Category Archives: Welcome

Now tweeting

I created a Twitter account for this blog. See the sidebar for a link. Hopefully, this tweeting thing works out better for me than it did for Chef Carl Casper. Although if all I have to do to find my path to true happiness is embarrass myself on social media, bring it on. Or even if I just get to have a consult with Amy Sedaris, Publicist Extraordinaire.

Seriously, though, wasn’t her scene in Chef just exactly like watching a live-action version of Princess Carolyn? Amazing.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, get thee immediately to BoJack Horseman (subject of my very first tweet). I’m not kidding. Can’t-afford-Netflix is the only acceptable excuse for not watching.

 

 

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Deathmatch: Ghost Stories

Does anyone else remember MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch? Admittedly I don’t remember it with a whole lot of special fondness. Frankly, it never really lived up to its full potential, and I always thought it peaked early with a pilot that was also its best episode ever (Charles Manson vs. Marilyn Manson). However, I do recall tuning into the show repeatedly — on purpose even — during the era when I lived in a college dorm. And I am grateful that it paved the way for shows like Robot Chicken.

Anyway, I bring it up to illustrate the concept that will be employed extensively on this blog. Basically, I watch two films that have at least some tenuous connection (e.g., same genre, same setting, same actor), and then I decide which one I liked better according to entirely arbitrary and subjective measures. That’s it. Typically this is how I entertain myself over a weekend when I have no social engagements of any kind and absolutely nothing productive to occupy my time. Unfortunately, I am frequently not entertained well, as Deathmatch often leads to me making poor viewing decisions, such as the one recapped below.

The Innkeepers vs. The Woman in Black!

Images from IMDb.com

Images from IMDb.com

Tie! And not the kind where they both walk away unscathed. Rather both died ignominiously in failure.

I’ll grant you that both movies hold your attention, but  they also both suffer from unsatisfying endings. And I mean they completely tank it on the last lap.

WIB had more plot and was more interested in telling a story (which I like) while Innkeepers kept itself busy mainly just observing the characters. WIB had more drama, excitement, and set pieces. Innkeepers is probably slightly more engaging and definitely more frightening, and its director had a better sense of how to effectively orchestrate a boo moment.

Ultimately I was a lot more frustrated with Innkeepers because I loved the first two acts so much. Imagine taking the characters from Clerks and lovingly transplanting them as-is into a serious horror movie. It struck me as inspired to contrast that deadpan irreverence with the scary stuff, but all the delightful cleverness gradually seeps out of the characters until you’re left with the standard group of horror idiots, waiting around to die and refusing to leave when no real person not tethered by the requirements of the screenplay would stay.

On the other hand, I was much more than disappointed by WIB. I was livid. As the credits rolled on WIB, I almost involuntarily spit out a profoundly crude expletive, which I will not repeat here (even though I’m not usually shy about dropping bombs). Keep in mind this was in a crowded theater on its opening weekend, and I had come with a friend, who was probably mortified. I still feel bad about that over a year later.

Suffice to say, I wouldn’t watch either film a second time. But I did enjoy revisiting this article about the release of WIB and the history of Hammer Film Productions.

 

 

Introduction to My Annual Movie Lists

Why do I track what movies I watch each year?

I’ve been doing this since 2003. I honestly can’t remember why I started. Probably because I saw someone else doing it online and just picked it up on a whim. A decade later, and I’m still at it.

I think initially all I got out of it was bragging rights. I can prove I see more movies than anyone else I know, or something stupid like that. I once had the goal to someday see a grand total of 52 movies in a calendar year, an average of one per week. I’ve never made it. The closest I’ve ever come was 2006, when I made it as high as 41 titles. I no longer believe 52 is realistically attainable for me. My lifestyle has changed, tickets prices rose dramatically, and I’ve gotten a lot fussier and harder to please. On the other hand, even in 2009 when I was working and in grad school at the same time (meaning I barely slept and sometimes forgot to feed myself), I still managed to work in 14 flicks.

Anyway, the number isn’t important to me anymore. I’m more focused now on percentages. How many did I actually enjoy? Am I spending my discretionary income wisely?

Looking back at the practice, I’m glad I’ve kept it going. It gives me a record of my personal history seen through the lens of my favorite pastime. I look at early lists and can tell by the titles on it that I was still living near my Best Guy Friend. I can see the difference between what films I saw before and after meeting my romantic partner and before and after I moved from Kansas City to Washington, DC. I can remember all the times I paid good money to see a cruddy movie out of filial duty (meaning I took my mom to see a chick flick just to make her happy). It’s lovely in its way.

And now I’ve even expanded. Beginning last year, I branched out from tracking just what new-new films I see in a theater to also tracking the new-to-me films I watch at home. I’m loving it.

Why am I posting the lists here and now?

I think it’s a great way to introduce myself as the new kid on the block. If we are what we like, then this will definitely give you some keen insights into what you’re getting into if you decide to follow this blog. Also, it’s good filler. It will give me a head start on generating content.

I wouldn’t even be here if Roger Ebert hadn’t died.

I’m posting this exactly nine days after discovering that I will never again read another new Roger Ebert review. He died on April 4, which was exactly one day after I had privately expressed to my best friend an earnest and sincere worry about Mr. Ebert’s health. I texted my friend a somewhat melodramatic statement:  “I’m not ready for Roger Ebert to die. I can’t deal with it.” And truthfully, this was not the first occasion I had said something along these lines to someone in my life.

In fact, on April 4, no less than three people I know contacted me to offer their condolences, just as if someone actually close to me had died. That’s probably a little weird. I acknowledge how strange it is that I feel so personally sad about it. But he was very active online, and I was a big fan, and so he ended up practically a daily part of my life. I visited his website. I read his reviews, his blog, his books. Even the one he wrote about his love of preparing one-pot recipes in his automatic rice cooker.* He was a regular fixture on my Facebook feed, to which, like so many other people, I have become addicted.

When some celebrities die, you have this fanciful regret about never getting to know them (as if that ever would’ve happened even if he or she had lived a thousand years). But he revealed so much of himself in his writing, that on some level I feel like I did know Mr. Ebert. So, in this instance, my conceited, little regret is just that he never knew me. And that isn’t so very farfetched at all because he interacted with his fans every day. He read and responded to their tweets and their blogs. He even grew to admire some of them and elevated them from obscurity by giving them a place of honor at his virtual table on his website.

I doubt that ever would’ve happened to me, no matter what, but the point is this:  I never even commented, not once, not on a single blog entry. Not on a single status update. I admired him so much, and I had so many opportunities to engage with him on subjects of mutual interest. And I just never did. I guess I just never felt like anything I had to say was interesting enough to justify grasping for his attention.

Which brings us to this blog.

Did I begin a blog in the wake of the death of the world’s most beloved film critic because I think I can replace him? Nope. I have not quite reached that level of delusional yet. It’s just that I talk and think and even write about movies and other media all the time, but I typically do it in email to friends or to a limited audience on Facebook. I have never before seriously contemplated making a real attempt to blog about these ideas because there’s an entire overwhelming universe of blogs already out there. What could I possibly add to that ginormous conversation already happening?

Well, we’ll see now, won’t we?

Some Good Ebert-related Tidbits:

“Epitaph for a Titan” by James Berardinelli

Funny or Die: 11 Funniest Lines from Roger Ebert’s Reviews of Bad Movies

The Onion: Roger Ebert Hails Human Existence as “A Triumph”

“Roger Loves Chaz” by Roger Ebert

Coming Soon!

A bunch of previously written, mostly pointless filler (because I hate an empty blog).

* I seriously doubt anyone else on the planet could’ve interested me in this topic. I’m not much of a cook (understatement), and I don’t even own a rice cooker.