What makes someone want to write about movies? For me, it was chemistry. Nothing excited me more as a kid than watching movies, even when I was living in a small town with just one theater and then a suburb with two or three. Even catching commercial-ridden classics on TV was thrilling, especially if a channel had one of those shows that played the same great movie (say, "Yankee Doodle Dandy," left) multiple times a week. As I grew older, and connected with other movie-lovers, sharing news of a disreputable milestone like Don Siegel's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" appearing on a late-night creature feature -- or discovering where in the hinterlands studios had dumped films they didn't believe in, like Sam Peckinpah's "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" -- became part of an adventure of discovery. Janus Films has called its catalogue of films by the breakout international masters "Essential Art House." But if you were in high school or college when "La Strada" and "Wild Strawberries" were making the art house rounds, Fellini and Bergman weren't merely essential: their movies made for catalytic date nights.
Can filmgoers still get that tingle of exploration in an era when seeking out films seems as simple as stroking a few keys?
This blog is my way of finding out. The ubiquity of movies in megaplexes and on cable channels, through snail-mail services and the Internet, has resulted in an alternately merry and menacing chaos. Now more than ever I find myself scanning theatrical release lists and festival schedules and my monthly TCM calendar; now more than ever, I am thankful when friends and readers can steer me to new favorites. I hope this blog can be a place where filmgoers share their passion and their outrage.
As a film writer in Baltimore, I'm lucky to have a robust local festival, the Maryland Film Festival, and a venturesome art five-plex, the Charles, that still sponsors revivals. (Let's hope the Senator comes back to full force, too.) I'll be blogging on what goes on there, but also on what goes on everywhere: the big-studio extravaganzas and the small gems like "Goodbye Solo," and the movies that somehow get underrated just because they are so exquisitely literate and theatrical, like "The Last Station." And though I won't wade through trivia just to get a few more hits, you may also find some comments on the career moves and policy changes of movie talents and industry movers and shakers -- if there still can be movers and shakers in an industry that seems made of jello. What I hope most of all is that it stokes enthusiasm and provokes engagement from my readers. My movie career started when I cofounded my high school cinema club. When I get reel, I hope moviegoing readers feel they have to join in.