Nine Years of Movie Blogging

Go go gadget holy sh*t! I’ve just been reminded that today marks my ninth year of blogging with WordPress! (If you want to read something quaint, here’s the review that began it all.)

Some time ago, maybe circa 2013-14, I jokingly commented to someone that I’d be doing this for a decade. Well, that’s actually doable now. I’ve been really happy about how this blog has helped me focus on the craft of writing, despite the fact I probably abandoned my original goal (to write columns with word counts that adhered to proper AP style) within the first year or two. Or was that the first post? Either way, after awhile I’ve come to realize that this platform lends itself more to free form writing. I’m not a website. I’m a blog, and a pretty obscure one at that!

In year nine of what is probably going to be an arbitrary number of them, I notice several major areas of improvement for myself. Namely, in the self-promotion department. I am awful at it! In fact I’ve been so proud of my avoidance of Twitter for all these years. But I reluctantly admit now that that strategy hasn’t really helped me. It’s also worth noting my Letterboxd profile desperately needs attention as well. It’s pretty much stagnated since I first opened it up sometime last fall.

When it comes to content, I have major blind spots in terms of genres, major names, and eras. I used to run a weekly feature called Throwback Thursday (yeah, what an original name, right??) and that would be an opportunity for me to dive back into films of the past. It’s possible that feature makes a return, either in its original form or some slightly tweaked version.

Whatever the changes that are to come and that have taken place over the years, one thing has remained true: it is because of the friends and followers I have had for nearly a DECADE that has kept my motivation going. I can’t overstate what it has meant to have people reading these obscure scribblings. It may be 10 years next July, but I’m not considering that the end of my journey. I hope you’ll still be following along. 

Celebrating Five Years of DSB

DSB 5.0

As I tend to do every year, this July 4 I’d like to reflect back on yet another amazing year of blogging about the movies here on Digital Shortbread™. I’m feeling more confident than ever going forward with this project of mine. Thus I don’t foresee too many changes in the way things are run around here, at least for the time being. Until I inevitably start getting ancy again. 😉

No, indeed here in year numero cinco, I’d like to just see if I can keep the status quo. I want to continue to reinvent what I do here while remaining a reliable source of diverse movie reviews and commentary. And I want to continue to learn from your experiences as much as I do from my own. It’s so reinvigorating knowing that in the five years since I’ve been here I keep bumping into more and more people with similar mindsets, interests, tastes and obsessions. I’m constantly torn in different directions to pay attention to something new and it’s both exhausting and exhilarating all at once.

The blogging landscape sure has changed since I first arrived. But the support I have felt behind each and every new post I make, each edition of the DigiBread Awards that I host, has not. So, for the fifth time in a row, I must thank you all for choosing to read what I have to write. Thank you so much for keeping me motivated.

DSB 5.0 movies of the year so far collage


So here are five things we’re going to do to mark this occasion:

  1. Every single one of you who has ever commented on and/or Liked one of my posts will automatically get $5. There you go! Did you feel that change in your bank account? You should, because really, it’s the thought that counts;
  2. More practically, everyone who leaves a comment on this particular post will get some combination of five emojis (don’t worry, they’ll be positive as long as your comments are positive);
  3. We’re going to start a count-down to the five films I will be most looking forward to the rest of this calendar year (in essence a truncated version of a top-that list but I will link these reviews back here instead) — and I’d like to know if I should be so excited about these films or not from you guys;
  4. Tell me: which five movies do you wish were opening up next weekend? These can be any movies you’re excited about. Anything at all. (However, if you bring up that Nine Lives movie starring Kevin Spacey as a cat our friendship will cease to exist.)
  5. Poll time! The more votes on this the better peeps so don’t be shy of suggesting one of the five films I listed below for me to go back and re-watch and give a one or two paragraph write-up on my thoughts on the second viewing. These are all films I have initially given a max of 4/8 slices to, so the goal is to see if any of these movies (whichever gets the most votes) deserved a more positive review.


FIVE UPCOMING ’16 RELEASES I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE

  1. Suicide Squad (August 5) — looks crazy, is directed by David Ayers, and . . . I mean, just look at that cast Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I sound like a total bandwagoning fan right now but man does this movie look like fun!
  2. Sully (September 9) — story of Chesley Sullenberger, who became a hero after safely landing his plane in the Hudson River after birds flew into the engine. Predictable and overly dramatic it may well become, but this likable cast and this great director (Eastwood) make this a must-see for me this September
  3. The Birth of a Nation (October 7) — much-talked about Sundance sensation has already been putting off strong vibes à la Steve McQueen’s brutal 12 Years a Slave.  A movie that I just have to see no matter how difficult it may be to endure.
  4. Doctor Strange (November 4) — another good example of me going into a movie having little, if any, background knowledge of the story. But the film gains a lot more interest on the grounds of it starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular, arrogant doctor Stephen Strange. Plus, you know, the whole thing just looks . . . whacky. Can’t wait!
  5. Loving (November 4) — the next film from Jeff Nichols, a director that has yet to let me down. I am still in need of checking out Take Shelter, but I am more looking forward to seeing what this decidedly more Joel Edgerton-centered film has to offer. Michael Shannon is in it too, but looks to take a backseat.

Well, that about does it folks. Onward we go! I’d like to once again spread the thank-you’s as far and wide as they can go. Thank you for helping DSB stick around just a little longer and for helping me celebrate a fifth year here. Don’t forget to leave your responses below (or else relinquish the opportunity to interact with me purely through emoticons). 

The John C. Reilly Factor — a new feature coming soon!

Better late than never to make good on my promise to supplement last year’s Franco Files, right? Well, several months into this new year and I finally have settled on the idea. This new feature is literally sprung from my recent watch of another Paul Thomas Anderson “masterpiece,” a little film some might know as Magnolia. In it blossoms one of the greatest performances I’ve seen from someone I’ve really come to admire over the years as one of the more versatile and all-around likable actors working today. It inspired me to take the magnifying glass to this actor and take note of how films are impacted by his presence.

The goal is to hopefully unify each entry within this extended thread by examining several major elements, such as the actor’s style, his range within the character, how the writing elevates his work (or at times lets it down), and how the film might have played out differently should another actor have been cast in the role. I might take some different avenues every now and then depending on the film/role but this essentially will play out much like the format of The Franco Files (and if you have missed what those posts were all about, feel free to browse the menu titled ‘The Franco Files’ located above the blog’s banner), we have a feature revolving around this single actor in what will hopefully become a diverse list of films he’s had a part in.

I’m hoping to kick this off sometime this month. Life is a bit hectic at the moment and I haven’t been able to give even my own site the attention I want. This also hopefully explains my awful procrastination in making the rounds on all the other great blogs out there. I do apologize for my lack of input, but hopefully the times will once again change.

And if anyone’s curious as to how I came up with the name of this new feature, I’ve kind of taken the liberty to parody the pundit everyone loves to hate the most, good old Bill O’Reilly (his show is known as The O’Reilly Factor). The major difference will hopefully be our political views, as both of us are, probably to a great many, overbearingly opinionated ogres. 😉 At any rate, I do hope this new feature is met with the same great response TFF did — I had a lot of fun putting that together and with a bit of luck maybe this will be a success too. Stay tuned.

jcr

The Franco Files — #1

ff

It’s been a new year for a little while now, but it’s been even longer since I’ve introduced a new concept/feature to this humble little pet project of mine.

Dudes and dudettes, I have to say I’ve waited long enough to unveil this idea, and after sitting on this for awhile I think it’s time to allow this guy to stretch his legs. I present to you fine folks, THE FRANCO FILES, a monthly feature in which I will break down a certain performance from one of my favorite actors, Mr. James Franco and detail his impact in the film he takes part in. I haven’t yet decided whether or not to expand this feature to other actors later, although that is entirely possible. For now, it will remain relative to the work of James Franco, whether it is a lead role or a contributing supporting role; however major or minor, if his name is billed, it counts.

My hope is that, through this extended feature, I bring some attention to just how exactly a single performer can influence a film, as well as turn a spotlight on the nuances of this particular actor’s entire body of work. I hope you enjoy.

127-Hours-Aron-Ralston-James-Franco-600x390

Francophile #1: Aron Ralston, 127 Hours

Role Type: Lead

Genre: Biographical drama/Biopic

Character Profile: Mr. Franco plays 27-year-old Aron Ralston, an outdoor enthusiast from Colorado (born in Ohio). This is no ordinary adventurer, however, when in 2003, Ralston found himself trapped in a narrow section of canyon in the remote regions of southeastern Utah after dislodging a boulder and getting his right hand pinned between it and the canyon wall. In an improbable fight for survival, Franco is tasked with conveying the long descent into panic and despair as he exhausts all options for escape over a five day period. Given Ralston’s experience outdoors, and an incredible ability to think rationally and strategically, Franco has been presented quite the challenge in managing emotional extremes, especially since overdoing any given emotion could ruin the film’s startling realism. To his credit, overacting in this situation could be an easy mistake to make, and yet he handles the job with grace and dignity. His Aron Ralston is one of the actor’s very best performances.

If you lose Franco, the film loses: It’s heart. There is no doubt that 127 Hours is Franco’s film. It is impossible to think of this movie without picturing his many facial expressions and playful mannerisms, even before things get serious. Since the film’s debut in 2010, despite his many other film appearances, it’s also equally difficult separating the actor from this experience. Strong direction from Danny Boyle certainly helps elevate the drama,  but the bulk of this emotionally draining experience rests upon the former Freaks & Geeks star’s shoulders.

Out of Character: “When Danny told me how he wanted me to approach this film and this role, I listened to him. He wanted me to meet with him extensively beforehand, learn everything I could from Aron. But when we shot, it would be more of a performance from the inside-out. He would put me through certain paces so that I would have my own experience, so that I wasn’t trying to slavishly recreate all the nuances of Aron’s behavior, but instead he would put me in situations that were close enough to Aron’s — short of me cutting my own arm off — so that, yeah I would have my own experience. So in that sense, maybe you do get a lot of me. He was very interested in a comedic side to this role. It was very important to balance out the intensity of some of the material and to get the audience on board with the character early on.”

Rate the Performance (relative to his other work):

5-0


All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.extratv.com