The Ten Commandments for Cinephiles.

charlton-heston-10-Commandments-Moses-HornsEvery person who writes for a movie site can agree on one thing.   We all have a undying love for films.  We may not all agree on every one, but we all share a common love and joy of watching them.  It’s doesn’t matter if you prefer the art-house over the multiplex.  Action over drama.  As long as you are honest about what you write.  You are considered to be a cinephiles in my book.  No I don’t have an actual book.  It’s just a figure of speech, but I do have ten guidelines that I follow.

1.  Thou must watch all genres.

If you will never watch a foreign film(with subtitles, not dubbed), a western, or flat out refuse to watch any one before 1969.  It’s hard for me to consider you as a serious cinephile.  You are a movie fan, but not a movie buff.

2.  Thou must never speak badly of a movie until they actually see it.

It is perfectly acceptable to avoid a movie based on many factors.  The trailer did not appeal to you.  The story doesn’t interest you, or the cast just looked bad.  Those are all valid reasons to skip a movie.  But if you claim that it is a bad movie without ever seeing it.  It’s hard for me to respect you as a critic.  I have no desire in seeing any of the “Twilight” franchise, but I’ll never say they are bad because I have never seen them.

3.   Thou must never insult another critic.

It’s important that we continue to  express our opinions about movies.  It’s also important to express our thoughts on the comment sections of someone’s review.  Differences about a particular movie is vital and helps engage in more talks about movies which is always cool.  I hate it when I see comments that insult the writer just because he or she happened to disagree with what that person wrote.  If you disagree with a review.  State why you did then offer your thoughts about the film.  Hurling insults and calling someone names is not professional.

PicardInsult-4712358514.  Thou must learn to take criticism Thyneselves. 

Just as it is important for others to show respect to you.  You must also show respect to others on your page.  They took time out of their day to read your review and post their thoughts about it.  It’s unwise to ignore a comment(Especially if it is one that is negative).  They are looking for feedback and will be revisiting your site more and more to continue their debate.   This will help lead to more page views which is essentially what we all want.

5. Thou must always keep discovering. 

One of the main burdens of being a cinephile is that there are tons upon tons of movies released every year.  Combine that with movies from previous years and I’ll bet there are a few that you have not seen.  To this day I have never seen “The Sound of Music” or “Unforgiven“.  I’m also behind on seeing all the nominees for Best Picture this year(I’ve only seen five).  Don’t let it discourage you if you happen to miss out on a few features.  It’s the discovery of watching more movies that will make you a better cinephile.

6.  Thou shalt never give up thy integrity.

No one, and I mean no one should write up a positive review of a movie they didn’t like, just in hopes that they will get a plug from a director or actor.  I have been quite fortunate to have received a few screeners from a few film makers.  Most of the ones sent have been great, but there were a few that were less then perfect.  If there was a movie that I did not fully care for.  I would mention very honestly what my problem was with it.  I always try and find at least one good thing in a movie, but if I cant.  I gotta stay true and write an honest review about it.  But I never want to write one where I fully put down the people involved with it.  They put a lot of time and effort into that feature and I’m grateful they would want to share it with me.

movies7. Thou must keep up with the future but not forget the past. 

The movies of today have various ways in which we can enjoy them.  As much of a problem
that some may have with 3D.  It is a format that is not going away and there may be a time when all movies are done in this format.  When TV first came out,Studios had to make their movies bigger.  This explains why movies were shown in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2:35 over the standard 1:33 one.  As times progressed, movies went from being on reels to being shown digitally.  I’m excited for new formats to be discovered, but I never want to forget the past ones that have helped along the way.   It’s important to hold on to those old movie reels from the past as a form of security.  If those go, then I feel like a piece of human history will go away with it.

8.   Thou Must always keep networking. 

It’s important to not just respond to people who have commented on your posts, but to visit their site as well.  It’s always great to check out some of the sites that they follow and leave a comment on there too.  Share someone’s review on Twitter or Facebook and they
will keep in contact with you more. Another added bonus for this strategy is that they may introduce you to a movie you may have missed.  Or at the very least give you a new perspective on ones that you have.  I am extremely lucky to know a lot of great movie critics.  But I’m always discovering more great sites and writers too.

9.   Thou must always keep writing. 

The only way your site will continue to get read by others is if you are posting more things on it.  I do understand that this is quite a task, and I have not been following this rule myself. If you can do at least one every week that would be extremely beneficial to you.  I try and write down a few notes after every movie I’ve seen and then go back to try and adapt them into a full review.  If I can I will write up a long one I will, but if I don’t   I will just use my shortened version for my movie insomniac posts on The Vern’s Videovangaurd.

10.  Thou must always remember to haveth fun.

It’s important to watch a movie without the need to critique it.  You should have a set list of favorite movies that you watch without the need to write full reviews  about it. Relax and have a good time watching the stories and acting that you love.   You can even watch something new and not write about it either.  Just have fun with it.


I hope that you find this list helpful, and if you have any other suggestions on how to be a better cinephile.  Please leave them in the comments below

About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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40 Responses to The Ten Commandments for Cinephiles.

  1. vinnieh says:

    Excellent list for movie reviewers everywhere.

  2. jjames36 says:

    Great list, Vern. I agree with each and every point. 🙂

  3. Dan Heaton says:

    Vern, we have to rip on movies we’ve never seen and have to insult others! How else would we feel superior? All kidding aside, this is a fun list. The last commandment is a good one; we all sometimes take this a bit too seriously.

  4. elina says:

    Awesome list, Vern! I promise to do my best to uphold the sacredness of film bloggers. 😛

  5. caragale says:

    Hear, hear! All excellent commandments, sir. And speaking of excellence, I believe this blog’s pretty excellent, which is why I have nominated it for a Liebster Award. 🙂

  6. Paul S says:

    Amen to your #10!

  7. 11. Thou shalt get to the theater on time and politely stfu.

  8. ninvoid99 says:

    I absolutely agree w/ these commandments!!!

  9. 70srichard says:

    Amen. I once took a tone that came across as condescending in a post on a site that I love, and I was called out for it. I was mortified and would never want to quash someone’s right to an opinion. So I have sinned but I will always seek atonement. Now I offer ten “make em an offer he can’t refuses” and one “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”.

  10. Myerla says:

    I think integrity is important, never lied on a film review and never will. What pisses me off a lot is the fake quotes on movies posted..

    I have to admit I have read some film reviews and think ‘this is utter rubbish’ then I noticed I was reading my own, Haha. Anyway, in all serious, I have sometimes thought the reviewer is a genuine idiot and talking utter crap, but I’ve never actually said it like that, I either don’t comment or be more polite.

    I’d love to get some constructive criticism, my grammar isn’t exactly perfect and I would like to know where I go wrong. Also, I often find a lot of typos when I reread reviews a few months later. Which is annoyinh

    Another commandment should be thou must finish entire movie before thou passes judgement.

    • The Vern says:

      Not only do you see fake quotes but you also see fake twitter names giving a movie praise too. I agree with your responses about reviews you think are total rubbish. If you cant say anything nice dont say anything at all. Thanks for visiting.

  11. Terrific post, Vern. Many of your points I’ve taken to heart as a movie watcher/writer, while a few (which I won’t indicate) are areas that I hope to improve.

    I especially love commandment number 3. Film is such a subjective medium that it’s inevitable that no two people will look at something the same way. I’ve always been perplexed by comments that take someone (including me) to task for having a different interpretation or opinion.

    I think one of the big take-aways from this list is to continue growing and challenging ourselves as cinephiles. Bravo!

    • The Vern says:

      Thank you Barry. I too hate it when someone calls another an idiot just for having a different opinion. As long as you give solid reasons of why you don’t like something. I’ll never think of you as being a bad critic. I’ll joke around with ya, but I wont attack anyone.

  12. Wow Vern, this might be the best article/post I’ve read in a while – it is very creative! I think every movie critic/movie goer should follow these rules.


    PS – I also didn’t see The Sound of Music.

  13. Top list mate, really good points and agree on every one. Great stuff Vern!

  14. Great post Vern! Keeping a blog going can be tough but it’s also super rewarding. Love your number 8 – discovering new blogs is a great source of inspiration and the movie blogging community is a very supportive place to be 🙂

  15. I loveth this posteth, to thine ownself be true fck yeah! I liketh number 1, 2 and 7… very true… true dat-th.

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  18. spacecortez says:

    Reblogged this on spacecortezwrites and commented:
    Some wise words for anyone considering writing about film!

  19. I enjoyed reading this list and enjoyed its light-hearted slant on the subject. I’m sure most film writers would concur with the list. However while I agree film writing should be fun, but there is a serious side of the game too. I believe that film writers have an overriding responsibility not to the film, the film industry, or even themselves or their readers, but to the process and advancement of film literacy. People read reviews for many different reasons; the pre-film readers want information; the post-film readers want engagement; and the non-film readers want a vicarious viewing experience. In all cases, they are entering a conversation that is conducted in a variety of film-review styles, some are purely descriptive, some highly analytical, and some are hybrids. Most people react to films subjectively and their emotions get in the way of understanding the coded genre structures and narrative conventions. So one of our primary roles is to act as a kind of cultural interpreter, pointing to the things that might not have been obvious to the viewer, giving the film a broader context, and articulating its coded messages. Films are easy to understand but hard to explain; thats why film reviewers exist. It is only in the act of explaining (both to ourselves and others) that the film’s various meanings become apparent (sorry for being long winded).

    • The Vern says:

      Thank you very much for reading and for your comments. Yes Film reviewing can advance ne film literacy and maybe get those to look at films in a different way. Not everyone is going to view a movie the exact same way. In no way do I consider myself a professional movie critic. I’m just jotting down what I like or dislike about a movie. I love it when people do disagree with me( Hell I did Champion for Howard The Duck to win Movie of The Month on another site) but I just want the conversations that come from that to still be respectful. I appreciate your feedback and look forward t checking out your site.

  20. Your published list itself is a contrbution to film lieracy so you do not need to be a pro film critic to be a cultural leader. Keep it up.

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