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GRE Vocabulary List: Movie Review Vocab

In an earlier post, I mentioned how movie reviews can be a great place to learn GRE vocabulary in context. Whatever your perception of movies is – whether you see them as a trashy, debased form of art, or as the apotheosis of creative expression – movie reviews are usually written in a thoughtful, probing manner.

Below is a nuanced take on the new Leonardo DiCaprio Film, “J. Edgar”, based on the life of the much reviled 20th century figure J. Edgar Hoover.

I recommend reading the entire article – though here, I’ve excerpted only one paragraph.

Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” is, of all things, a portrait of a soul. The movie is a nuanced account of J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) as a sympathetic monster, a compound of intelligence, repression, and misery—a man whose inner turmoil, tamed and sharpened, irrupts in authoritarian fervor. Eastwood and the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have re-created that period in the nineteen-twenties and thirties when a righteous young man with a stentorian style could electrify a nation. Outraged by scattered bomb plots and shifting values—what seems to him the moral chaos of modern life—Hoover senses that Americans need safety, or, at least, the illusion of safety, and he becomes the vessel of their protection, exercising and justifying, with ironclad rhetoric, his own dominance.

Nuanced (adj.) – subtle, have many different shades

Turmoil (n.)–  a violent uproar; chaos; commotion

Irrupt (v.) – to break forth violently (think of erupt)

Authoritarian (adj.) – absolute (in terms of rule); autocratic, domineering

Fervor – passion and ardor

Stentorian – describing a voice that is loud and powerful

Ironclad – (in terms of an agreement or rule) one-hundred percent

Again, I would recommend reading the entire article, and looking up all those words you do not know.


Extra Credit

For the intrepid out there – write your own movie review using twenty GRE words (they don’t necessarily have to be from this article). Of course, that movie does not have to be J.Edgar, which, despite the David Denby’s panegyric, is mostly getting tepid reviews. And, as much as possible, try to mirror Denby’s writing style, i.e avoid writing sentences like, “The movie was very lugubrious”.

Good luck, and, if you feel like you’ve written a Denby-esque review, send it this way, and I’ll excerpt a little of it on the blog!


By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

One Response to GRE Vocabulary List: Movie Review Vocab

  1. Vanan June 26, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    My GRE Score is 315 – 153V + 162Q — Is the score good univ for top univ for CS? Do I have to retake the test? Is hitting a 170 in Quants mandatory for CS majors in general?

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