Understanding cinema: how to think like a film critic

Online course


Join Kevin Maher, chief film critic of The Times for this ninety minute masterclass designed to lift the lid on the magic of cinema and hone your critical appreciation of film.

Everyone’s a film critic. You know what you like and don’t like, but do you know why? From the point-of-view shots of Hitchcock to the close-ups of Jane Campion and the busy edits of Martin Scorsese, the hidden technical tricks that make-up the mechanics of movies will be broken down by The Times Chief Film Critic Kevin Maher, before he takes you on a whirlwind tour of the five great, and long-running, movie genres: The Film Noir, Western, Musical, Melodrama and Sci-Fi.

Following the course you'll feel confident to name check auteur theory, voyeurism and spectatorship, and may find yourself rushing to watch Nomadland in a brand new light (’s a Western, of course).

This ninety minute online masterclass offers an introduction to film theory and appreciation, and is suitable for anyone with a love of cinema, who would like to appreciate it with a more discerning eye.

On completion of the short online course, you will have:

  • A deeper understanding of movie mechanics 
  • An appreciation of film history
  • Recognition of how movies - all movies - relate to each other
  • Improved confidence to think critically about film

Films which will be discussed as part of the course: 

The Piano, The Searchers, Vertigo, A Bout de Souffle, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Mildred Pierce, A Place in the Sun, Metropolis, Calamity Jane, La La Land, Frozen, Hostiles, High Society, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, About Schmidt, Shadowlands, Tokyo Story, ET, Star Wars and many many more. 

The course will be taught via the webinar platform Big Marker, and will include film clips, and Q&A. You will not be required to have your camera and microphone on. 

Tutor bio: Kevin Maher is The Times Chief Film Critic. He began writing for the paper in 2004, and before that was the film editor of The Face magazine. He has seen, he suspects, during the course of his career, over 10,000 movies, and has spoken to most of Hollywood at some point. He once interviewed Martin Scorsese in New York and Dennis Hopper in Paris in the same day (there were flights involved). They did not discuss auteur theory.

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