When I started my first movie review, I found it impossibly too complicated to express in a mere four-hundred words. I chose to write on Les Miserables, and there was no lack of content to talk about. In my notes I started to write different aspects of the movie, and then a few notes about them.
After I had about a dozen different thoughts on the page, I started to think about how they related to one another, and to the film as a whole. In one category I noticed how the movie was very slow, and in another I had written that the close-up shots lasted for ages. By having them both on the page I could make the judgment that the reason I thought the movie was slow was because of the boring cinematography.
As I began to discover other mediums to write on, it immediately became clear to me why critics usually specialize. I definitely thought that I would make more assertive and authoritative arguments in my review when it was on something I was familiar with.
For example, when reviewing the Oscars, I felt like a had an inside perspective from my experience working in the TV production studio. We had talked in class about the momentous effort in producing a live awards show on television.
By understanding (to some degree) how the show was being televised I thought I wrote a strong review of the event, not just the movies or celebrities. The conclusion I've come to is that it's best to sample a lot of different mediums, and when you find one you like to write on, write on it.
At the same time, though, it's been my experience that it's much easier to write on a medium that I myself have produced, or at least been involved in. It gives you an understanding that allows for more critical judgments, and as a result, better reviews.
Sometimes the biggest challenge of writing a review wasn't the writing. I often found myself clicking 'word count' and combing the page for redundancies or superfluousness. I would take out a word here, shorten a phrase there, and the whole process really made me appreciate the art of working with words.
My entire life writing was always an act of more, never less. More pages, more lines, more paragraphs, but with in writing reviews it's an act of more creativity. With smaller boundaries a writer has to be more flexible and solve, not more, but different problems, than say a novelist.
I don't know if I agree with Wilde that critics are the greatest of artists, but he did convince me that criticism is an art. One that I have enjoyed greatly, I hope that someday someone will value my opinions enough to pay me for them, but until then I'm glad that I had the chance to take Arts Journalism.