“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things.”
This is a quote from the great Martin Scorsese. It’s Jean Carlos Sanchez favorite quote.
Jean Carlos Sanchez is a rising Dominican-American film critic. Born and raised in Dyckman, which is a part of Washington Heights in New York. A community heavily populated by Latinos especially Dominicans. For as long as Jean can remember, he’s always loved film.
“The first film I can vividly remember watching was “Poltergeist” and I was just blown away by it. Wrestling, Sports and movies were always my things. I didn’t fully get into studying film the way I do now, until I was about 13, when my sister Vianela started dating my brother in law Hector,” Sanchez says. “He started lending me DVDs of older films and that opened my eyes to movies that weren’t just commercially appealing. I then would do my own research by looking up actors and directors going film by film.”
So what drove Jean Carlos Sanchez to become a film critic?
“Roger Ebert, the goat of film criticism was a big inspiration and somebody I admired,” Sanchez stated. “I would constantly be on YouTube watching his movie reviews with Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper. I loved seeing others talk about films as it was something I did and I enjoyed breaking films down. So, I felt this was something I could do long term, due to my passion for film.”
Sanchez is knowing for delivering breaking news, trailers and in depth reviews for movies and shows. For many years, friends would tell Jean to create an Instagram page dedicated to movies. But Jean refused until one friend changed his mind.
“One day, a childhood friend of mine named Chris who we call Hyper just said something that clicked and I decided to go for it. I always had a lot of friends come to me for opinions on films and to give them mini reviews so it just made perfect sense to finally do it,” Sanchez says. “The name “Merc With The Movies” came from my girlfriend Jennifer, she knows I’m a big Deadpool fan. When she said it, I instantly felt in love with it because I wanted my Instagram name to have a movie or film in the title, so people could know it was a film/movie page.”
During the beginning of “Merc With The Movies” Era, Jean endured a few challenges that any new business page would face.
“At first, the challenge was getting people who weren’t friends of mine to support the page, which is something that has gotten better; as I have a couple of truly loyal followers that I have built good bonds with,” Sanchez says. “Another challenge was getting better at writing reviews. I look back at some of my old reviews and I feel I’ve come a long way. I read some old reviews now and they come off mediocre like I had yet to find my voice and confidence.”
When you are trying to create or build something, there’s always going to be positive and negative comments thrown at you. It comes with the territory no matter what position or field you’re in. When I asked Jean if he remembered one specific positive and negative comment that stood out to him, he said this:
“Well, it was 3 different pages that are loyal followers but they pretty much said the same thing. I had made a post about how I may not have 20K followers and stuff but I loved what I did on my page and putting people on. The three of them pretty much said they spoke for everybody that they appreciated what I do, that my reviews and updates are necessary and influence them. And they loved how they can voice their opinions without any judgement from me. How I’m a virtual friend to them and they love that they can share their passion for film with somebody like me,” Sanchez explained.
“Negative comments I don’t get many but they’ll be an occasional troll that would try belittling me for not having many followers and some of my posts getting little likes. Which is okay because some posts get a lot of likes,” he continued. “It all depends on the interest of people. I don’t only post about popular films, I try supporting indie and foreign films.”
Many artists like myself are “jack of all trades”. Love to be versatile and wear so many hats in a film production. Jean loves critiquing films, but his love for film goes beyond than just one category.
“I went to college to study film, I was a film studies major in fact. I took some screenwriting courses and I really enjoyed it because I’ve been told by teachers I have a very creative mind,” Sanchez says. “So maybe one day, I would love to write a screenplay or script treatment like get a story by credit where a more accomplished writer could bring out my ideas in a better way.”
Sanchez has high expectations for himself. He’s also looking into expanding his knowledge and love for film by creating a website and/or using YouTube for more exposure.
“One of my goals is to maybe make the jump into creating a website to be taken more serious and considered press one day,” Sanchez says. “Another goal is to hopefully one day get rid of my camera shyness and make reviews on YouTube. I tend to hate that Instagram has a caption limit and I have to cut reviews short. Making YouTube movie reviews would allow me to go on for a couple of minutes. I’d be able to really cover everything I want to touch on.”
If it wasn’t for film, what would Jean Carlos Sanchez have done for a living?
“My first passion was wrestling. As a kid you couldn’t tell me it was fake and I wanted to be a wrestler,” he continued. “I dreamed of moving to Canada and training in the Hart Family dungeon. Obviously we know that didn’t become a reality. My other love being sports I maybe would of wanted to cover sports.”
Knowing Jean for almost 10 years, one of the things we talk about is the “Top 5, Top 10” of any category. In this situation, we get to know more about Jean’s favorite genre, actors, actresses, films and shows.
“My favorite genre is crime, I’m a sucker for mob films or crime thrillers. My top 5 favorite films are Terminator 2: Judgement Day, GoodFellas, Pulp Fiction, Heat and Cinema Paradiso,” Sanchez says. “My 6-10 change rotations a lot but the top 5 have remained the same for a while. My two favorite sitcoms of all time are Seinfeld and Friends and all time favorite shows are The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Oz, The Wire and Entourage, which kind of tells you how much I really love the crime genre,” he continued. “My favorite actors are Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino and Joaquin Phoenix. On the actress side my top two have always been Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand, I feel those are two actresses who even if they are in a bad film, don’t put out bad performances.”
Jean Carlos Sanchez’s go-to sites in regards to news and updates about movies is The Playlist, Screen Rant and Reel Talk Inc. The site Reel Talk Inc is run by his friend David Gonzalez and his wife Jennie. He recommends any cinephile to follow the Reel Talk Inc Instagram page and the podcast Reel Chronicles.
The world may not know who Jean Carlos Sanchez is yet, but one day they will. He can go in depth with films from the silent film era to modern films of the 21st century. To find out more about his work, follow his Instagram page @mercwiththemovies.
Sanchez currently reside in Spanish Harlem.