In this course students will become more effective film critics by becoming more knowledgeable and literate as film viewers. Film criticism encompasses several different forms of journalistic writing, including the movie review, essay, blog entry, and theoretical article and book. Students will read and respond to the work of pioneering film critics, particularly Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert, as well as view challenging films that push the limits of mainstream and art cinemas and illustrate the difficulties inherent in judging any movie based on personal taste alone. This course is writing intensive: students will write six polished film reviews and one longer analytical paper over the course of the semester. There will also be reading journals and frequent peer review workshops in class, as students will respond to each other's reviews in writing and in discussion. Our consistent focus will be on film criticism as part of a larger conversation about art and media, rather than an isolated act of self-expression.