I love to sit way up front at the movies,
where I can get fully immersed in the picture. I want to actually see the emulsion of the
image go flat and grainy to signal an upcoming fade or dissolve. That's just part of the
texture of the movies, as far as I'm concerned. If I have to sit ten or more rows back, I
feel really distanced from the screen. It's like I'm locked outside of a room where
things are happening and have to peer through a window, like Stella Dallas (or James
Stewart in Rear Window). Besides, if I wanted to look at an image that
size, I'd stick to video.
To me, few things are as fun and rewarding as
getting up close to a movie -- exploring its details, figuring out what makes it tick, and
savoring those ineffable little miracles of light and shadow, movement, framing, music,
sound, and performance that grace the blessed ones. No, it doesn't spoil the
"mystery" of movies for me -- if anything, it deepens my appreciation for the
many simultaneous "frequencies" motion pictures can use to transmit subtle and
complex information, emotion, and stimulation to our senses and our intellects.
Opinions about movies -- especially on the web --
are a dime a dozen: "Everybody's a critic." But a random
"opinion" doesn't mean diddly if it's not backed up with knowledge and insight.
That's a critic's job. You won't agree with me all the time -- I guarantee it
-- but I hope you'll come away looking at some films (or maybe movies in general)
differently than you did before, and have some sense of why I've devoted most of my life
to watching, studying, presenting, making, and celebrating them...
I have no desire to subject you to my considered
opinions and analyses for even a fraction of the thousands of movies I've reviewed over
the years. (Most of them, naturally, were utterly disposable factory products --
celluloid Huggies -- anyway.) From the late '70s to the mid-'90s, I saw somewhere between
250 and 450 movies annually -- in studio screening rooms, neighborhood independent
theaters, mall multiplexes, museum and academic film series, university classes,
international festivals, or on VHS, laserdisc, cable, DSS, you name it.
So, I've started here by posting reviews I already
have in electronic form -- mostly of pictures from the late '80s and early '90s, plus a
few classics of which I'm exceptionally fond. Rather than simply list them all
alphabetically, I thought it would be fun to categorize them more or less by my general
reactions to them: love, hate, or ambivalence. The method behind this madness, I
hope, is to show how a critic, or any cine-literate citizen of this century, develops
certain principles (or values, aesthetics) in which his or her "opinions" are
firmly rooted -- whether or not those principles are (or ever can be) consciously
articulated. A lousy or loathsome movie, or a puzzling and unsatisfying one, may
offer as many revelations about the nature and significance of the art/industry/form (and
your own evolving relationship to it) as a masterpiece. That's just one way in
which, even in the relatively dull and debased cinematic climate of the late 1990s, the
movies remain the most potent, complex, and exciting medium in the world.
by clicking this sign or the image at the top of the page...