A Necessary Hiatus
Thanks to everyone who has written to ask if everything was okay, or if anything was okay. Short version: I'm gearing up for the year-long process of having my tenure case considered at Northwestern, which means that for the past six months I've been working even harder than normal on academic writing, document preparation, manuscript revisions, conference presentations, and all the other ducks that need to be in line on my end so that multiple sets of undisclosed reviewers can consider my case and make a determination that will only become final around this time next year. A sufficient number of fellow academics are regular readers that I'm guessing a few of you know how much work this process entails; others are welcome to ask offsite, and I'll peel back the mysterious curtain of assistant-professorhood without scaring you all away. Anyway, that's the explanation for the radio silence since that pre-historical era when sentient life was still congealing in the primordial ooze, when dinosaurs were stepping on each other's heads at creekside, and when we all still thought Viola Davis might get the Oscar.
Dispatches will remain irregular through the summer, I'm sorry to say, but the glass-half-full version of that statement is that you'll start seeing some movement around here. For example, Daniel Stamm—the director of 2010's The Last Exorcism, a spidery, effective horror film that's really stayed with me—has recently premiered his first film, A Necessary Death, on iTunes and DVD and has sent me a review copy. I had as great a teaching experience as I did a viewing experience with The Last Exorcism, so I'm eager to screen its predecessor... and since the premise of the film makes it virtually impossible to discuss without inviting spoilers, I absolutely urge you to rent it and save up your responses for a discussion in the Comments.
I have also been shipped some Blu-Rays from Warner Bros. that they have asked me to review—a range that includes some of your favorites and mine, some of your favorites that I sort of hate, and some movies movies you hated that I found sort of interesting. I won't be reporting about every disc that makes its way here (sorry, folks, but under no circumstances whatsoever), but I'm enjoying the chance to revisit films I haven't seen in a while, or wanted to say something about recently but didn't, or am hoping to find a fresh angle on... especially since the Warners folks have been absolutely wonderful to deal with and have made very clear that they don't expect me to adore everything that's coming my way. (Though sometimes adoration is the only sane response).
And yes: more actresses, more birthdays, some redesigns, and even a Top Ten list for 2011. Because until hell freezes over, there's always time. Stay tuned, and thanks for hanging in there with me!