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How to write reviews that appear on Watch TCM film profiles? Why are most so useless?


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I'd like to contribute short reviews that appear on Watch TCM film information pages, but don't know how.

 

Also, I read quite a lot of informed, interesting reviews in TCM forums, but the large majority of reviews on Watch TCM are really poor, lacking any informative information, just users inarticulate opinions.  Wonder how the ones that are used are chosen?

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I'd like to contribute short reviews that appear on Watch TCM film information pages, but don't know how.

 

Also, I read quite a lot of informed, interesting reviews in TCM forums, but the large majority of reviews on Watch TCM are really poor, lacking any informative information, just users inarticulate opinions. Wonder how the ones that are used are chosen?

 

Word is they're all printed off on an old ink-jet printer and pinned on a big cork covered wall. A blindfold is then placed over the eyes of the person who's in charge of this decision and who is then handed a dart, and then...well, I think you can guess the rest here, right Andy?!

 

(...yeah, I know...pretty "old school" approach goin' on there, ain't it)

 

;)

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Word is they're all printed off on an old ink-jet printer and pinned on a big cork covered wall. A blindfold is then placed over the eyes of the person who's in charge of this decision and who is then handed a dart, and then...well, I think you can guess the rest here, right Andy?!

 

(...yeah, I know...pretty "old school" approach goin' on there, ain't it)

 

;)

 

I admit I haven't really even looked at that part of the website so I can't comment.  But.  This brings to mind the old saying, the more you learn the less you really know.  Just sayin'.  The really good posters are more self-aware, have all seen it, and are all standing around waiting for other good posters to post - so that they can critique it then refute it. :lol:

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I'd like to contribute short reviews that appear on Watch TCM film information pages, but don't know how.

 

Also, I read quite a lot of informed, interesting reviews in TCM forums, but the large majority of reviews on Watch TCM are really poor, lacking any informative information, just users inarticulate opinions.  Wonder how the ones that are used are chosen?

 

So they don't just have the Maltin reviews posted?

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  • 1 month later...

It looks like the user reviews are just taken from the movie entry in the TCM database.  You can go to the film's page by searching for it and then on the left side of the film entry, there's a section that says "Contribute" and then "Write your own review."  

 

Hope this helps!

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It looks like the user reviews are just taken from the movie entry in the TCM database.  You can go to the film's page by searching for it and then on the left side of the film entry, there's a section that says "Contribute" and then "Write your own review."  

 

Hope this helps!

 

Some of those user reviews are pretty bad.

A lot of them are not even reviews --- just comments that the user hates a certain movie.

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Some of those user reviews are pretty bad.

A lot of them are not even reviews --- just comments that the user hates a certain movie.

 

Yes,  user reviews of any product are often of questionable value (regardless of what Yelp or Angie will tell ya!).  

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Yes,  user reviews of any product are often of questionable value (regardless of what Yelp or Angie will tell ya!).  

James, I think Yelp and Angie were banned from the airwaves many years ago.

 

Oh, wait...that was "Amos and Andy"!

Never mind.

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Obviously, any time we review a film we have the choice of saying something positive or something negative. In the past, I have been guilty of overly negative reviews but I try to refrain from that now. I figure I should only devote my time to something that I can stand behind and really encourage others to check out. I want people to enjoy classic films more, and it's better to play up the good stuff and leave the bad stuff alone.

 

Am I making sense here?

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What elements should a short review include in contrast with a long review?

 

There certainly are terrible reviews which appear to opine rather than educate and inform the reader.

 

But I would like to know, particularly from the journalist/film writers whether there are templates or terms/conditions that you cover in a movie review?

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Some of those user reviews are pretty bad.

A lot of them are not even reviews --- just comments that the user hates a certain movie.

With some of the reviews, it's obvious that the negative comment isn't even about the movie, it's about someone in the movie or a crew member.  I hate the reviews that are like: "I hate musicals, so I did not like Top Hat." 

 

I also dislike the reviews that start out with a long, detailed plot summary which gives away all the plot points of the film.  A brief synopsis is fine, but for a basic user review, giving away the entire plot is not helpful.  Some people I think confuse movie review with book report. 

 

If I'm writing a review, I may give a brief synopsis just as an introduction, but usually I'll talk about why I wanted to watch this film.  Whether it was for a favorite actor, a favorite genre, hearing that the film was good, etc.  Then I'll talk about whether or not I liked it.  Regardless of whether I liked it or disliked it, I always try to explain what it was about the film that I liked or disliked.  My cardinal rule in negative reviews is never to tell the reader to NOT watch the film.  I hate being told to not watch something.  Instead, I'll explain the aspects of the film I didn't like and/or why I was disappointed.  Usually there's at least one thing that I did like in the film, and I'll try to make sure to include that in the review as well.  Even in films that I loved, if there is something that I didn't like, I'll mention it.  I always just try to give an honest opinion about a film, without pretentious or generic statements.  Also, I always write in coherent, complete thoughts with proper spelling.  Nothing ruins the credibility of someone's statement more than poor spelling, profanity and vague statements without any examples from the film to back them up.  Saying "I liked this film" or "I did not like this film" without saying why is really a pointless review. 

 

Unfortunately, it seems that many that post reviews in the TCMdb just post for the sake of posting.  They say that people who are disappointed with something are quick to complain, but those who are satisfied are less likely to spread their praise.  I think that's true with movie reviews as well.

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My cardinal rule in negative reviews is never to tell the reader to NOT watch the film.  I hate being told to not watch something.  

Totally agree with that statement. 

 

Each viewer should be left to make up their own mind about any given film's merits and shortcomings.

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Each viewer should be left to make up their own mind about any given film's merits and shortcomings.

 

With regards to what is listed above;

Well first one has to decide what the main purpose or reason for reading a review is.   Often the main reason to read a review is by someone who has NOT seen the film,  to answer the very basis question of 'should I see this film or NOT'  (i.e. "should I make the time to seek out this film').     When that is the case the concept of 'each viewer and a film's merits etc..' aren't relevant since those reading the review haven't seen it yet.

 

For this type of review  I try to describe the qualities of the film and with limited editorial,  without giving away the plot.    e.g. the lead actor gives a performance that is different than his typical screen persona.    This isn't saying if that is a good or bad thing only that the potential viewer could expect to see something unique from that actor.  

 

If the 'review' is more of just a discussion with people that have seen the films than I offer a lot more of my personal opinions.

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With regards to what is listed above;

Well first one has to decide what the main purpose or reason for reading a review is.   Often the main reason to read a review is by someone who has NOT seen the film,  to answer the very basis question of 'should I see this film or NOT'  (i.e. "should I make the time to seek out this film').     When that is the case the concept of 'each viewer and a film's merits etc..' aren't relevant since those reading the review haven't seen it yet.

 

For this type of review  I try to describe the qualities of the film and with limited editorial,  without giving away the plot.    e.g. the lead actor gives a performance that is different than his typical screen persona.    This isn't saying if that is a good or bad thing only that the potential viewer could expect to see something unique from that actor.  

 

If the 'review' is more of just a discussion with people that have seen the films than I offer a lot more of my personal opinions.

As I read your reply (above) and thought about it-- I realized that I seldom read reviews before I watch something. Instead I will usually read reviews after I watch a film, so that I can see if my impressions matched others-- and if not, why not. I think I do this to avoid potential spoilers and to ensure that someone else's negativity does not get in the way of my viewing experience. Therefore, when I write my reviews, I try to play up the positive aspects for those who may read my commentary before they see something. And again, as I stated previously, I'd rather not waste time trashing something when I could be more productive extolling the virtues of a story that might benefit a classic film lover.

 

But what I said about judging a film on its merits and shortcomings still stands. It is ultimately up to the individual, making those determinations for himself, just as I was able to make those determinations for myself.

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As I read your reply (above) and thought about it-- I realized that I seldom read reviews before I watch something. Instead I will usually read reviews after I watch a film, so that I can see if my impressions matched others-- and if not, why not. I think I do this to avoid potential spoilers and to ensure that someone else's negativity does not get in the way of my viewing experience. Therefore, when I write my reviews, I try to play up the positive aspects for those who may read my commentary before they see something. And again, as I stated previously, I'd rather not waste time trashing something when I could be more productive extolling the virtues of a story that might benefit a classic film lover.

 

But what I said about judging a film on its merits and shortcomings still stands. It is ultimately up to the individual, making those determinations for himself, just as I was able to make those determinations for myself.

 

Interesting.   I rarely read reviews of movies I have already seen,  especially ones I know well.    But generally I rarely read reviews before viewing a film for the solid reasons you provided.    Instead of reading reviews I would rather have discussions with people like those at this forum about a film we have all seen.

 

I wonder what others do most often as it relates to reading reviews;  before or after viewing a film?    Also for those that read reviews before viewing a film, how much do reviews,  especially negatives one,  impact their viewing choices?  

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Interesting.   I rarely read reviews of movies I have already seen,  especially ones I know well.    But generally I rarely read reviews before viewing a film for the solid reasons you provided.    Instead of reading reviews I would rather have discussions with people like those at this forum about a film we have all seen.

 

I wonder what others do most often as it relates to reading reviews;  before or after viewing a film?    Also for those that read reviews before viewing a film, how much do reviews,  especially negatives one,  impact their viewing choices?  

My guess is that negative reviews keep some people from watching a film they might have seen and possibly enjoyed. Or that if they did see the movie in question and wound up agreeing with the negative viewpoints expressed by the critic, that they felt they should have listened and not wasted time or money on it.

 

However, if you let someone else determine what you watch, then you are losing the power to make your own decisions. Right?

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jamesjazzguitar & TopBilled--I've always read reviews before I go and spend money--the films that get mixed reviews or less I generally see/saw when they got on videotape--the only films I avoided were the Friday the 13th series & imitations--that was because of personal preference.

 

About classic film like TCM offers--I read reviews ahead of time, but I enjoy the weird, crazed films that never should have been greenlighted--major exception being "At Long Last Love" (1975)--if Leonard Maltin gives it a one and 1/2 star rating or lower, I generally try to watch it, unless I've seen it already.  Critics opinions are useful as guideposts--I decide what I do & don't like.  If something is rated as dreadful on the TCM boards, I'm likely to see it--just to make up my own mind.

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My guess is that negative reviews keep some people from watching a film they might have seen and possibly enjoyed. Or that if they did see the movie in question and wound up agreeing with the negative viewpoints expressed by the critic, that they felt they should have listened and not wasted time or money on it.

 

However, if you let someone else determine what you watch, then you are losing the power to make your own decisions. Right?

 

To me it isn't about letting someone else determine what you watch;  it is about using one's time usefully.   There isn't enough time to view every movie.  Therefore one has to decide what movies that are 'must see',  what films are 'would like to see' and which films fall into the  'I don't need to see this'.    

 

Reviews by a critic one respects (e.g.  after viewing a film one's review of it is similar to that of the critic),  as well as comments \ discussions at forums like this,  can be worthwhile as it relates to what I said in the first paragraph. 

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jamesjazzguitar & TopBilled--I've always read reviews before I go and spend money--the films that get mixed reviews or less I generally see/saw when they got on videotape--the only films I avoided were the Friday the 13th series & imitations--that was because of personal preference.

 

About classic film like TCM offers--I read reviews ahead of time, but I enjoy the weird, crazed films that never should have been greenlighted--major exception being "At Long Last Love" (1975)--if Leonard Maltin gives it a one and 1/2 star rating or lower, I generally try to watch it, unless I've seen it already.  Critics opinions are useful as guideposts--I decide what I do & don't like.  If something is rated as dreadful on the TCM boards, I'm likely to see it--just to make up my own mind.

Recently I had a conversation with someone about how great THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is (it's on my top ten list of all-time classic films). I can't even guess what it would be like if I was new to classic film viewing and someone told me upfront what this picture is all about. Some things just cannot be spoiled. They have to be suggested; and they definitely cannot be ruined in advance.

 

Even if some respected critic gives a film a low rating, you may find it wise to ignore such comments. Especially if you know you love a certain director, performer, style, or subject matter depicted in a film-- regardless of what other people are saying about it.

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There isn't enough time to view every movie.  

I try not to think about that. If I do, then I'm dead in the proverbial water. There has to be time. I have to make enough time to see every movie I want to see. The alternative is simply not acceptable. LOL

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I try not to think about that. If I do, then I'm dead in the proverbial water. There has to be time. I have to make enough time to see every movie I want to see. The alternative is simply not acceptable. LOL

 

While I understand what you're saying there is only so much time in a day and therefore only so many movies one can see.

 

You say 'I have to make enough time to see every movie I want to see':    The last part of this sentence 'every movie I WANT TO SEE' is the key point I have been making.   With thousands of movies one has NOT seen how does one determine the movies one wants to see?     i.e.  how does one reduce the list of 'movies I want to see' to a practical number?

 

I have many methods especially with studio-era movies that tend to go in this order;

 

1) The actors;   I 'want to see' every movie that featured my favorite stars,  even the so called 'bad' ones (i.e. ones where I may have read a negative review or seen negative comments at this forum).    In this case your comment about making your own choice is spot on;  e.g. regardless of what I have read or heard about Beyond the Forest,  I still wish to see this Bette Davis film, because she is my favorite actress.

 

2)  Genres based on books I have;   I have a film noir book (Film Noir - Silver \ Ward),  where I check off each film I have seen.   I also have a 30s to early 40s comedy book where I do the same thing.     In most cases I 'want to see' all the films mentioned in these books but there are some exceptions.   These exceptions typically relate to the actors or the director;  i.e. a film may end up in the very low priority category.    

 

3)  The directors;   Same as the actors but sometimes combined with genre to determine priority.

 

4)  Classic \ award winning or nominated films;    Genre and the actors \ director of the film may push it off the 'must see' list.

 

5)  Recommendations \ reviews,  especially from those at this forum.     Here I try to only use positive ones.   i.e. a film that doesn't meet any of the 4 criteria above but someone,  like you for example,  recommends it,  hey, why not make the time to see it.   

 

Of course I watch films that don't meet any of the above just because there is nothing else on and I have nothing else to do (typically late at night).    I have found gems doing this but most of the time I end up saying to myself;  I should have just played my guitar!

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While I understand what you're saying there is only so much time in a day and therefore only so many movies one can see.

 

You say 'I have to make enough time to see every movie I want to see':    The last part of this sentence 'every movie I WANT TO SEE' is the key point I have been making.   With thousands of movies one has NOT seen how does one determine the movies one wants to see?     i.e.  how does one reduce the list of 'movies I want to see' to a practical number?

 

I have many methods especially with studio-era movies that tend to go in this order;

 

1) The actors;   I 'want to see' every movie that featured my favorite stars,  even the so called 'bad' ones (i.e. ones where I may have read a negative review or seen negative comments at this forum).    In this case your comment about making your own choice is spot on;  e.g. regardless of what I have read or heard about Beyond the Forest,  I still wish to see this Bette Davis film, because she is my favorite actress.

 

2)  Genres based on books I have;   I have a film noir book (Film Noir - Silver \ Ward),  where I check off each film I have seen.   I also have a 30s to early 40s comedy book where I do the same thing.     In most cases I 'want to see' all the films mentioned in these books but there are some exceptions.   These exceptions typically relate to the actors or the director;  i.e. a film may end up in the very low priority category.    

 

3)  The directors;   Same as the actors but sometimes combined with genre to determine priority.

 

4)  Classic \ award winning or nominated films;    Genre and the actors \ director of the film may push it off the 'must see' list.

 

5)  Recommendations \ reviews,  especially from those at this forum.     Here I try to only use positive ones.   i.e. a film that doesn't meet any of the 4 criteria above but someone,  like you for example,  recommends it,  hey, why not make the time to see it.   

 

Of course I watch films that don't meet any of the above just because there is nothing else on and I have nothing else to do (typically late at night).    I have found gems doing this but most of the time I end up saying to myself;  I should have just played my guitar!

Your method is a good one. For me, I think almost everything from 1930 to 1959 is worth the time. I like learning more about the golden age of cinema from these years.

 

But I do also look at film from other decades, mostly if it is a director or a writer I trust. Yesterday I watched James Ivory's last effort from 2007 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus not long ago I took some time to watch Sam Peckinpah's THE GETAWAY which was very rewarding. And today I checked out CONFESSIONS OF TOM HARRIS which Don Murray wrote, produced and starred in...and I loved it!

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jamesjazzguitar--I too check off films I have watched.  The bookI have found priceless, is Danny Peary's "Guide for the Film Fanatic", paperbound, 1987.  It's out of print but can be bought for a reasonable price on Amazon.  He's the smartest film critic with the best batting average of film critics, IMHO.  He writes capsule reviews of 1600 films & lists another 4200 he considers "ought-to-see-films" in the back (with check boxes for each film listed in back, LOL).  The man must have spent an unbelievable amount of time watching movies.

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