Calling All Critics

Write for The New York Times

The New York Times is holding a contest for student writers. This is your chance to write for the big times! So, if you’ve ever wanted someone other than your teachers to read your writing, now is your chance!

New York Times“Between now and Nov. 24, 2015, [The New York Times] invites you to play critic and write an original review…” You can find all of the information here on the Times website. They’ve even posted a link to the judging rubric. I know how much you love rubrics! This is a great opportunity for any of you that are looking for something to beef up those resumés, especially if you’re thinking of studying the Humanities!

Will I help you?

Of course, I will! Will I give you extra credit? If you write a review that I feel you have put a good deal of effort into, of course I will!

What is your first step?

Post your review here in the comments. I know, I know…It’s a competition! Each if you will be writing something so very, very different from your classmates that you can only help each other!

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12 thoughts on “Calling All Critics

  1. Mrs Rains, this is my rough draft. I was wondering if you could tell me if I am on the right track. It is a little over the word count, but before I try to fix it I need to know if it is alright.

    The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is the greatest book ever written by an American author. It occupies a special niche in American culture, and is an inherent part of the American literary tradition. Set in the roaring, reckless, and restless 1920’s, the story follows t narrator Nick Caraway after he moves to the bustling metropolis of New York City and meets title character Jay Gatsby. Born penniless, Gatsby comes into immeasurable wealth. While serving in the army, Gatsby meets Daisy, daughter of one of the wealthiest “old money” families in Louisville, Kentucky. However, Gatsby’s status delays their marriage, and Daisy, tired of waiting, marries rich, snobby, aristocratic college sports superstar Tom Buchanan, breaking Gatsby’s heart and plunging him into a state of insomnia and trapping him in time. However, his relentless optimism prevents him from giving up, and he spends the rest of his life trying to find Daisy and convince her to leave Tom and return to him. The Great Gatsby holds a unique position in American culture due to its portrayal of the ultimate American rags to riches story, the brilliant and seemingly effortless manner by which it captures basic human emotion, and the way it falls into the boom-or-bust euphoria which captured American hearts in the 1920’s, creating for the reader a longing for the jazzy mentality of this golden era in America. Gatsby himself is an iconic image of America, and mirrors the themes of the novel. His rise from penniless child to a prominent figurehead of New York society ensnares the imagination and captures the American spirit. Also, the novel revolves about society, spinning breathlessly from one hectic party to another, sprinkled with moments of true depth and contemplation upon the meaning of life, none more recognizable than the immortal moment when Gatsby incredulously tells Nick, ”Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can” (116). This mindless optimism entrances the reader, and one finds it impossible not to feel sorry for Gatsby, who follows his dreams blindly, although they can never be. The novel is deeply rooted in the American idea of class; Gatsby can enter wealthy society against the odds, but the “old money” families will never accept him, even though, as Nick Caraway states, “…You’re worth the whole [entire] bunch put together” (162). The Great Gatsby also paints the stark contrast between the mindlessness and irresponsibility of the wealthy and the strife of ordinary people. After a car accident that kills a woman, Daisy and Tom leave town, prompting Nick to poignantly observe, “They were careless people… they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness … and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (188). The Great Gatsby is, and will remain, a classic American novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is an excellent essay. I’m not sure that the NYT may have an eye out for a review of something more contemporary. Also, this does have a feel more of an analytical essay than a critical review. Go to my other site, and read my critical review of the film Intouchables.

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  2. Mrs Rains, this is my second try, I hope it better fits the criteria.

    Released on October 2, 2015, to much fanfare and hype, “The Martian” is the latest in a growing line of visually stunning science fiction movies. The movie is based on The Martian, an acclaimed novel by Andy Weir. “The Martian” follows the trials of NASA astronaut Mark Watney, portrayed by Matt Damon, after he is left on behind on Mars, presumed dead after being hit by debris during a severe Martian storm. However, Watney survived, but with only enough food and water to last for one month, and isolated from any aid from Earth for at least four years.
    From the moment he regains consciousness with critically low oxygen levels and a severe wound, Watney is confronted by nonstop challenges, both physical and psychological. After he treats his injury, Watney sits in thought, temporarily despondent at the realization that he is going to die. However, his buoyant personality soon surfaces, and he gets to work on creating a habitat for life on Mars and establishing contact with NASA.
    “The Martian”, while visually breathtaking, is somewhat lacking in plot development. The movie jumps from one drama-saturated scene to another, never fully developing the plot enough for the audience to fear for Watney’s life. The few moment of true tension and suspense are alleviated by Watney’s unfailingly humorous take on dire situations, and his readiness to get back up immediately after each failure. The time constraints of the feature film denies it the opportunity to develop the mental trauma that Watney experiences when abandoned on a desolate, inhospitable planet, and the mental fortitude he displays as he confronts each obstacle block the viewer from his mind and costs the film a golden opportunity to make its main protagonist more relatable.
    In entirety, “The Martian” is a visually brilliantly movie, and an excellent action-packed drama. However, plot development is lacking, and the movie whisks viewers from one dramatic moment to the next, but does not pause to delve into Watney’s mentality, creating a character that is shallow and poorly developed. By choosing not to elaborate on Watney’s thoughts, the movie loses an important facet, and Watney serves more as a perfect, upbeat hero, rather than a deep, intelligent, and ultimately, human, protagonist. Despite these shortcomings, however, “The Martian” is an entertaining and enjoyable film.

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    1. This is much more in line with what they are looking for. You might want to add some information about Damon’s acting. I have a few notes on polishing. When you are done, I will work on the final edits with you. It won’t take very long. This is very good.

      Like

  3. Mrs. Rains, I have tried three times to post a comment on the “To Kill a Mockingbird” extra credit, but it will not display my comment, so I am posting it here.

    This website, run by the English Faculty of Melbourne High School, provides detailed information about themes, background, characters, and narrative, as well as additional information.
    This is the link: http://resources.mhs.vic.edu.au/mockingbird/index.htm

    I also found this interesting blog post on Harvard University’s website. It provides analysis of Harper Lee’s style as well as a brief summary.
    This is the link: https://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tatar/2010/07/07/why-is-it-a-sin-to-kill-a-monckingbir/

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    1. Aden, you’ve found two sites that I have in my own Favorites folder. I especially love the Melbourne High School pages, but Parker and Carrie both beat you to that one (even from your first comment’s time stamp). Of course, you had a back-up, so you’re in good shape. Great work!

      Just as a note, Comments don’t “post” until I have a chance to read over them just to be sure that no one posts anything inappropriate. When you make a comment, it sits in my list of comments for me to check on and approve for posting. If it takes longer than a few days, let me know. I do see your other comments, and I’m only going to post it once.

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  4. Sorry. I did not know why the comment was not showing. Anyway, here is my updated movie review. I made the corrections you suggested, but I am 16 words over the limit. If you could suggest any places where I could make this more succinct, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Released on October 2, 2015, to much fanfare and hype, “The Martian” is the latest in a growing line of visually stunning science fiction movies. The movie, based on Andy Weir’s acclaimed novel The Martian, follows the trials of NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who is portrayed by Matt Damon. Damon plays the part well, and his wry wit and sense of humor make him ideal for the upbeat role cast by the director. However, the personality choice for Watney, while adding an element of comedy to the film, is not perfect. This choice loses the more macabre aspect of the book and replaces it with a typical hero story.

    The movie focuses on the struggles Watney faces after he is left on behind on Mars, presumed dead after being hit by debris during a severe storm. However, Watney survived, but with only enough food and water to last for one month, and isolated from any aid from Earth for at least four years. From the moment he regains consciousness with critically low oxygen levels and a severe wound, Watney is confronted by nonstop challenges, both physical and psychological. After he treats his injury, Watney sits in thought, temporarily despondent at the realization that he is going to die. However, his buoyant personality soon surfaces, and he gets to work on creating a habitat for life on Mars and establishing contact with NASA. While the amazing technology and accompanying message of the value of one human life, are appropriate to this era, the film fails to match expectations.

    “The Martian”, while visually breathtaking, is somewhat lacking in plot development. The movie jumps from one drama-saturated scene to another, never fully developing the plot enough for the audience to fear for Watney’s life. The few moment of true tension and suspense, such as the moment Watney realizes death is inevitable, are quickly alleviated by his unfailingly humorous take on dire situations. The time constraint of the film denies it the opportunity to develop the mental trauma that Watney experiences when abandoned on a desolate, inhospitable planet, and the mental fortitude he displays as he confronts each obstacle block the viewer from his mind and costs the film a golden opportunity to make its main protagonist more relatable.

    In entirety, “The Martian” is a visually brilliantly movie, and an excellent action-packed drama. However, plot development is lacking, and the movie whisks viewers from one dramatic moment to the next, scarcely pausing to delve into Watney’s mentality, creating a character who is shallow and poorly developed. By choosing not to elaborate on Watney’s thoughts, the movie loses an important facet, and Watney serves more as a perfect, upbeat hero, rather than a deep, intelligent, and ultimately, human, protagonist. Despite these shortcomings, however, “The Martian” is an entertaining and enjoyable film.

    Liked by 1 person

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