If you’re a film buff or devour books from a list of favorite authors, consider keeping a record for reference and personal reviews.
Benefits: Film and Book Reviews
Memory is a fragile tool at best. If you consume a steady stream of films and books you know that remembering them in detail is relegated to those with photographic memories. Tired of getting ten minutes into a movie before realizing you’ve seen it before or buying a book you’ve read. Keep an annual list!
Format: The Armchair Critic
Keeping a film list for yourself is a gratifying way of tracking what you’ve watched, but the implicit nature of movie watching is to share the experience with others. One of the best ways to justify an aggressive movie habit is to write reviews to periodically share with others in monthly or biannual emails, even create a film critic column in your local newspaper. Pretty soon you’ll hear yourself being quoted in your neighborhood café!
Keep a small or pocket sized journal next to the chair or couch you sit on to watch movies. Something you can take to the theater as well to jot down essentials. Take note of the pertinent information: Director, producer, members of the cast, cinematographer and any other aspects you want to include such as costume design or casting director. Note the date of the film, the film company and the country of origin.
Include the following information to complete the review:
That’s it. Roll ‘um!
- A synopsis of the storyline without giving away the plot of the film.
- Present a well reasoned analysis of the film based on historical reference, comparison to other films by the same director or renditions of the same story or remake, metaphorical or allegorical meaning.
- Commentary on the direction, production quality and historical or aesthetic detail.
- Comment on the soundtrack if relevant.
- Develop a personal rating system to acknowledge where it fits in your quality lexicon.
Format: The Book Club
Are you an active member of a book club? Do you love to wow your fellow members with meaty analysis and little known facts about the author? What to quote what other reviewers and authors have said? Think about keeping, not just a book list, but a journal full of reviews of the books you’ve read. Chances are, if you’re a passionate reader you have a secret or not so secret yearning to write as well.
Find a lined journal of quality in any size you feel is appropriate. Decide whether your habit will be to enter information as you’re reading or write a review or enter notes on completion of the book. Consider some sort of indexing strategy so that you can reference your reviews, especially if you intend to use the information in a book club setting. Be sure to include the following information:
- Author and author bio.
- Publisher, copyright date and number of pages. Comment on the publishing house and it’s choice of authors and books if significant.
- You may wish to note the edition (first, second, etc) if you own the copy of the book.
- Quotes from noted reviewers on the backside or front pages of the book.
- Synopsis of story if a novel or content if non-fiction.
- Description of central characters whether fictional, non-fictional or biographical.
- Critique of the author’s writing style or use of language.
- Critique of the language translation if appropriate.
- Critique of the success and failures of the book.
- Cover art and book manufacture if relevant.