Editor's Note: After completing his final centerpiece for the Unfamiliar Genre Project, Br. Jesus Romo also composed this final reflection in which he shares his overall experience with this major component of the journalism class at Mount Angel Seminary.
A Final Reflection on the Unfamiliar Genre Project
I often had the experience of feeling out of context when members of my religious community were discussing movies because I did not know much about the components of a movie. There are two aspects that I wanted to learn from this project. First, I wanted to learn how to identify the key elements of a movie. Secondly, I wanted to learn how to be able to think critically about movies and give my own opinion. I will say that throughout this journey, I learned more than simply these two elements.
The first step I took in the project was to look for samples of movie reviews. I remember going to the library and asking for the Statesman Journal, a local newspaper. Since they did not have it, my first attempt at researching the topic was not very positive. The next time that I had the journalism class, I went back to the library with Dr. Kleiman, my journalism professor, hoping to find the newspaper, and it was not there. We looked at other journals, and we did not find any movie reviews in them.
Another option for my research was the internet, so I signed up for the New York Times website and I found many movie reviews there. However, since I wanted to see a greater variety of reviews, I looked for more at the Catholic News Service web page and at rogerebert.com, and there I found what I wanted. Although, the experience did not seem positive at the beginning, I learned later on that everything I did was part of the journey, and every step was important.
I chose to look at movie reviews of films that I had already watched in order to have a better understanding of the review and how it related to the movie. Once I chose the samples that were of interest, I began to read them. I had not read any movie reviews before, so it was a new experience for me. Some of them had vocabulary that was unfamiliar to me, so it took me longer to read and understand them, but I knew, from my experience at the beginning of the project, that it did not matter how much time I was going to spend because everything was part my journey.
From reading the samples, I learned that there are different rhetorical devices that I could use to write my own movie review, such as questions that help to engage the audience and comparing the movie with another movie of the same genre. I also learned that I need to be patient and see the value of every step that I take on any future project because everything is part of the learning process.
After my research and reading different samples of movie reviews, the next step was to choose a movie that I wanted to review. I had a couple in mind. One was the classic story Gone with the Wind, written by Margaret Mitchel, and the other was Peaceful Warrior, a film based on a true story, written by Dan Millman and Kevin Bernhardt. After thinking for a while about which one to choose, I decided to do my review on Peaceful Warrior because it is a story that I identify with. I identify with the story because the transformation that Dan Millman, the main character, went through is similar to the process that I am going through in my formation as a Missionary of the Holy Spirit and as a future priest.
The next step in my project was to put into words what I had learned from my research, from reading movie reviews samples, and from watching the movie. I did not know where to start, but as soon I began to write, I remembered what I learned in journalism class. The questions who, what, why, how, when, and where should be answered in a narration. These questions served as a guide for my writing, but I found some other difficulties.
One of the difficulties that I had was thinking critically about the movie. I believe that because of my personality I find it difficult to judge other people’s work and give my own opinion about them, especially when I have to refer to a negative aspect of their work. In the first revision of my paper, Dr. Kleiman encouraged me to include more of my own opinion in some parts of my review. Although it was difficult, I did it, and it helped me to express what I thought about the movie.
Another skill that I was able to practice in the process of writing my review was being open to receive feedback and corrections. Fr. Alex Rubio, MSpS, a member of my religious community, helped me by making grammatical corrections and he also helped me to choose words that better express the ideas that I wanted to communicate.
Now that I have finished my project, I feel pleased with the work that I did and with everything I have learned throughout this process. Now I am able to more clearly identify the key elements of a movie; therefore, I can be more critical when I watch a movie and be part of movie conversations.