Publisher: Sutro Press
There aren't many books pertaining to movie reviewing, and in fact, according to Christopher Null, the author of Five Stars: How To Become A Film Critic, The World's Greatest Job, this is the first manual for aspiring film critics ever to be published.
Null is the founder of the web site, filmcritic.com that today is one of the largest and most successful movie websites on the Internet.
As the author points out, the primary focus of Five Stars: How To Become A Film Critic, The World's Greatest Job, is teaching newcomers how to break into Internet criticism and grow a career from there.
I must admit that I had reservations if it was possible to condense film reviewing techniques with all of its complexities into a 255 page informative manual. But Null's manual goes a long way toward assuaging my doubts.
Written in a lively and organized manner, the book divides itself into fifteen easy to read chapters providing an overview of the film industry, and dealing with such topics as the market for film criticism, film history and understanding film making, reviewing concepts and techniques, grading, starting your career, building a movie review site, securing complimentary movie passes, film critic etiquette, handling your own criticism (this is quite amusing), and interviewing.
There is even an appendix suggesting 300 must-see films for aspiring critics.
While the focus may be for the aspiring film reviewer, the manual nevertheless serves as an excellent primer for even those among us who have no inclinations of becoming reviewers.
This is particularly in evidence when we consider the book's remarkable breadth and its success in articulating the basic ingredients necessary to appreciate movies.
As an example, an entire section of the book devotes itself to different genre of film and what to look for when watching movies.
We are provided with tips as to how to evaluate slapstick comedy, satire, sequels and remakes, documentaries, foreign films, classics, children's movies, oddball movies.
In addition, Null provides us with a framework of questions to ask ourselves when viewing movies: did the movie achieve its goal, is the story interesting, how are the performances, how's the direction, what about the support crew, was here a worthwhile point, is it too long, and how well does it all come together.
Although, as Null points out, these should not be looked at as if it's a checklist, or a grading test, they are nonetheless important elements to take into consideration when evaluating any film.
Anyone who wants to know about film reviewing and what to look for when watching any genre of film would do well to read this book. Who knows, you may even be able to show off some of the information you gleaned from the book at cocktail parties, when participating in conversations concerning the latest movies.