Monday, January 25, 2010

THE MOVIE PROJECTOR Returns Feb. 1


THE MOVIE PROJECTOR will return on Monday, February 1, with a few changes. The scope of the site will still be eclectic, with the emphasis on classic films (those made between roughly 1930-1980), my chief area of interest. The focus, however, will be more limited: I will be writing mostly in the brief review format, in each post typically reviewing one film I've recently watched. And I will no longer be posting on a regular schedule, as I have in the past. For the present, this will all be on a trial basis, and after a few weeks I'll see how satisfied I am with it.

The impetus for this change is my desire to find a less labor-intensive way of blogging. I've found that the ambitious goal I set for myself of producing an analytical essay each week is simply too time-consuming and has begun to feel too much like an obligation. The work I've done at THE MOVIE PROJECTOR has been satisfying, but it has begun to distract me from other important things in my life.

I've also found it increasingly difficult to come up with original subjects that are meaningful to me, films that are fresh enough to me and that make a strong enough impression on me to inspire me to write about them. From the first, I decided that unless I had something new to bring to the discussion, I wanted to avoid writing about movies that have endured what has been called "analysis to paralysis." I admire and love Trouble in Paradise, Citizen Kane, All About Eve, Vertigo, The Seven Samurai, and Persona, but does the world really need my thoughts about such films, which have been the subjects of extensive academic analysis and some of which have had entire books written about them? My posts have been inspired mostly by my recent movie-viewing experiences, films of the period I'm interested in that are new to me or that I have rediscovered. I like to think that my posts might inspire some readers to seek out these films to enjoy for the first time or to revisit, although I sometimes get the impression I'm preaching to the converted.

Finding titles that haven't already been well covered is becoming ever harder. Since I started THE MOVIE PROJECTOR a year-and-a-half ago, many excellent blogs about classic movies have come along. WONDERS IN THE DARK, with its decade countdowns anchored by the concise reviews of Briton Allan Fish, is virtually a reference source for the great movies of the past. John Greco's TWENTY FOUR FRAMES is very strong on the movies of the 50s and 60s, especially those with a noirish slant. Alistair Rupert does a great job of covering the 40s, both obscure and better-known works, in his CLASSIC MOVIES DIGEST. Judy at MOVIE CLASSICS focuses on the rarities of the 30s, especially the earlier part of the decade. C. K. Dexter Haven's HOLLYWOOD DREAMLAND shows a real classic movie fan's enthusiasm for the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Although Richard Hourula covers all the decades at RIKU WRITES, he returns time and again to films and subjects from the 30s and 40s, always eager to add more about Fred and Ginger, Bogey and Cagney, John Ford and William Wellman. A newer site I enjoy is CLASSIC FILMBOY'S MOVIE PARADISE, which has lately been covering topics revolving around the 40s. Several other sites concentrate exclusively on film noir of the late 40s and early 50s, a genre that is a particular favorite of mine. Dave at GOODFELLA'S MOVIE BLOG recently launched an ambitious countdown of his 100 best films noirs. The existence of these and other classic film sites makes me wonder how relevant THE MOVIE PROJECTOR is.

Still, I'll soldier on awhile longer, hoping I can find enough movies that I feel strongly enough about and that haven't already been thoroughly exhausted as blog fodder to provide me with something to write about. Even then, I anticipate that I will invariably write about films other classic film bloggers have already written on. Posting on a film someone else has already covered is bound to happen now and again, and when it does, I apologize in advance for the overlap and will try not to duplicate the efforts of others but to find something original to say, or at the least a different approach. In the meantime, I'd like to thank everyone who regularly visits THE MOVIE PROJECTOR and especially those who have taken time to leave comments and encourage me in my efforts. I'd also like to thank all those who have provided links to THE MOVIE PROJECTOR at their own sites.

THE MOVIE PROJECTOR adopts a new mascot. Farewell, Buster. Welcome, Cary.

5 comments:

Kim said...

I am really glad you are coming back. I think your posts will be interesting to read even if you don't post long essays every week. However if there is something you want to say that is a little longer than a regular review please do so. Basically don't try to keep the blog limited to one format. Post whatever you want, whenever you want. I will be interested in reading it and I am sure I am not alone.

hal0000 said...

Yeah, I know what you're saying. It's almost impossible to come up with original essays on a weekly basis.

"I sometimes get the impression I'm preaching to the converted."

Precisely my sentiments. It's something you see in the majority of criticism these days and I'm fond of calling it "bandwagon" criticism. This sort of thing doesn't really get us anywhere, so it's pointless to read Roger Ebert, James Berardinelli, A.O. Scott or the dreadful Peter Travers if they all parrot more or less the same opinion.

I know critics aren't unanimous, but it does feel like the critic is losing its individuality. Things like rottentomatoes.com don't help either. Recently, I've started reading Armond White because he's one of the few interesting voices left. While I may not agree with what he's saying, I think he's doing an excellent job of exercising Kael's belief that movies are rarely great art and we must therefore learn to appreciate great trash.

I think my own experience with blogging is that my style changes. I used to focus on how a movie tells its story, then I switched to how a shot gives meaning, then to a mixture of narrative and shot analysis, and now? I seem to be focusing on feminist film theory. It's pretty fascinating thinking of movies more as cultural artifacts than some lone "auteur's" genius. We are not bound to auteur theory alone.

I think Pauline Kael said something to the effect: "The critic's role is not to pick a work apart to show he knows how it's put together, but to convey what's new and beautiful in the work." I'm pretty sure you could come up with novel readings for the otherwise canonical movies you've mentioned. The problem is, bandwagon criticism pigeonholes and constricts fresh insights. But the readings can still be found if we divorce ourselves from the way we traditionally approach movies. I've recently come to love The Birds for instance, because I'm seeing a self-reflexive subtext in it that the majority hasn't accepted... yet.

I wish I could post more frequently too, but I can't. Other things in life, but also the desire to post something worthwhile (not this one-paragraph-of-plot-synopsis-a-day nonsense). But eh. If I only post once a month, or every other month, I'll live.\

John said...

R.D.

It is great to hear you are coming back. I certainly understand your concerns “preaching to the converted” still what I find most interesting reading blogs is the introduction to so many films I would not have thought to watch or even aware of in some cases. It was The Movie Projector that enlightened me to seek out some films, and filmmakers I was previously not familiar with, Jacque Tati for one. Also, I am constantly on the lookout for a copy of Bergman’s “Shame” since reading your review, at a library or some other source.

The Movie Projector is a valuable source and I would hate to lose it. So be it a weekly posting or less, a long review or short, I for one hope you find the time and the inspiration to continue.

Judy said...

RD, looking forward to your return, and I will be interested to read your reviews whether long or short. I know that many others will too.As John said, your blog has also introduced me to films I might not have seen otherwise - and helped me to look again and think some more about some of those I had seen! So I am glad you are continuing, in whatever form, and know I will be learning more from you.

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