Writing Assignment: Film Critique Essay #2 – Character Narrative Development – LODT

Film Critique Assignment – Film Critique 2 – Characters

Students will submit two, 2-4page typewritten film critiques during the semester. Critique will be focused on two of the full-length feature film screened in class. Each critique will have particular requirements (see below) based both on the content of the film as well as class readings and discussion. Critiques will include a minimum of 2 academic sources and 1 popular source.

Character Narrative Development Essay #2 – Lords of Dogtown (10%)

2pp 3-4 refs = C range

3 pp 5-6 refs = B range

4 pp 7-8 refs = A range

Writing about Narrative and Character Development

Although many films vary from classical structure, one paradigm has dominated narrative film production for the last hundred years. The classical paradigm emphasizes dramatic unity, plausible motivations, and coherence of its constituent parts. Classical plot structures are linear, beginning with an exposition that situates the characters in the place and time and introduces the protagonist and the main conflict of the film. The following scenes intensify this conflict in a rising pattern of action. This escalation is treated in terms of case-effect, with each scene implying a link to the next. The conflict builds to its maximum tension in the climax. After the climax, the dramatic intensity subsides in the resolution. The story ends with some kind of formal closure.

Syd Field, the author of several noted handbooks on screenwriting, claims that the classical paradigm plays out in film in terms of a three-act structure: setup, confrontation, and resolution.

What is three-act structure (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)?

Basic Structure, 6-12 paragraph essays, 2pp.-4pp., with Title page and References pages. APA format.

Title Page
Title page should include:

Running Head (left justified, upper case letters, paper title)
Title of Paper (be specific here!)
Author Name
Class Name & Section if applicable
Date (e.g. 4 January 2007)
Pg #s in upper right hand corner preceded by truncated running head title
Upper left corner TITLE (upper case) – this is a running head
Except for running head and pg numbers, everything else on title page is centered and double spaced
12 pt. Font only
Introduction (1-2 paras)
Optional – cite an interesting quote to frame the discussion
Topic sentence
Statement of purpose (what you will write about and discuss do in the paper)
Goals of paper
Basic film info
State characters and Theme
Background (1-2 paras)

History around skateboarding
The time period of the film
Larger social issues of the time
Development of skate subculture
Character Narratives (4-6 paras total)

Stacy Peralta & the American Dream (1-2 paras)

identify the main theme of each paragraph
cite academic research
cite EG from the film
Tony Alva – Consequences of Success (1-2 paras)

identify the main theme of each paragraph
cite academic research
cite EG from the film
Jay Adams & Art, Identity, & Commercialism (1-2 paras)

identify the main theme of each paragraph
cite academic research
cite EG from the film
Conclusion (1-2 paras)

Summarize the main content of paper
Wrap up main themes of paper
Reference any additional journal materials
Current state of skate subculture
Final thoughts and looking forward, larger social importance

New page unto itself
APA style is usually cited: Last Name, First Name 1st Letter. (year). Article title. Journal title, vol, pp. .
e.g. citation: Johnson, B. (2007). Learning to read the media. Journal of Popular Culture, 11, 124 – 135.
See webct handouts for detailed APA citation examples
See Purdue owl link for more on APA
*Film critique: Some things to pay attention to:

A film critique is somewhat different from a review. A critique is an analytical essay on a film, in which you state your opinion on the “aesthetic quality” of the film and then give your reasons for your opinion. Do not limit yourself to reacting to the film (“I loved it !”) and do not use generic terms like “incredible,” “wonderful,” “marvelous,” etc. Unlike a review, you assume that the reader has already seen the movie; you do not need to give an extensive plot summary; you do not need to hide plot information so as not to spoil the surprise of the viewer; and you do need to be consistently analytical and critical. You might focus in your review on whether the main elements of the film come together to make a coherent, meaningful and moving film. You should probably focus on the following:

Does the movie want to be more than entertainment (ambition)?
How strong is the script (and dialogue)?
Are the characters believable?
Are the actors appropriately cast?
What is the theme of the film? Is it obvious or only subtly evident? Do the plot, acting, and other elements in the film successfully impart the theme to the viewer?
Is the setting/locale appropriate and effective?
Is the cinematography effective? Does the film make certain use of color, texture, lighting, etc. to enhance the theme, mood, setting?
Is the sound track effective and appropriate? Is the music appropriate and functional, or is it inappropriate and obtrusive?
Are camera angles used effectively? Are they ever used for a particular effect?
Are there special effects (and/or special effects makeup) in the film? If so, are they essential to the plot? Are they handled skillfully? Do they serve a necessary function, or does the film sacrifice plot or characterization for the effects themselves?
Does the film make use of symbols or symbolism? What purpose do the symbols serve? Are they used effectively? How does the symbolism in the film contribute to or enhance the film’s overall theme?
Most importantly, how does the film-maker either accomplish or fall short of their objective.

It is very important to focus the attention of the reader to examples that support your point(s). Just like in a legal case, you must provide “evidence” from the film to support your position. Therefore, taking good notes is essential to writing a solid critique.

In a perfect world, you would watch the film more than once after you had established a ‘game plan’ for your critique; that way you could scour the movie for examples of the success or failure of the movie to reach those goals.

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