Thursday, June 25, 2009

Back to the Drawing Board

Way back in February I wrote a post called "Filling in the Blind Spots" that you can read it in its entirety here, but the following excerpt pretty much tells the story:

I mentioned in my first post that I had two over-arching goals:

  1. Improve my overall writing with regards to film criticism
  2. Expand the breadth and scope of the films I see... and try my damnedest to erase the enormous stockpile of DVDs I have lying around the house.

Embedded in the second item is catching up on those movies that seem to be required viewing for anyone who wants to claim to be a "cinephile" or even a "film buff" in like company. The problem is I've always been pretty resistant to people pushing stuff on me, especially when it comes with the tag of:

"You're not a real ________ unless you've seen ________."

(fill in your preferred term/film)

Time to "Man up" and admit it: There's a gaping hole in my film vocabulary that can't be completely explained away by things like scarcity or disinterest. I've been plugging those holes a few at a time, usually late at night so as to not cause a stir in the hen house that is my circle of friends/acquaintances I can discuss movies with. But in the interest of full disclosure I think I'll turn my education process into a monthly (to start) feature here at Celluloid Moon. Every month I'll take one movie and go into a little more detail than the general reviews that are posted, and talk about the film's impact both on the world of cinema and me personally.

And of course I left it at that.

Oh, I watched a lot of film. Even had a small schedule of which films I wanted to hit, beginning with RAGING BULL, a particular sore spot considering how much I revere Martin Scorsese as both a director and a film historian. Watched it, let a couple of days pass, and forgot about it.

In April I picked up the Criterion edition of Spike Lee's DO THE RIGHT THING, meaning for that to be the second in the series. Still haven't watched it.

Things were looking pretty grim. I was watching movies, sure, but the desire to really watch them, pick them apart and see what makes them tick couldn't have been further away. Maybe it didn't help that most of what I was watching was on a similar level to TERMINATOR SALVATION, but this wasn't something I could lay at the feet of Christian Bale.

A few weeks ago, however, a biography of 70s film icon Hal Ashby came out. Ashby was a director I knew nothing about. I had heard his name before, and years ago I had seen THE LAST DETAIL during a Jack Nicholson marathon, but his filmography and influence as a whole had escaped me. It didn't escape the people I read, though: everywhere there was talk about the incredible run of films he had in the 70s, topped only by his downfall and early death in the 80s. The more I got to reading, the more surprised I was that I was so unfamiliar with any of his films.

So, to kick things off again, I'm starting with a look at some of his films, beginning with the cult classic HAROLD AND MAUDE, moving to BOUND FOR GLORY and finally settling on a film I have been meaning to see for years, BEING THERE.

When that's done I'll circle around back to RAGING BULL and finally get to DO THE RIGHT THING. In the meantime, to keep my chops up I'm going back to writing short, quickie reviews for everything I watch in between. Don't know if I'll post everything over at Celluloid Moon and refer to it here or go hog wild and post it everywhere, but hopefully this time the 2009 movie goal will stick.

As they pop up feel free to leave your thoughts, agreements, disagreements, or suggestions for films I can see to "shore up the cracks" so to speak.

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