Back in 2001, we started our Cinema in Focus website to house and reference the hundreds of movie reviews that we had written and published since December 1994. We didn’t quite realize it at the time, but by creating this website — something we saw as perhaps secondary to what was being run in the newspapers in which we were published — we began to understand that we had created a great opportunity and resource for people around the world.
We thought we were creating a warehouse. The truth is, through our commentaries and our website, we ended up creating a model to be copied and a conversation to be continued around many different tables. We were contacted by television news agencies wishing to run segments. We were sought out by foreign nationals who asked if they could start their own “Cinema In Focus” for a dialogue about ethics and values portrayed in entertainment.
We participated in very engaging conversations with book publishers, movie directors, producers and actors — many of whom desired the same thing: to portray and talk about something substantial and worthwhile, something meaningful about the human experience or the divine.
As the social media revolution was born and grew, so did the need to expand our channels of reach. We started a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, an Instagram channel; all of these were in addition to our email newsletter.
It’s been 12 years since the start of cinemainfocus.com and hundreds of movie reviews later, many fantastic new web tools have been developed. We have updated our website to take advantage of these fantastic resources Below are just a few of our recent changes. We hope you enjoy the new website as much as we do!
You can now scroll through our most recently reviewed movies right from the front page.
From the moment you load our new website, you can see our five most recent commentaries. By clicking on the “back and forward” arrows that are located at the top right of this area, you can see our 20 most recent movie reviews.
The website is specially formatted for when you are browsing from your mobile phone.
When browsing on-the-go, cinemainfocus.com automatically formats to a mobile-friendly format. This gives a more stylus- or finger-friendly interface, and creates less of a need for pinching and zooming during navigation.
We have overhauled and brought to the forefront our CIF award winners!
Each year, Cinema In Focus looks back through the reviews of the last 365 days and makes special note of movies that have been the most significant from the vantage points of inspiration, community values, redemption, uplifting narrative, personal growth, sacrifice, hope, healing and faith. In previous formats of this website, these easily got lost in the shuffle. We felt it was time that these select movies got the special treatment they deserve. They can now all be found in a special location on the front page of cinemainfocus.com.
One of our most requested features was the ability for visitors to locate all movie reviews of a certain star rating — now you can do this!
Where can I find all of your 4-Star scored movies? What are your favorites? How can I find what your lowest-ranked movies are? For the last several years, we have featured the ability to access our “Best Rated” movies. Now, we have provided the option to locate collections of our 3-Star movies, 2-Star movies, 1-Star movies and incrementally rated movies (rare). This can be found on our front page, but also on any movie review page.
“And the Academy Award goes to ...” — We have collected all of our Oscar-winning movie reviews in one place.
Regardless of whether it was an individual actor or the actual film that took the Academy Award, we decided to give these films and reviews a special place. We believe that Oscar-conferred movies, by their very nature of being award-winners, create viewership and are worth discussing and analyzing for their message and expressed values.
You can locate movies by their MPAA rating.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) represents the major Hollywood studios and administers the movie-rating system that we are accustomed to seeing (G-rated movies, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17). Sometimes we have readers who would like to see our reviews related to children’s movies. Perhaps they are the parent of a younger child, an older child or a young teen and want to know what values are portrayed in a movie designated for their child’s age. The movie ratings system attempts (not always perfectly) to give a broad and simple guide as to the content of a movie. We saw a huge benefit by implementing the ability to locate reviews by their MPAA designation.
Like Sci-Fi? Westerns? Comedies? Now you can find reviews based on their genre.
Are you a fan of Fantasy, War flicks, Dramas? Are you a westerns fanatic or looking for an action movie? If you answered “Yes” to any of these, you’re in luck! We dug deep into our archives and decided it would be worth installing the ability to find whole groups of movie reviews by their film category. It can all be done right from the front page: simply scroll down to the bottom of the homepage and we have provided links to some specifically earmarked movie reviews.
Don’t see what you want? We’ve even provided the option to see all of our category tags.
Still catching up on last year’s movies? No problem! You can use cinemainfocus.com to see our movie reviews of films released within a given year.
Let’s say you are reading the review for The Railway Man. It’s still in Redbox. It looks interesting. And you say to yourself, “What else might be good to watch from last year? Or maybe the year before?” We’ve got you covered! At the bottom of each review, you will find a year tag. (In this example, it looks like “#2013.”) By clicking this tag, you can see every review for that year.
Expert Tip: Want to see a different year? Do the step above and then go to the address bar of your browser and change the year (in this case, “2013”) to a different year. If we’ve reviewed that year, you’ll get our complete list. If we haven’t reviewed it, you’ll just get an error page suggesting that you’re a little lost ...
You just watched 12 Years a Slave and read our review. You’re now in the mood and looking for other movies that we have reviewed as “Powerful.” Or, to take an opposite example, you just watched The Ugly Truth and agree with our review designating that it was “Demeaning” and would like to not see similar movies. You’re in luck! Our library has the ability to find a film review by the value descriptor with which we rated it.
Expert Tip: This tip works like the tip above (No. 8: searching by movie year). Simply go to the bottom of the review that you are reading, click on the value tag (in these examples, it would look like “#Powerful” or “#Demeaning”) and a complete list from our database will compile. The same “Expert Tip” listed above (No. 8) will work for finding value-descriptors, too.
What website would be complete without a couple of hidden features or humorous quirks? We’re not suggesting that if you press your up and down arrows in a certain pattern that you’ll find something, but we would be remiss if we failed to mention that this list of 10 changes is not comprehensive! We’ve even hinted at one Easter egg on this page ...
— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.