realized that the Internet was the future of film criticism.

The year I discovered Rotten Tomatoes is the year I started my first blog. At 13, I began writing film reviews on my Rotten Tomatoes blog. I was convinced I was destined for Internet super stardom at the time (which didn’t end up becoming a reality, and likely never will). My reviews were silly, my writing was amateur, but I was dipping my toes in the water for the first time, and it brought me great joy. I continued blogging on Rotten Tomatoes on and off until I was 19.

By the time I entered the Creative Communications program, I’d had years of practice writing for blogs and for the web, period. One of our class requirements was to write a weekly blog entry. The subject of my blog was easy: film. I found myself writing more than the weekly minimum, and it truly became a hobby for me. When it came time to pitch my Independent Professional Project (a major, marketable project all CreComm students complete), I knew just what I’d do: I’d watch 200 movies I’d never seen before, and blog about each one and about the experience in general. My pitch was accepted, and 200 Movies, 1 Woman was born.

Watching 200 movies in 8 months is tough. During the summer before my second year, I watched a movie almost every day (two movies on the weekend!). Once school started, I watched a movie every other day, which is significant, as my work load was incredibly heavy. During this time, I discovered so much about cinema, and “found” many new favourite movies. It was a lot of hard work and discipline, but it was a very rewarding project. Plus, it’s neat to be able to tell people I watched 200 movies in 8 months!

My project has been finished for over a year, but I’m still writing reviews and blogging about movies. I generally watch at least 3 movies a week, and I see a movie at the theatre a minimum of once every two weeks. I’m also proud to be a part of the Internet film community, which is made up of many talented and passionate critics. Through Twitter and my blog, I’ve connected with many of these critics, and reading their work is another positive that has come out of my project.