Friday, July 23, 2010

Episode IV: A New Hope (for Cinema Styles)

I've been at this blogging thing for years now (a little over three) but in the last year I've gone up and down the mood gauge as unemployment has taken my focus away from the movies. Now, this Monday, I start a new job (finally!) and, going into my fourth year here at Cinema Styles, I expect more changes to occur. For one, I won't be on during the day anymore, except on a day off of course, but I don't think that's very much a concern at this point. These days more of us are logging on at night and doing brief check-ins on social networks like Facebook during the day, something I can quickly do on a lunch break. But there are other changes too, changes in how I view movies.

In the last two years my wife and I have become huge fans of the AFI Silver here in Silver Spring and I've gotten to experience so much classic Hollywood and world cinema on the big screen that I don't know how I ever survived without it. It's to the point where I'll make sure a film I haven't seen before, but is playing on, say, TCM, isn't going to be playing at the AFI first. If it is I don't want to blow the first time I ever see it by seeing it on television. But it's more than that.

When I started Cinema Styles it was decidedly a classic Hollywood film blog. That was its primary focus and I tried to keep everything to 1979 and before. Gradually I mentioned some newer films and liked the idea of being a part of the conversation on current cinema. Cinema Styles doesn't have a lot of reviews but now, it seems, those that are here have as much chance as being current (Avatar, Shutter Island) as being classic (Foreign Affair, Easy Living) and that's fine by me. However, the one area I haven't really moved into is documentaries, even though they have quickly become my favorite form of movie to watch (I watch at least two or so a week, sometimes not a narrative film at all). The reason is because I take them all personally (I watch primarily political docs) and don't want to get into a fight over politics on my blog, I really don't. It seems easier to review a narrative film based on its technique without necessarily arguing about the philosophical content of its message. With a documentary, often, the message is the thing. I occasionally review a historical documentary, like the ones I have reviewed on nuclear tests and the Cold War, but that's different. History is more easily argued in a civilized manner because of the benefit of hindsight and a body of established facts from which to work. That being the case, I don't think Cinema Styles will be moving into the direction of documentary reviewing any time soon.

In fact, I don't know what direction it will be moving in, just that it's exciting to be getting back to work and Cinema Styles will have to adapt to a new schedule, that's all. The rants will still be here, In the Land Before CGI will still be here, Opening Credits I Love and even other much longer neglected features, like The Wanderers, will still be here and pop up from time to time. And Unexplained Cinema and The Invisible Edge will still be here too, although I've neglected The Edge for almost two weeks now. And I'll still be here, just at night more than during the day. Wish me luck!

18 comments:

Ed Howard said...

Congratulations on the new job, Greg, I'm really happy that things have picked up for you! And I'm happy, of course, that Cinema Styles will continue in whatever form interests you. Good luck!

Jason Bellamy said...

Good luck, indeed. Congrats on the new job! That must make the air smell fresh, even in all this heat.

One of the biggest negatives of my move from D.C. proper to Arlington a few years back is that it took me farther away from the AFI Silver. I used to still make a trip out there at least once a month, making a double-feature of it, sometimes combining an AFI with a new release at the nearby Majestic. Then the Metro crash happened and going out that way on the red line wasn't attractive, and I haven't been out there since.

But, as coincidence would have it, just this morning I looked on the site and noticed some Chaplin films coming in the next two months. It's a blind spot for me (only seen one of his films all the way through, though I've seen significant parts of many). So maybe that'll get me back out there.

Anyway, again, best of luck.

Greg said...

Thanks, Ed! I appreciate the good thoughts.

Greg said...

Thanks, Jason.

The red line has had so many problems in the last three years, it's downright odd. I don't even like using it anymore and even though I hate the mid-section, because it's always the most crowded, that's where I go now to avoid the head-on collision area of the front and the hit from behind in the back.

I think the Majestic is probably the best multi-plex I've seen in a while but I can still only see matinees there, where I know there won't be a big audience to annoy me.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Congrats on the new gig, Greg -- I'm glad it won't take you away too much from the blogs...after all, you've got that Film Comment honor to maintain (felicitations on that, too).

My sister Debbie and her better half lived in Silver Spring for a period of time while he was interning at the NIMH, and though I dropped in on them a time or two in the past I never got to make a pilgrimage to the Silver. I'm kind of bummed about that, but stuff happens.

Greg said...

Ivan, thank you for the felicitations on the Film Comment mention, for both here and Unexplained Cinema. I feel pretty lucky about that.

And you definitely missed something by not seeing a movie at the AFI but you've got to make sure the movie you're seeing is on the main screen. Nothing against the other two small screens they have on the side but the main screen, where all the premieres are and the big classic movies show, is just awesome! Great seating, great screen and great audiences.

Fred said...

Greg, glad to hear you are starting a new job on Monday. All the best.

I didn't know you live in Silver Spring. I have some second cousins who live there and we used to visit them in DC every few summers as a kid. And my college roommate is from Bethesda, so I feel a little connection to that area. It's funny b/c there are some great cinemas in NYC, but I can't remember the last time I've trecked in from the Island to catch a screening. I remember 3 years ago going to meet a new client in Soho and being tempted to skip lunch and take in a screening of Last Year at Marienbad. But with so many choices on DVD, not to mention the pressures of job and family, I find movie going a thing of my past, which is a shame.

Greg said...

Thanks for the good cheer, Fred. And I know it's hard, being a family man myself, but seeing classic movies on the big screen really does feel special. New movies, yeah, I suppose they look good up there but a classic film with either 3-strip technicolor or the glorious shadows of black and white looks great on the big screen. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Ken Lowery said...

Congrats, Greg! I know how you feel; I lost my job earlier this year and it really de-centered my life with alarming speed and depth. I'm into freelance work now and slowly finding some structure again, but boy. How disorienting. Glad to hear you're back on track.

Greg said...

Thanks, Ken! And let me tell you, if you were off-center, it didn't show. You're the most productive online person in the history of online everness that I've ever known. Ever. I mean, you're the first person that I've known personally online that's getting published from being online. You're an inspiration. Seriously.

Christopher said...

enjoy your job..your family.throw us a bone here now and then(your thoughts on a film long or short),we'll do the rest.
I've in the last few years ,taken to Documentaries myself(I hunger for depth).We have 2 Theatres here to supply them,The Magnolia and the Angelika..some of my faves were..The Kid Stays in The Picture,Dogtown and Z-boys and New York Doll..

bill r. said...

You should start a new feature called "What's Bill Up To?". I think your readers would really enjoy it.

I'm really glad your getting back on track, Greg, and look forward to reading what you have in store. I'm actually pretty cool with my new on-line habits (for the most part), and I hope you are, too (with your habits, I mean, not mine).

Have a good day tomorrow!

Greg said...

Christopher, thanks for the support. I love watching docs so much now but, unbelievably, I never saw The Kid Stays in the Picture because until now, I forgot about it. In the queue at the top now. Robert Evans and his life of wretched excess is a must-see! Can't believe I forgot.

Greg said...

Bill, I think my readers absolutely love knowing what you're up to! I'll keep them informed.

I'm okay with all our online schedules now too. It's a lot easier in many ways, isn't it? There's no longer this manic need to be everywhere online all the time. It's more relaxed now and feels more confident. And it's almost 11 and this is the first I've been online all day because it's not a desk job so I have NO ACCESS at all while at work and then have only a few precious hours at night to spend with Laura so, yeah, Cinema Styles posts will be written quite late from now on. Maybe the "drunk/dead-tired" writing will spruce them up a bit. At the very least, it should be guaranteed that I have many more unsupported nonsensical opinions! Yay!

Mythical Monkey said...

Congrats on the new job and best of luck.

My wife and I are also big fans of the AFI Silver. It's a straight shot down 29 for us. We've seen a lot of movies there, but oddly enough, the one that was the biggest surprise on the big screen was The Quiet Man which we had seen many times. Turns out, though, that since the whole movie is basically medium and long shots, the big screen allowed us to see subtleties on the actors' faces we'd never noticed before. It was like seeing a different movie.

Greg said...

Isn't it amazing how that works? I've often touted how good the quality of large widescreen televisions are these days but there is still no substitute for the big screen for a well-shot classic film. I've seen several movies at the AFI that gave me the same feeling you had, where I felt like I was seeing a new movie.

And thank you for the well-wishes, much appreciated.

tlrhb said...

I'm VERY glad to hear about the new job, Greg. Congrats!

Greg said...

Thanks, Larry, it's great to be working again.