Book or Film Review

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WRITING A BOOK / FILM REVIEW

Reviews are brief accounts of books, films, plays, CDs, etc. Their purpose is to inform readers and viewers, while also giving opinions and recommendations about whether or not they should buy a CD, read a book, watch a film, etc.

A good film / book review should include:

( An introduction which gives facts and background information concerning the book, film, etc, its credits. Some good examples of them are the following: Credits:
• Title and year it was shot / written.
• Nationality
• Genre
• Awards
• Director / Writer
• Music or soundtrack (if it’s a film)
• Main actors / characters… (just mention them, if anything!)

( A main body, usually made up of two paragraphs, one describing the main features of the subject (i. e. the plot) and another including general comments and opinion (e. g. the acting, musical, style, etc). Let’s see: Plot: only a brief summary of the book / film. (SHORT PARAGRAPH!!!) • Place and time where it is set.

- Where / when does the action take place?
- Is the story chronological or flash back?
• Main events.
• Background: society, country, kind of people, social class, historical time…

Strengths of the book / film and any criticism:
• Characters (physical / psychological description, age, social / personal background…). • Acting.
• Soundtrack.
• Musical style.

( A conclusion, which includes a recommendation of the book, CD, play, etc, supported by reasons.
Conclusion:
• What message is being told (if it is any)?
• What was the director’s / author’s purpose or intention or the theme of the film / book? • Compare with other realities you know.
• What’s your opinion?
• Who do you recommend this film / book to and why?

Reviews are normally found in newspapers, magazines, or as parts of a letter. The style used depends on the publication and the intended reader; therefore, it can be either formal or semi-formal. Present tenses are normally used, as well as a variety of adjectives to make the review more interesting to the reader.

Here you are some examples of different reviews in which you will have to do some kind of exercise (the key to those exercises is on pages 6-8 of this document).

1) Read the review of the film Kolya and complete the gaps with the appropriate phrase from the box below.

(a) _________________ is Kolya. What’s unusual about it is that it’s a film from the Czech Republic, and it’s nice to have a change from American movies! (b) _________________ because it won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, so I thought it must be (c) _________________. (d) _________________ by a man called Jan Svĕrák, and (e) _________________ a Czech actor, Zdenĕk Svĕrák, as well as a young Russian child actor, Andrej Chalimon.

The film (f) _________________ Prague, the capital city, and the action begins in the late 1980s, just before The Velvet Revolution, when communism was replaced by democracy. (g) _________________ of Louka, a musician with the state symphony orchestra, who suddenly loses his job, and is forced to play music at funerals in order to make a living. Eventually, he meets and marries a Russian woman, but, unfortunately, she is only interested in getting citizenship, and, immediately after the wedding, she flees to Germany, leaving Louka to cope with her five-year-old son, (h) _________________ by Andrej Chalimon. The film follows the relationship between the man and the boy, and the way they eventually learn to adapt to each other’s way of life.

Although (i) _________________, and a little slow-moving at times, there were a number of things I really liked about it. (j) _________________ the acting, which I thought was excellent (particularly Svĕrák and the boy), and I also liked the touches of humour, which were very subtle and gentle. (k) _________________ how people live...
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