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Movie critic joins Trib news lineup

Starting next week, Rutland Tribune readers can see what he thinks about the newest theatrical releases and get advice on the best video rentals in his long-running film review column, The Movie Diary. Cioffi began writing his column 13 years ago after agreeing to fill in for a reviewer who was on hiatus. Basically, I was at the right place at the right time, says Cioffi. It was a spur of the moment decision. Before I knew what I was saying, I had the job. The assignment was a good one as Cioffi had a longstanding love affair with motion pictures. Although I had never critiqued a film in a professional manner, I had definite opinions and considered myself well-versed in the art form, he states. Since that first night at the theater, Cioffi has now reviewed nearly 1000 films and videos. Originally, Cioffi approached his reviews in the standard fashion, following a style most people associate with a written critique. Over time, however, the column took on a unique edge. I realized that on a personal level I didnt like to know too much about a film before I went to see it. I assumed other people felt the same so I began to alter my critique in such a way that I gave readers a good idea how a film felt without exposing every last detail. Cioffi created this feel by highlighting personal experiences or opinions that related to the film. The approach seems to work. Ive been really pleased with the columns reception over the years, he states. Thankfully, most people agree with my assessments and value my opinion. He says its not uncommon for readers to email him looking for advice on an upcoming film or DVD. It was one of these emails that prompted Cioffi to include a video pick section to his column. I love to rent old or obscure DVDs in an attempt to find hidden gems, he states. There are thousands of unknown films that people would enjoy if they simply knew they existed. Cioffi says that including this section gives him the opportunity to promote a quality film even if that weeks new release is less than worthy. Cioffi knew his column was being read but didnt realize just how far reaching his opinions went until he wrote a mock review several years ago for an April Fools release. In that column he detailed a fabricated Hollywood blockbuster entitled The Ruse, indicating that it was due to be released with no advertising campaign or media support. He expounded on its virtues, proclaiming it the absolute pinnacle of modern cinema. The fictitious film was supposedly co-directed by Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Copolla and involved the upper echelon of acting talent, from Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro to Meryl Streep and Russell Crowe. I honestly thought people would see through it since it was so completely over-the-top, says Cioffi. Most did, but quite a few fell for it. After the first day of publication the local theater called to complain about the number of inquires concerning The Ruse. Before I knew what was happening, the whole thing started snowballing, he states. Suddenly the local cinema had people showing up from out of town anticipating a life-changing theater experience. After dealing with a number of angry patrons, the theater got even by posting Cioffis home phone number on their movie hot line. My phone rang non-stop for several days, but it was fair retribution, says Cioffi with a smile. I walked away from that experience with a better understanding of human nature and the power of the written word.

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