Month in Review: July ’18

To encourage a bit more variety in my blogging posts and to help distance this site from the one of old, I’m installing this monthly post where I summarize the previous month’s activity in a wraparound that will hopefully give people the chance to go back and find stuff they might have missed, as well as keep them apprised of any changes or news that happened that month.

Don’t look now, but this past July I produced a whopping four new film reviews. That’s like, one or two more than what I put out the last several months, but it’s also not that much. Specifically, it is 14 less 10, the result of 100 divided by 25 and the square root of 16. I produced the square root of 16 number of reviews this month. That sounds somehow . . . better. In a perfect world (or, back in 2013/’14/’15) I would make sure those numbers were bare minimums for the month, but I can no longer make those assurances because, well . . .

I’m not very good at keeping schedules and I’m just as bad with commitment. Well, maybe not as bad. This past July, my blog of old (Digital Shortbread — a name I couldn’t quite abandon so I kept it as my URL! My Earl!) turned 7 years old. Forgive me for getting a little nostalgic here but I’m proud of that, because the journey has not always been easy. In fact the longer you do this I feel the greater the challenge becomes to find new inspiration. Like, this isn’t a personal problem of mine. Getting burned out is a really common occurrence. This actually brings me to an interesting question about the blogging process.

Before we get into that though, here is a quick glimpse at what has been going on on Thomas J during the last month.


New Posts

Sicario 2: Day of the SoldadoAnt-man and the WaspSorry to Bother YouSkyscraper

Five Most Anticipated Fall 2018 Releases

As we shift into the awards season (I know!), naturally there are going to be some priorities and as of right now, they look a little something like this (in no particular order):

  1. White Boy Rick (September 14) — the true story of the rise of America’s youngest drug kingpin-turned FBI informant. Stars Matthew McConaugh-hey as the father and Richie Merritt as Richard Wersche, Jr. From the director who brought you ’71.
  2. Venom (October 5) — with a face like Venom, who now can honestly say they don’t want to kiss Tom Hardy? The dude is stacking up an impressive list of villainous roles and in this anti-heroic origins story about one of Spider-man’s nemeses, he looks to leave a disturbing impression. Fingers and tongues crossed.
  3. First Man (October 12) — all you needed to say was Damien Chazelle and I’m there. But then you add to that the fact Ryan Gosling is re-teaming with his La La Land director on a project about astronaut Neil Armstrong (famous for something) and, well, I have no words other than . . . TAKE. MY. MONEY! This could be a classic.
  4. Beautiful Boy (October 12) — I’ll be honest here, the only thing I am using to build my expectations is the trailer for Beautiful Boy. It mesmerized me, offering up yet another dramatic role for Steve Carell in a drama about drug addiction, relapse and recovery — based on the memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff. Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet will play Nic.
  5. Widows (November 16) — from the master of the gut-wrenching drama Steve McQueen, Widows tells the story of four women who join forces for a heist after their conmen husbands are killed during a botched robbery. Though the genre doesn’t necessarily scream “tough to watch,” I am anticipating another heavy-hitter. This is the director of 12 Years a Slave, Hunger and Shame, after all. This one is (probably) gonna get rough. Unless it doesn’t, and becomes something unlike anything he’s done before. Worth noting, too, is the absence of McQueen regular Michael Fassbender.

So with another month of frustration over and done with, I have to know —

What’s your writing process like? How do you set about filling up a blank page? How quick are you to the writing board after seeing a movie? Are you a throw-down-the-hammer type of producer — the kind to start and finish in an hour or do you labor over it over the course of several sessions? When do you feel most productive and accomplished?

Me? I suffer. I’m absolutely the latter. I drag myself through the trenches of coming up with a first draft, then polishing it into a second. Then, I get fucked by editing. That part is war. An attrition of deletion and rephrasing that only a great university instructor in Bonnie Hufford could have prepared me for. One of the principal tenets of this blog has always been coming as close as possible to achieving grammatical perfection. I have taken pride in my work in that way and hopefully have made my former journo profs proud here, but who knows — commas, semicolons and hyphens are tricky little fuckers and I’m sure I misuse them all the time.


Well that got boring at the end there. Jesus.
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17 thoughts on “Month in Review: July ’18

  1. You know how I feel about your writing. It comes through graceful and interesting. Surely you make a living at this, right? I find I spit out shit and then go back and shape and rework it. Sometimes it takes 3 hours to create a post. I’m so slow! I don’t do full-length reviews. I prefer to put a few thoughts down to the ones I really enjoy.
    Can’t wait for fall films. I’ve seen trailers for a few that you’ve listed. Not Widows. Gut-wrenching, huh? I can’t miss it, can I? Have to see Venom, too. Did you like Taboo?

    • It’s probably a good thing I don’t get paid for this, time is a writer’s most precious commodity. The other day I kid you not I spent close to 8 hours at my local Starbucks working on a draft for…something. And it still wasn’t finished. It’s been like that a lot lately. We are talking multiple days before one thing is done hahah. Efficiency is not my strong suit. That said, i am always usually satisfied with the final results. It’s so nice seeing the support I get on these posts. I’m not naturally graceful. That’s something I’m always working on, but it’s so nice to hear that from published authors, such as yourself. 😀

      That’s the cool thing about blogging though. The only deadlines I have are the ones I set for myself. The same can be said for the “stress” I occasionally feel. I’m sure to some who may be reading this that this is all melodramatic but I’ve been needing to get this out of me, this post, for some time. The feedback has been amazing.

  2. I like your post on the process. Me? I usually fall somewhere between 24-72 hrs to get my thoughts up after watching a movie; with the rare exception when everything I want to say flows out of my mind and onto the keys in like 5 hrs (like my Dark Web post). I almost always take a notepad into a theater. I’ll often have the summary (no more than 15-20% of the movie) in the first two paragraphs (I’m going to screenings a lot more after work, so upon coming home I’ll often have at least the summary done before I go to bed), and then start cranking out the rest the next day, and maybe the last part the day after that.

    I too like to make sure my posts are grammatically correct and “diverse” as possible. Am I using too many conjunctions? Glut of repetitive words? Can I at least live with the flow of my ideas? I’ll copy/paste my post in MS Word before I hit publish (twofold also, since I write for another site occasionally now, but I was doing this before the other obligation as well) so that I can catch all of this, or at least come close. Nothing bothers me more than seeing writers on here post with crazy amounts of errors. None of us are perfect and will still miss an error or two, and we all have differentiators/idiosyncracies that make us a little different, but if you’re consistently making errors on basic s***, I may still read but I kind of lose respect for said person, lol. It takes no effort to paste your WordPress piece into word and do a little proofreading.

    Keep trusting your process, bro. You’ve got a great one.

    • I’m gaining some cool insight here. I’m always impressed when people tell me they take notes during the movie. I can’t split my attention that way, but on the other hand that seems really convenient for movies you just can’t get to immediately. I always go on memory. That tends to fail after a two day period lol.

      As always, i appreciate your readership and commenting. It means a lot man

      • No problem man! You’re one of the best, and I remember starting in 2014 getting a lot of inspiration and “know how” just from observing you. Whenever you publish something, it’s much appreciated.

        • Ah, very nice of you to say Mark. And I appreciate the input. It is always good to share this energy around and remind ourselves of why we do this.

  3. I have no education in the writing department, so I’ve mostly been winging it (but I’d like to think I’ve gotten a little better over the years). Usually, after watching a movie, I sit on it for a few days and give it time to really sink in. After that, I write my review (almost always on the weekend) and can get it done in about an hour—my reviews are really short, so that helps!

    • Thanks so much for sharing Ryan. I love your reviews. It’s just interesting to hear how people approach the same thing in different ways. I used to do a lot of writing late at night but my new job has gotten me to switch to more normal hours haha. I’ve always wondered how long people let movies sit before the details of the movie begin to blur. For me, thats like a day or two lol

      • One thing that happens to me (a lot, surprisingly) is that I won’t realize how much I truly loved (or hated) a movie until I’ve finished the review. Like, I’ll give a movie a score (out of 5) in my head as soon as I’m done watching it, but by the time I’ve finished my review it usually changes!

        • Oh it’s the same with me! And often it trends one way. A lot of times I leave a theater on a major high. Then a few hours pass and I tend to usually cool a little bit.

  4. Hey man. About my ‘process’, I’m probably a mix of both. I hit it pretty fast after seeing a movie. But I also stretch it out if necessary and don’t feel pressure to have it done quickly. With reviews I mainly start with notes – thoughts and impressions that I want to hit on. From there I try and let it come together naturally. What I continue to struggle with is making my reviews sound more conversational rather than systematic. I’m my worst critic in that area.

    • I know that feeling well! For me it’s a constant process of deciding whether I like what I’ve written and is it understandable for others lol. I tend to go off on tangents in my reviews. It is greatly appreciated my readers are willing to hear me out haha!

      Your style is one of my favorites. I think you’re one of the more conversational writers I follow. I always admire the way you consider all aspects to a film and give it a fair shake

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