Thursday, February 25, 2016

James Berardinelli

In a nutshell, here's a quick sketch of who I am and where I have been... I was born in September 1967 in the town of New Brunswick, New Jersey (USA). I spent my early childhood in the town of Morristown, NJ. I started writing when I was about 9 years old, and suffered through the traumatic experience of reading chapters from my stories in front of my entire fourth grade class. Around that time, I moved to Cherry Hill, NJ, which is where I endured my junior high school and high school years. During that time, I showed an equal aptitude for writing, science, and mathematics. Although my "first love" was writing, too many tales of starving authors scared me off that path, so I decided to sell out and go to college to become an engineer. I attended the University of Pennsylvania from 1985 through 1990, obtaining both a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering. Putting my education to good use, I went to work for a company called Bellcore (now re-named with the moniker of "Telcordia Technologies") and spent the next 15 years working in a variety of fields, including fiber optics, video testing (for which I commuted weekly to Chicago for 40 weeks), and software systems. My day job is currently with Telcordia; I make enough money to pay the mortgage, keep up my home theater, finance film festival trips, and buy the 20 gallons of gasoline I need each week to attend screenings. I got married during the summer of 2004. As for my "film history"... As a child, I did not spend much time in theaters. In fact, the first movie I remember going to was Jaws, at a drive-in. I fell asleep about 15 minutes into it, long before things got interesting. I was 7 years old at the time. The next film I saw, and the first in an indoor theater, was King Kong, in 1976. By that time, however, I had watched a huge number of classic horror movies on TV. As I entered my teen years, I saw more films, but not many. Probably 5-6 per year, and I never went alone (the idea of going to a theater by myself seemed strange). The three movies I recall standing in the longest lines for: 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, and 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I really started getting interested in film when I was at college; my then-girlfriend liked to see at least one movie per week, and I accompanied her. After I graduated, my pace slackened off a little. In 1991, the year before I started reviewing, I saw about 30 films. The number jumped up to 180 in 1992, when I wrote capsule reviews for my own use. Starting in 1993, when I "went public," I began seeing between 220 and 250 theatrical releases per year. Until early 1997, I did this as a paying consumer, until, finally, I did something about becoming accredited. Website: The late Roger Ebert referred to James as the best of the web-based critics.

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