Friday, December 31, 2010

Cinema Styles Year End Extravaganza!

It's the end of another year and you know what that means for Cinema Styles, right? Yep, pretty much, nothing. No top ten list (I never see enough new movies to make a top ten list comprehensive enough), no recap of the movie year, no cinematic resolutions for the next. Pretty much just a big ole helpin' of nuttin'! And every year I secretly tell myself (although now the secret will be out), "Next year, I'm going to see lots of new movies and do all the year end stuff all those other movie writers and critics do." And then? Yep, you guessed it! Nothing.

So it's time I stopped fooling myself. I'm not going to see a bunch of new movies this year because I tend to want to see the older ones first. Oh, don't get me wrong, I see plenty of new movies, I just don't see them when they come out. After about, say, three years have passed, I've pretty much seen all the big or important or highly praised movies of any given year. I just don't see them soon enough to write about them in the here and now. When they kind of take over the landscape, like an Avatar or Inglourious Basterds, I usually rush out to see them to take part in the conversation but, for the most part, I much prefer my steady diet of classic and foreign films taken in at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Maryland.

One thing that has happened in the last month has been my long-awaited return to regular posting (long-awaited by me, that is; I doubt anyone else was waiting.). After being laid off of work for a year I got a job at an art supply store that turned out to be exhausting and demoralizing and slightly less income than the unemployment was paying but it was a job and I needed to be employed again so I took it. It didn't matter if it paid a little less than unemployment because I knew as long as I worked hard I'd have a steady paycheck and not be left to the whims of congressional political ping-pong.

The real problem was that I had no computer access at work and when I got home I was too tired to write. Before that I was too depressed and anxious being unemployed to do anything either. The constant spectre of the money supply drying up with a house and four kids turned knots in my stomach almost daily. Then, finally, something positive happened. I got a call from the National Archives, with whom I had previously interviewed for another position I didn't get. They had an opening that fit my experience perfectly, asked for an interview the next day and the day after that called me and told me I was hired. The person I was replacing was leaving in less than two weeks so I had to train on my days off from my other job. True, I could have just vacated the art supply store job but that's simply not who I am. I gave them the proper two weeks notice and trained at the National Archives in my off-time. When I took over full time, the person I was replacing was gone and I had all of four days training under my belt. Through the autumn I see-sawed between happy and incredibly anxious. Happy that I had the job, and a very good one at that, anxious that I didn't know what the hell I was doing for a good two months. So, again, my posts slowed.

Finally, sometime around Thanksgiving I got my footing and ever since, posting has been back to normal around here. This month alone saw almost as many posts as I did for the entire summer (16 for June, July and August combined, 15 for December) and it feels good to be back on track after a year and a half of wandering aimlessly trying to figure out what I was doing.

Still, I've got a lot to do at work and a lot I want to do at home so I have to evaluate how much I can do online and when. Right now I'm running Cinema Styles and Unexplained Cinema while posting for the culture blog If Charlie Parker was a Gunslinger , conversing with a group of horror dads over at TCM and writing music reviews for Mondo Cult Magazine. I've put Unexplained Cinema on hold for now, awaiting inspiration for another sea change to occur. I got quite a boost earlier in the year when The Lincoln Center and its magazine, Film Comment, listed Unexplained Cinema as among the top film sites on the internet and mentioned Cinema Styles at the top of the piece as well. But I can't keep doing something if I'm not inspired by it and right now it's just not happening. I'll figure out something there, eventually.

Posting for Charlie Parker is always fun but something I don't have as much time for anymore. I used to browse photo archives every day but in the last year that's fallen by the wayside so my posting there has suffered as well. I don't know when, or if, I'll have the same amount of time again to devote to browsing photo archives endlessly so I'm probably safe just doing a pic or two a day there. Fortunately, it's a group effort led by the hardest working man online, Tom Sutpen, so I don't ever feel pressured to do more than comes naturally.

When Richard Harland Smith of the Movie Morlocks at TCM asked me to take part in a series of conversations about horror movies among fathers raising their kids on that very genre, I was a little reluctant at first, thinking this might tip the scales for doing too much online. My fears were unfounded as RHS has made it as malleable as possible, bending and contorting discussion times to fit everyone's schedule and I look forward to the next installment.

Mondo Cult Magazine is a breeze because Paul Gaita, one of the editors, sends out e-mails asking who wants to review what, giving a choice of CDs received by the studios pushing them and then sends them to whoever wants to review them. As a result, I never have to review anything for them I don't want to which is pretty damn convenient. My only problem is deadlines of which I'm notoriously late at meeting.

That leaves Cinema Styles and like I said up top, it's back to regular posting here. About a year ago I whittled all the special features here down to Opening Credits I Love, In the Land Before CGI and, now, The Short List, a collection of favorite supporting performances. Paring everything down has made the last year of anxiety much easier to manage and I've also decided to start reviewing music here as well, although unlike my reviews for Mondo Cult, they will be from my own collection. The first one was Oscar Peterson's Motions and Emotions and I look forward to doing many more.

And that's that. Thanks to everyone for sticking around through the lean months and a Happy New Year to all! See you in the 2011!