Lost in the Movies: ...enin rebmun, enin rebmuN

...enin rebmun, enin rebmuN

And the record rotates full circle: when 2009 was fresh, I posted "Number Nine, Number Nine" on The Dancing Image in response to a meme (remember those?) about nine New Years resolutions. Now I'm ready to take a deep gulp and a look back, to see where I succeeded and where I fell short.

But first, a mea culpa: early this week I "promised" to finally review many of the films I'd been seeing, mentioning, but begging off writing about. Now, a few days later, I've punted a couple times, reviving some old unread pieces, and have to face the fact that now's not the time to tackle a bevy of fresh reviews on The Sun's Not Yellow. For a few reasons: my plate is already full with upcoming Examiner pieces (which will continue to be linked here as well as, in some cases, on Sam Juliano's blog Wonders in the Dark); the films are no longer so fresh in memory (though I still might tackle them anyway in the new year); decreasing traffic (due in part, no doubt, to the looming holidays and also, probably, my own lax posting of fresh non-linkage content); and because I've been reneging on or delaying announced projects all year, so why break the habit now? Which brings me to my "tenth" resolution, one shrouded in an air of finality while soaked with a sense of supreme paradox.

My last resolution? No more resolutions! At least no more public ones. (I believe the contradiction inherent in that statement may have just breached a hole in the space-time continuum, but there you have it.) I'll endeavor to announce upcoming pieces only when they are locked in as part of an ongoing series (which, with the exception of my aborted Auteurs - I'm usually pretty good at keeping up), or when they are already written and hence neither fatigue nor obstruction can stop their onward march. Believe it or not, I mentally was going to segue from this firm statement into a preview of unwritten pieces on The Dancing Image but lest that breach turn into a yawning black hole which sucks all of us up with one last cry of "Great Scott!", I metaphorically bite my tongue.

Well, then, without further ado (not to say as much of shame), the "Nine":

1. Keep blogging.
Well, this I did - intermittently, in increasingly scattered fashion (something this blog has attempted to rectify, even while perhaps exacerbating it). But at year's end I can safely say I carried the torch onwards for twelve months. It may have flickered dimly at some points - just look at my post counts on Dancing Image over the summer and early fall compared to last year - but it never went out, and is burning pretty strongly right now.

2. Look forward.
Sort of. I put up at least one "state of cinema" musing, and addressed the concerns of the medium's future in scattered asides and subtexts elsewhere, but my eye was still too focused on catching up with the past (especially in light of an ongoing canonical undertaking) to really focus on the future.

3. See more movies from the 21st century.
Yes, especially in recent months, and especially with the pursuit-in-earnest of my "Best of the 21st Century?" series. Still have a lot of catching-up to do, however.

4. Read more novels.
Oops. I had a spurt of fiction-reading in spring, mostly to finish books I'd left off in previous years, and then lost myself in the massive David Copperfield late in the summer (it's a pleasant read, but not really a gripping one, especially compared to my favorite Dickens, Great Expectations - at any rate, I've let myself be led astray numerous times but have now tackled it with renewed gusto). I read a whole lot of nonfiction early in the year, and a whole lot of nothing in recent months, which have admittedly been consumed by movie-watching and, when on the subway, music-listening (though lately the text-on-the-T habit has resumed). Better luck next year. I always get such satisfaction out of sinking into a good novel, but am so frequently distracted by the more ephemeral enjoyment of factual prose...

5. See more classics on the big screen.
Compared to last year, sure, but still holds no candle to the New York years. Different cities are partly to blame, but to be fair Boston has plenty of great retro screenings every week. Time has been one issue, economics another (though the free "press pass" privileges have been one of the few tangible perks of my online ramblings...) That said, this summer, there was a great series in my hometown, which spurred my first run of Examiner pieces, all of which were quite popular on Wonders in the Dark.

6. Investigate more off-the-beaten path movies.
No, not really. There's too many classics I've yet to see, and that's been made my priority, which I don't regret. Sure, it would be nice to "discover" more films on my own, but that can wait a few years.

7. Evangelize.
Nope - at least not to the outside world, which is what this resolution/commandment was meant to imply. My friends and family remain largely in blissful ignorance of my cinematic pursuits, but perhaps that's for the better, at least for now...

8. See at least one modern masterpiece on its initial run - preferably an unhyped one that sneaks up on us.
Welll...I saw so few new releases in theaters this year that this would appear to be a no-brainer no. But Antichrist - while not necessarily a modern masterpiece - was certainly a modern something. And in its opening minutes I was astonished - viscerally, intellectually, aesthetically - in a way I have not been by most recent films. It certainly had the element of greatness in it (along with some flaws), whether in enough quantities to merit the term "masterpiece" only time will tell. Synecdoche, NY was also another somewhat messy but rewarding experience which left me in a bit of a glow as I departed the cinema. In both cases, the experience was not shared with a moviegoing mass. In fact, with Antichrist, after purchasing my ticket from a teller who informed she would never be seeing this movie (after I asked her if I should go in after missing the first five minutes - though, luckily, the previews turned out to still be running), I entered an empty theater and sat alone in the dark for two hours while von Trier unleashed his demons on my fragile mind. Which might have been better, come to think of it, than having some other random person sitting silently on the other side of the small room... At any rate, Antichrist was not "unhyped" (though I read nothing about it before seeing, and later writing about, it). So it can't quite have been said to "sneak up on me"...still, it comes close to fitting the first half of my above prescription.

9. Make a movie.
Big, resounding no. I could blame conditions, which were not ideal, but truthfully I believe - particularly in this day and age - if one wants to make a feature, one can, even if on a shoestring if necessary. I made a conscious decision not to venture forth into this undertaking, not yet - and to focus my energy on writing about movies rather than making them for now. Which means that, sadly, I have been tripped up by the Orson Welles must-make-first-feature-by-25 gauntlet. Luckily, the Truffaut and Godard hurdles remain safely on the horizon - and if worse comes to worse, I can always take comfort in the example of Jean Cocteau (41) or Vittorio De Sica (39) among others, though both had accomplished quite a bit more than blogging by 30...

So there they are, by my reckoning three successfully achieved resolutions, two partially achieved resolutions, and four out-and-out failures. As for the success of my one, single (anti-?)resolution for 2010, we'll wait and see how that's faring a year from now.

If you too participated in this exercise (initiated by Piper of Lazy Eye Theatre), please feel free to link up your own updates below...

This post was originally published on The Sun's Not Yellow.


just another film buff said...

haha. Resolutions? never.

MovieMan0283 said...

That's the idea... ;)

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

This is nice. Copperfield is exceptionally, even for Dickens. I was not a fan of Antichrist, but it was a modern something indeed.

MovieMan0283 said...

Andrew, I just finished Copperfield yesterday. I liked it, enjoyed my read, but there's a reason it fell by the wayside so long - I did not find it as gripping as Great Expectations which is not only my favorite Dickens (of the very little I've read anyway) but possibly my favorite novel full-stop as Allan Fish likes to say. DC was good but also very middle-class and settled in a way - most of the adventures seem to happen "offscreen" (like Pegotty's pursuit of Emily or Steerforth's seduction of same, or much of the Uriah Heep storyline) and there isn't the same turbulent, unsettled, yearning quality I found so enticing in Expectations. What did you think of that one?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Whoa. This response is waaaaaay late. Great Expectations is lovely. It is probably his best. Ms. Havishams scared me sh**less as a child. But I was a stupid child. I'd heard a rumour they were planning to adapt it [again], which could be cool. Who'd you cast?

MovieMan0283 said...

That's a tough one - I'd have to think it over, but the ideal cast would probably span several eras in film (I thought Lean's GE was superb in evoking the Dickens mood but Valerie Hobson was a poor choice for Estella, Pip's passion for whom is the linchpin of the novel. I actually though the Cuaron update in '98, though limited in many ways, did a better job capturing the erotic draw of Estella with Paltrow).

By the way, let me know if you have any posts you want highlighted on that round-up I've been speaking of - hopefully it will go up in a few days.

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