The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.—Oscar Wilde, letter to the editor of the Scots Observer, 1890.

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Sample Movie Reviews

Essanay Studios, Uptown, Chicago.

The former Essanay Studios in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Essanay produced over 450 silent films in Chicago starring the likes of Gloria Swanson, Ben Turpin, Charlie Chaplin, and Broncho Billy Anderson.

While editorial and pre-publication services form the bulk of our business, we do take on select writing projects. Our senior staff member, Joanne, is a freelance editor, author, and film reviewer who has written for publishing companies, magazines, and newspapers across the country and around the world. While she will review blockbuster films, the majority of her DVD reviews are geared toward school, academic, and public library markets, as well as specialty stores and, of course, independent film fans. She has had more than 150 reviews published in the last few years. Her favorite genres are history, science, folklore, mythology, exercise videos (yoga, pilates, etc.), children’s films, and science fiction.

Included below are samples of published reviews.

Zero Tolerance in Schools / 3 Stars

Video Review Librarian, September/October 2002 (Volume 17, Issue 5)

(2000) 21 min. $149.95. Carousel Film and Video. PPR. Color cover. ISBN: 1-56058-177-8.

We all remember April 20, 1999, the day two heavily armed high school students killed 13 people at Colorado’s Columbine High School before taking their own lives. In the weeks that followed, many tough questions were raised: Why were these two young men so angry? How did they acquire the weapons and ammunition? What could have been done to prevent this? And, ultimately, what can we do to make America’s schools safer? In his address to the nation regarding the tragedy at Columbine, President Clinton said, “We must teach our children to settle their differences through words and not weapons…[and] hammer home to all children in America that violence is wrong.” Questioning just how far these lessons should go, Zero Tolerance in Schools explores the ramifications of the zero tolerance policies (regarding potentially violent behavior) that have been adopted in schools across the country in the wake of the Columbine tragedy. In particular, the video focuses on a New Jersey case in which two eight-year-olds playing cowboys and Indians made toy guns from folded paper, and proceeded to shoot at each other. The pair were not only suspended from school, they were also taken down to the local police station to be charged with making terrorist threats against a fellow student. Parents, educators, students and police officers are all interviewed in this short but thought-provoking ABC News production, which is a solid complement to more guidance-related programs such as Real Life Teens: Weapons and Violence (VL-3/02) and Real People: Preventing Student Violence (VL-11/01). Recommended. Aud: J, H, P. (J. Asala)

Bhutan…Land of the Thunder Dragon / 3 Stars

Video Review Librarian, September/October 2002 (Volume 17, Issue 5)

(2001) 60 min. VHS or DVD: $29.95. Bennett-Watt Media. PPR. Color cover. ISBN: 0-9719280-9-6 (vhs), ISBN: 1-932068-04-X (dvd).

One of my favorite books growing up was James Hilton’s Lost Horizon, in which survivors from a plane crash on the Tibetan plateau find themselves in Shangri-la, a mythical city where no one ever ages. In 1996, while visiting the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal, I met some fellow travelers who talked about the real Shangri-la, a living museum called Bhutan, where the people still followed the ways of their ancestors by growing their own food, spinning and dyeing their own thread, and making their own clothes. In Bhutan…Land of the Thunder Dragon, filmmakers Jim and Kelly Watt—who were allowed unprecedented access to this remote and isolated country (in fact, Bhutan’s king has only recently opened the borders to tourism)—provide viewers with a colorful and insightful look at this little-known society where the people still wear (admittedly by order of law) their traditional garments and live by the same Buddhist precepts as their forefathers. Nicely shot, and completely devoid of the Western prejudices found in similar productions, this lovely travel video shows Bhutan for what it is: a jewel of the Himalayan range. Sure to be a popular addition, this off the beaten track travelogue is definitely recommended. Aud: H, P. (J. Asala)

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