One Year In Review

Yay, I’ve been keeping this journal for one year!

I guess when I first started, I just wanted to write something, anything, to get into the habit of writing about movies, so April entries like The Palm Beach Story and Inside Man aren’t very helpful. Started getting better soon after with L’Age d’or and Moolaade, but I still write up a lot of short entries that I don’t think will be very useful in the long run.

Still, I believe this thing is serving its purpose. Making me think again about a movie a few hours to weeks after watching it is probably helpful to long-term memory, even if I’m not writing anything amazing. And if there’s something I was unclear on while watching a video, I can pick it up when going through the movie later to get screenshots. I don’t watch movies with the journal in mind, trying to think what to say about it before it’s even over, so it’s not distracting in a bad way, but I do sometimes try to remember lines or scenes so I can get a good quote or screenshot later. That can only be helpful – I want to be able to remember what I’ve watched. I mean, what’s the use of seeing every Fritz Lang movie if two years later I can only remember a third of ’em? Might as well have just watched a third of the Fritz Lang movies and not wasted my time on the others. And for the most part, I’ve stopped watching movies that I can’t pay attention to… playing “They Live By Night” on the TV while I’m facing away from it, missing most of the picture, just so I can say I’ve “seen” a Nick Ray movie. No point in that. So half the reason for this journal was to improve my memory of what I’ve watched, and hopefully it’s mission accomplished on that goal.

If the other half was to improve my writing by making myself practice writing (about movies) every day, that mission’s nowhere near accomplished. I’m not proud of any of these entries as writing samples… wouldn’t be able to argue my case as a film critic. I might’ve forced myself to give the proper amount of time and energy to the movies, but I’m not giving much time/energy to the writing itself, just tossing out thoughts as fast as they come when I get a free minute in the day, not forcing myself to really analyze the film or arrange my thoughts into something coherent or interesting. Haven’t been recommending anybody read this journal because I know if I wasn’t the one writing it, I wouldn’t want to read it either.

On the other hand, I’ve got 250 entries here. If I consider myself more of a cinephile than a writer on cinema, then it only makes sense that I’m devoting more time to watching the films than to reviewing them. I mean, this guy devotes tons of time and care to his entries, but he only has 65 entries in two and a half years. I’d rather stick with my method. 250 entries for some 340 movies. So on my running list of all the movies I’ve seen, I have notes on about 10% of them. Not bad!

Have I learned anything? How to very slightly hack style sheets in WordPress, I guess. Not really. Haven’t changed my perceptions on film or writing or anything.

At the start of 2006 I made myself a list of 100 titles I simply had to see that year. Took it chronologically, for the most part, and only made it 30-some titles in (through the 1950’s). Didn’t think of it as something that needed to be accomplished anyway, just as a guideline. Well this year I’ve made it definitely impossible with a list of 250+ titles for myself (including all the available Resnais, Marker & Rivette titles). Nice to set goals, anyway… I referred to the list only yesterday when deciding to rent these two Iraq documentaries.

I guess the biggest attitude change lately came while making my lists of favorite films from 2006 this January. I read other people’s lists and came across so many movies that I’d sort of meant to see in ’06 but had decided against, thinking they probably wouldn’t be great (rather than seeing anything that looks good, hoping it WOULD be great). Don’t know where that attitude came from, but it led me to miss what are belatedly some of my favorite movies of last year, seen this year on video. So I’m trying (and so far succeeding) to get out to the theaters more these days, attempting to stay current and live in-the-now instead of solely catching up on stuff from the 30’s and 50’s.

Changes to the journal: added the category listings on the right-hand side to collect writings on the same director or series, changed the layout a little to accomodate 600-pixel-wide images instead of limiting to 500.

Standout entries so far: none, really. I mean, Out 1 was long and exhaustive and some entries had nice screenshots and occasionally I’d play a commentary track and copy some bits from there, and I enjoyed watching the Phantasm series again and bitching about The Leopard, but I’m not ready to start a best-of-the-journal collection here.

– stay current with new releases
– keep a notepad near the TV to write down cool quotes or ideas during the film
– see about 6-8 more Bunuel movies, make my way through Resnais and Marker.
– try harder to come up with something meaningful to say here
– read more books (Deleuze, other theory stuff)
– learn a little French
– keep writin’
– watch more movies!

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