Film reviews: a guide to where to find them

  • The aim of this guide is to help you locate printed and electronic sources which contain film reviews or critical analyses of films. You are welcome to contact your Academic Liaison Librarian if you want more help.

    Tracing film reviews in newspapers

    Many UK newspapers carry film reviews. 

    Full-text newspaper articles, including film reviews, can be accessed through these two databases:

    • LexisLibrary
      To search the database for film reviews, click on News in the red menu bar on the initial screen. At the news search screen you can use the Select Sources drop-down menu to search all UK newspapers or just broadsheets, for example. You can search for a specific film and/or director and add the word 'review'. Note that sometimes the database does not specifically use the term review, so this search will not necessarily pick up everything. If you know the year of a film's release, this should help to focus your results. When you have run your search, a useful tip is to select Expanded List from the View options which enables you to see where your search terms appear in context.
    • Factiva is an international news database providing an archive of 10,000 sources from 152 countries in 22 languages. To search the database for film reviews:
      • Type the film title and/or director in the 'Free Text' search box.
      • Click on 'Subject', then type reviews in the 'Find a Subject' box. In the list of sub-headings, click on the headings 'Movies' and 'Reviews' to select them. Make sure that these headings are linked by 'and', rather than 'or'.
      • You can narrow down your search in various ways. If you know the year of a film's release, use the 'Date' option to focus your search.

    Using databases to find film reviews in journals

    You may also want to find film reviews which have been published in journals. The Library subscribes to various printed and online journals that will carry reviews and features on films.

    Printed journals available at Headington Library include:

    • Sight and Sound is a key journal for film articles and reviews, published monthly by the BFI. The printed journal is available in the Headington Library shelved at J 791.43/S ( Vol.36-,1967-. Also Vol.1-49, 1932-1980 available on microfilm). You can use various databases to trace reviews and articles that have been published in Sight and Sound - see below for details of how to do this.
    •  Times Literary Supplement is published weekly and includes some film reviews and features. Issues for the last ten years are available in the Headington Library shelved at J 028/T
       .

    The best way to trace film reviews or articles which have been published in print or electronic journals, is to use a database . Below are some tips on searching for film reviews in some key databases. For further sources, look at the complete list of Databases for Film :

    Full text databases

    Note that these databases contain a mixture of full text and abstracts:

    • Performing Arts Periodicals Database includes references and full-text articles from many key film journals. Full-text articles are available from sources such as Film Comment; Film Criticism and Sight and Sound (selective coverage). To search the database for film reviews:
      • Type in the title of the film and/or the director in the search box(es).
      • Scroll down the screen to select 'Film Review' from the list next to 'Document Type'.
    • Academic Search Complete and Art Full Text both cover several full-text film journals, including Films in Review and Film Comment. To find film reviews:
      • Type in the title of the film and/or the director in the search box(es)
      • In the bottom half of the screen you have options to 'limit your results'. Scroll down to the box labelled 'Document type' and browse through the list of options available. Select 'Entertainment review'
    • Communication & Mass Media Complete is on the same site as Academic Search Complete and Art Full Text. It also provides full-text articles from a number of key film journals such as the Quarterly Review of Film & Video. There is no limit option allowing you to restrict your search to just film reviews on this database, but you can use 'review' as a keyword in addition to the film title.

    Abstract/Index databases

    These databases will give you references and perhaps abstracts for relevant journal articles and reviews, but not the full text. You will often get the Full Text Finder option below references on these databases. You can click on this to check whether the article is available as an e-journal and then link to it.

    • Arts and Humanities Citation Index via Web of Science. This database covers material on all subjects including film and media studies and is updated weekly.
      To find film reviews:
      • Connect to the ISI Web of Knowledge site and choose Web of Science from the tabs near the top of the screen.
      • All 4 databases which make up Web of Science will be automatically selected. To just search the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, scroll down the screen and uncheck the boxes next to Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index and Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Science Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Science.
      • Type in your keyword(s) in the first search box
      • When your search results are displayed, the 'Refine Results' box on the left of the screen allows you to select a specific document type. Select 'Film Review' and click on 'Refine'.
    • FLI Online (Film Literature Index) contains citations to film, television and video articles, reviews and book reviews. 150 international film and video journals are fully indexed. A further 200 journals are regularly scanned for relevant articles. The database contains material published between 1976 and 2001. No abstracts are included but there are over 2,000 subject headings providing detailed analysis of the articles.

      FLI Online is currently available as a free service.

    Internet Sites

    The following sites include film reviews:

    • The BBC Film site has features and reviews on a wide range of topics. It includes links to:
      • The Film Programme (BBC Radio 4) which provides features and interviews.
      • The Arts programme Front Row (BBC Radio 4) which also offers film reviews..
    • Empire Online Web site for the British monthly film magazine including an archive of their reviews.
    • Film Education is a registered charity funded by the film industry in the UK which aims to encourage and promote the study of film and cinema within schools. The site includes access to free online study guides on specific films or topics. For study guides coverings topics or film genres, choose 'Free Resources' from the links at the top of the front page. For study guides covering specific films, choose 'Download study guides in the Film Library' from the menu on the left hand of the front page. This will take you to an A-Z listing of film titles.
    • Films in Review has been published for some sixty years. Formerly a print journal it is now only available online. The web site includes a review section and the FIR Archive which provides articles from past issues, including contributions by famous filmmakers. Note that this journal is also available via the database Academic Search Complete
    • Guardian Film is part of The Guardian newspaper's Web site and film-related articles, interviews and reviews.
    • Images - a Journal of Film and Popular Culture is an online journal providing film reviews and articles.
    • Kamera is a UK-based website providing features and reviews on arthouse, independent and world cinema.
    • Movie Gazette is a UK-based site which contains reviews of recent screen and DVD releases. Although the majority of films covered are from Hollywood, the site also provides coverage of British, European and Asian film releases.
    • Scope is a free online journal of film studies from the staff and students of the University of Nottingham. It features articles, book and film reviews plus conference reports.
    • Screenonline produced by the bfi is dedicated to the history of film and television in Britain. It provides access to a range of resources including still images, analyses, biographies, posters, press books, student guides and pointers to resources for further study. Staff and students of Oxford Brookes can also access video clips and recorded interviews from the collections of the bfi National Film and Television Archive. Note that these clips can only be accessed from Brookes PCs - there is no off-campus access to these features.
    • The Sight and Sound web site has a searchable database of all the published reviews, synopses and credits published in the journal since December 1999. Select 'Archive' from the links on the left of the page. Note that only a selection of their features and reviews are published online.
    • Variety Web version of the American film industry journal offers news bulletins and reviews, although older articles are only available to subscribers.

    Books

    The Library has various books like the series BFI Film Classics and BFI Modern Classics which provide critical surveys of specific film titles. To find a book on a specific film search by keyword or title on LibrarySearch  BFI Film Classics are also available through Film Scripts Online. Once logged in to the database you can search or browse Critical Assessments.