Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Stockpile Syndrome: Pursuing Goals at 24fps

Bear witness to my shameful admission: I have a serious problem with stockpiling. Movies, music, books...my house is a virtual Barnes and Noble for the Missus and I. Always afraid a moment will come when I won't have something to do, I frantically collect everything I have even the slightest interest in, fearful that if I don't get it now, it will dissipate into the ether forever, and my soul will be the poorer for it.

DVDs, with their succulent cover art and ever-expanding set of additional features are the biggest bullies in the bunch, which is particularly odd because movies have the least excuse for stockpiling. It's a law of the physical universe to be no further than 3.2 miles from the nearest Blockbuster Video, I've been a member of Netflix for almost eight years, and films are readily available in the local branch of the library (legally) and online (somewhat less legally). And yet my stack of unwatched DVDs climbs on, reaching new heights of intimidation and shame while ever-beckoning my son to come a little closer to its teetering verticality (huh?) so that it may crush him under its massive weight.

I tried watching a movie a night to whittle down the numbers, but every Tuesday brings new reasons to feed the beast. Every review or recommendation must be pursued so that I can comment on it before the novelty wears off. Every film book offers a new director, a new film to be devoured, digested, and ultimately excreted in conversation or commetary online. Recently I've taken to throwing out the plastic cases and storing most of my DVDs in leather binders, and even that's starting to take up too much space, as well as making the physical pile of discs, well, angry...

But I can't help it. It's a vicious circle I willingly subject myself to. If there is a perfect adjective to describe my fixation it's "adore." I adore movies. The more I see, the more I want to see. And it's not enough to see and walk away - I want to understand, to know why certain scenes move me the way they do, what a particular lighting choice or a framing device means in both the scope of the story and the larger themes at work. When I read something by people like (but not limited to) Roger Ebert, Jim Emerson, Pauline Kael, Harry, Moriarty and the cads over at Ain't It Cool, Keith Uhlich, Matt Zoller Seitz and the incredible group of writers over at The House Next Door or Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, the intelligence and style is tremendous but overshadowed by their abundant and obvious love for movies of all kinds - the obscure independent foreign feature to the latest summer blockbuster. It's this giddy joy and exuberance that thrills me more than anything else, because I know it's a feeling shared by all of us who, whether under cover of darkness or loud and proud wear the hat of the movie lover, the geek, the (dare I say) cineaste.

I harbor no illusions concerning my own writing about movies. Like everything I've written on the web it's a striving to express, as cogently and accurately as possible, my thoughts and feelings on the subject at hand. After a couple years I'm still finding my voice, taking tentative steps toward fresh perspectives and ideas, and slowly piecing together an identity that complements what I want to say. A lot of the reviews on this site are okay, a very few are, in my mind, more than good. There's more than a couple that are complete shit. You and I will in all liklihood disagree on which are which. And that's totally fine.

So I'm going to try and keep the Beast at a reasonable size by watching, and writing, whenever I can. And whether it's a classic from Criterion, a low-budget horror flick, or the latest hit at your local theater I'll endeavor to bring something worthy of the film and of myself to each review or article. I'm pretty notorious for throwing posts up with little to no editing, only to go back a day or two later to refine and correct, and I guarantee that'll be the case here. There's a great article by Evan Derrick over at Movie Zeal entitled "10 Ways to Become a Better Film Critic" and the ideas he illustrates are things I'm trying to incorporate more into my own writing.

But none of that really matters if this all exists in a vacuum. So any feedback, agreements or disagreements, ideas, questions, anything is greatly appreciated. In the meantime I'm making a bigger effort to be a presence at some of the better known sites, and am looking forward to continuing to be inspired by movies and the people who write about them.

And if the preceding paragraph wasn't enough if a Hollywood Ending for you, may I present THE SEARCHERS.

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