Saturday, 19 November 2011

Mission Statement/Coming Soon

Missionary Position

“Restate my assumptions”
Maximillian Cohen, Darren Aronofsky’s PI.

I think I need to make a slight adjustment to my own, and possibly other people’s, expectations about this blog review thing I’ve got going on here. But, just to make it a little more fun (hopefully), this’ll also take the form of a “coming soon” kinda thing for future entries on these pages... as much as it will an apology of sorts.

My faith in film blogging has been shaken a little recently. That is to say, my selection process as to whether I write about a movie has had to undergo a very minimal rethink... here’s what happened...

On Halloween weekend I, and a few friends, went to a special screening at my local “art complex” although, to be fair, complex is a bit overblown for the kind of building it is. Anyway, we were there for a double bill screening of Universal’s 1931 film Frankenstein and their 1935 sequel Bride Of Frankenstein. It was also meant to, not just celebrate the spirit of Halloween, but also to honour the memory of a famous local celebrity of days gone by who used to attend my school, namely... Boris Karloff.

All was well until the first film screened... they’d squashed (or stretched, depending on your point of view) the original 4:3 aspect ratio of the movies into a 1.85:1 aspect ratio to fit the size of their screen (this film was made before the traditional widescreen process as we know it today had been invented, don’t forget). This resulted in a load of fat, bloated actors looking like they were walking around the set of a crazy fun house... ushered in, not by the traditional Universal globe but by a Universal rugby ball... or so it seemed from its shape.

Now I went out to complain about the films being improperly framed but was fobbed off and told, in more or less these words, that they had decided to show them in an aspect ratio distorted to fill their screen... rather than actually show the film properly. Nothing was changed and people were forced to watch this painful mockery or leave.

Now I sent a lengthy letter of complaint to a couple of my local newspapers and was happy to see that they’d both published my angry and, it must be said, sizeable rant against the “cinema-nazis” and their “crimes against filmanity”. Hopefully the people responsible will take heed of some of the points I raised in my letter.

However, this left me with a dilemma because I wanted to review the two films for this blog... but hadn’t actually seen them (this time around) in their best light. Now I’ve seen both films a fair number of times (at least into double figures) and I could probably write a fairly accurate and honest appraisal of both these films in my sleep without even bothering to watch them again I suspect (and please, no comments about the blogs coming out more comprehensible if I stuck to writing them in my sleep :-7 ) but the point was... should I?

I thought about my original intentions with this blog and how I wanted to ensure that every film and TV show I watched would be reviewed here (along with the majority of the books I was reading and a smattering of music reviews when I felt brave enough) but I then thought, rather than write about these films right now... I would save these two for a future year (maybe next year, maybe the one after) and watch them again properly... but this time in context as an occasional running series on all the classic Universal Horror movies of the 30s, 40s and 50s in chronological order of their release... so readers new to the material could get a sense of the progression (or possibly digression and regression, depending on whether you love these movies as much as me or not) and context with the series of films. So that’s what I’m going to do...

So there you have it... my apologies for not reviewing two films I’ve seen recently... but they will go back on the list and be done properly, rather than write a review based on the hideous screening I saw at the end of last month.

Actually, series’ of reviews are something I want to get into more in the coming months/years so, here’s a little preview of some of the things I hope to achieve on the blog sooner or later...

For one thing I want to continue to watch and promote small independent films which have no or little mainstream commercial appeal... they’re definitely not in it for the money... they’re in it purely for the art (for once). So films by writer/directors like Rouzbeh Rashidi and actor/writer/directors like @eJamesDevereaux are something I’m going to continue to promote here on my blog... and hopefully Leilani Holmes will make some more of her excellent movies and I’ll be able to watch and review them here. In fact, I’m hoping to get an interview with Devereaux on my blog sometime in the very near future and also, if she’ll still consent, an interview with gothic horror photographer and jewellery designer Amanda Norman at some point either late this year or, more likely, sometime in the New Year.

I’d also, as I said, like to get into some reviews which review a large body of work over a period of time... so in addition to the aforementioned Universal Horror classics... I’d like to do something like a serialised review for the complete feature films of Akira Kurosawa, another series on Andrei Tarkovsky (including The Killers and The Steamroller & The Violin) and another on a man who I personally believe to be the greatest “living” writer/director, Mr. Hal Hartley .

And don’t worry... I’ve still got the cinematic trash and exploitation covered... gialli, b-movies, blaxploitation, westerns, sci-fi shockers... it’s all in a pile on the floor waiting to be watched. So don’t be surprised if you find... along with all the reviews of what I’m seeing currently at the cinema... and alongside of the Bergmans and the Kieslowski’s... stuff like Invasion Of The Crab Monsters, Galaxina, Blood Sabbath (on the recommendation of Hypnogoria... so blame him) and Four Flies On Grey Velvet (of which I seem to have now acquired four different prints of... not bad for a film which has only had a commercial DVD release in the last few years).

So there you have it... I’m going to keep on blogging with some interesting titles to review to suit, hopefully, lots of different tastes (I’m nothing if not eclectically post-modern)... so as long as you brilliant readers continue to pop by every now and again and check out the odd review or two (and some will no doubt be odder than others)... I’ll keep churning them out for your entertainment and, perhaps once in a while, enlightenment.

Thanks for reading... a new review coming soon!


  1. Oh wow I'm looking forward to all the cool stuff you've got brewing over here! Especially the Hartley reviews, of course, though I worry that you put "living" in quotes. Is he... A ZOMBIE?

    Also I'm sorry you had such a disappointing screening experience for the FRANKENSTEIN films. I too review everything I watch, but if I don't feel I saw it properly- if I was talking with friends too much while viewing or if it was a really bad bootleg or something, I usually won't blog about it. So I understand your decision!

  2. Hi Alex... I meant there are a few other director's I prefer to Hartley... just they're all dead.

    Thanks for stopping by and for the encouraging words.

  3. First of all: Well done to making a stand against those crimes against, what was that, filmanity? That was a piss poor performance by a cinema that should have known better.

    Secondly: I wasn't aware that you planned to write about pretty much *every* film, series or book you're experiencing? Wow, that is quite a Mission Statement. I always admire people with the stamina for that kind of plan.

    Looking forward to all your future posts.

  4. Hey there Holger!

    Yeah, sure have been.

    Been doing the blog for just over a year and a half now and I've just gone past 360 posts.

    Of course, my viewing output has less than halved because I'm writing about stuff all the time! Doh!

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

    Folks! Check out some of Holger's blogs... especially if you like old Hammer movies. He does great work!

  5. Summer, 2012...

    Our town is blessed with a lot of classic-film theaters and festivals, and those folks say, "Out of aspect? That's an unscrew-wrong-lens, screw-in-right-lens change." No idea if this was appropriate for your theater, of course. But I find it amazingly appropriate that 'your' projectionists would do this to a film that uses pitchforks and torches among the aroused rabble.

    They might want to use that as a lesson!

    Too bad you couldn't have hauled them down to the front-row, staked their eyes open and forced them to endure out-of-aspect blurs in an 'up close and personal' scenario. Let them have some personal appreciation, so to speak. Too bad ultraviolence or meter-reading wasn't available to 'em.

  6. Hi again Chuck.

    A pitchfork might have been useful under the circumstances.