Joseph Belanger has been writing about film now for more than seven years. What began as a pastime, quickly became a passion and eventually grew into the profession it is today. Over the years, Joseph's skills as a writer have grown exponentially and garnered the attention of The National Post, CBC and The Movie Network. For a while, he was the main film critic for weeklies, Hour Community in Montreal and Xpress in Ottawa. He has been published on popular online sites, Ioncinema and The Toronto Film Scene and is also a regular guest on Montreal's biggest English language talk radio station, CJAD 800. All the while, Joseph has published regular film criticism and interviews on his own personal blog, Black Sheep Reviews.

Joseph is actively seeking new freelance opportunities and would like to present you with samples of his work for your consideration. To demonstrate the range of his writing, Joseph has selected reviews that are both negative and positive, interviews that have been published in a variety of forums and features that present another side of Joseph's personality. His resume can be found past the writing samples below.

Joseph would like to thank you for taking the time to visit his portfolio. And just in case you were curious, Joseph's favourite movie is Annie Hall.

Joseph can be reached at joseph.belanger@gmail.com


When I first started writing film criticism, I never imagined I would go on to interview some of my favourite filmmakers and actors. Years later though, I have had the pleasure of sitting opposite the likes of Gus Van Sant, Mark Ruffalo and Xavier Dolan. I've developed quite the taste for interviews, be it an intimate one on one or a cramped round table discussion where you have to fight to get your question in. The following examples are a few of my favourite interviews from the past few years.

Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive was one of the best pictures I saw at least year's Toronto International Film Festival. I had an interview scheduled with Refn but my chances of getting some face time with Ryan Gosling weren't looking very promising. At the last second, as is so often the case at film festivals, a seat opened up to speak with one of Canada's most successful exports. Gosling is intense in person. You can tell press is not something he truly enjoys but you could also tell he was extremely happy with the film. Drive was being released theatrically while the festival was still ongoing so I had to turn our interview around very quickly and still stay on top of the festival itself. Our chat would go on to be the Ottawa Xpress cover story that week. Click here to read my interview with Ryan Gosling.

Surviving Progress was one of those films that didn't register on my radar whatsoever but that fell into my lap (at my editor's request) at the last moment. I'm still so happy that it did because my interview with the documentary's directors, Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks, was one of the most genuine ones I've ever had. When the interview came out, as a cover story for Montreal's Hour Community, the reaction I received from Roy himself was one of such great admiration and appreciation. It was quite rewarding and I felt very fortunate that I got to do my part in bringing a wider audience to this film. Click here to read my Surviving Progress feature.

One of my first film festival experiences was the Tribeca International Film Festival a few years back. I didn't see too many great films but it was a terrific crash course into the fast paced world of film festival coverage. The highlight of the festival, without question, was meeting Steven Soderbergh and talking to him about The Girlfriend Experience. I am a big fan of Soderbergh's work, including this particular film, and the entire experience, from the private screening to the luxurious 5th Avenue hotel suite where we held the interview, was like a dream. When I found out the article would be published on CBC Arts Online, I was convinced I hadn't yet woken up. Click here to read my interview with Steven Soderbergh.


I have been writing film reviews since I was in high school. It took me a very long time to start writing them with reliable frequency but once I started blogging, I never looked back. I believe that film criticism (or film enthusiasm, as I often prefer) is inherently subjective. I bring my own experiences to every film I see, which in turn, affects the way I see it. I try to avoid deeming a film good or bad but rather strive to contextualize how it came across to me and let the reader make up their own mind past that. Here are a few examples of some recent film reviews I've written.

While I appreciate seeing films ahead of time at press screenings because they allow me to get the jump on my writing well before the film is released, it can at times have an impact on how the film is seen. There isn't always a lot of excitement in the room, if you know what I mean. This was not the case for The Avengers. The room was packed and there were just as many cheers and as much applause as one would expect at a public screening. I too had a fantastic time with this giant blockbuster, which is the point after all. Click here to read my 4-star review of The Avengers.

Sadly, we can't love them all. When I caught Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz in a pre-TIFF press screening last year, I was not the least bit surprised when the press were asked to  hold all their reviews until after the film had its first public screening. I found the film to be a particularly difficult one to sit through and, while I am not always this biting in my tone, I can be when the film actually angers me while I'm watching it.  I tend to be more affected by disappointments than films I expected to not be great before going into them. I wanted this film to be better. Click here to read my 2-star review of Take This Waltz.

Madonna's W.E. is a perfect example of how personal bias can cloud the critic on occasion. I will never say that the film is good but I found that the lambasting it took on the festival circuit stank of animosity toward the singer and not the film itself. And so I decided to defend the film, or at least the elements of the film I felt deserved defending. While the film may not be for you, it may very well be for somebody out there. I felt there was an audience for this film, albeit an obscure one, and I didn't want them to miss out. Fun fact: If you pick up W.E. on DVD, you will read a quote from my review on the back of the box. Click here to read my 3-star review of W.E.

I see a lot of movies. Sometimes, I lose track of just how many. And, every now and then, I see too many movies at once and they all start to become the same movie in the back of my mind. Then there are films like Steve McQueen's Shame that are unmistakably distinct from the first moment you are fortunate enough to behold them. I've seen this film three times now and I am mesmerized by it every time. For me, it is an instant classic and this is why I rewarded it with the highest honour I can in a film review. Click here to read my rare 5-star review of Shame.


From time to time, I am either asked to or I am inspired to write features that are neither interviews nor reviews. These are always challenging because they force me to get out of my comfort zone. If I had more time, I would like to do more of them but they just keep releasing more and more movies every week so time is not something I always have a lot of. Here are two features that I am particularly pleased with.

Last year, the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre began running a Books on Film Club series. Patrons were asked to read a book and then see the film based on that book and participate in a discussion group led by authorities on the subject. It was a delightful experience, which brought me to The Toronto Film Scene, an online film magazine that focuses on everything film in Toronto. The first book in the series was Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, which would become, at least on some small level, Spike Jonze's Adaptation. Click here to read my full analysis of the evening and the adaptation itself.

I was quite sad when I learned that Heath Ledger had passed away. I felt as though Hollywood and the world had just lost one of the most promising talents to come around in years. When The Movie Network asked me to write a piece about his passing, I was honoured to do so.  The piece originally ran on TMN's Movie Entertainment website but the site has since been shut down. Instead, you can still read it on my personal site, Black Sheep Reviews. Click here to read my tribute to Heath Ledger.

As a final suggestion, I leave you with my Summer 2011 Movie Preview, as published in Ottawa's Xpress. It is comedic in tone and exhibits a facet of my personality that does'n often make it into my work. I always enjoy writing pieces like this because I can relax and just be myself. Click here to read my 2011 Summer Movie Preview.