Sunday, January 04, 2015

Celebrating Cinematic Anniversaries in 2015

New Year's has always been my favorite holiday. I was born on October 9 but due on October 1, and if you dial that back nine months, you see I'm not kidding about "always." Even before I gleaned this tidbit, and before the ritualized annual viewing of When Harry Met Sally..., I always liked this holiday's equal soliciting of introspection, retrospection, and speculation, plus its hospitality to the greatest activity of all time, which is list-making. (I'm more of a stay-home-and-think New Year's celebrant than a crash-the-hotel, let's-get-drunk-on-the-minibar type. And despite what we pretend on New Year's, people don't change.) For many years, starting in high school, I would make a list on New Year's Eve of 24 movies I wanted to see and 24 books and 24 plays I wanted to read in the coming year. Though I never finished them, I made great discoveries that way. I also found these to be more motivating resolutions and easier ones to keep than "exercise more," "learn Spanish," or "chug less Mountain Dew."

This year, I'm reviving that habit. Each month I will write short reviews of at least two films celebrating an anniversary in 2015, starting in January in 1895 (often cited, however debatably, as the birth-year of "the movies") and ending in December in 2005. One will be a film I've never seen but clearly should have. Another will be a title I'm eager to revisit—not necessarily a "best" or a personal favorite, but the kind of artistic or cultural landmark that scores high on my recently-reinstituted VOR scale. Beyond filling out some viewing holes and clarifying my takes on challenging milestones, I'm hoping this cycle will re-habituate me to at least publish capsules about films I watch, will further clarify what I mean by "VOR," and might approximate the phantom film-history survey I rarely get to teach in my day job but would happily offer for free. And it'll keep me on track for other major changes to the entire site I'll be unfolding over the year.

Am I aware that I never finish website projects? Yes. But New Year's Day is the global day of optimism! And it's just two movies per month—more when time permits, and/or when being a Libra impedes my ability to choose. Best of all, I've already gotten a head start in the waning weeks of December. So I hope you'll keep me going through this marathon with your comments and clicks, and I hope you'll enjoy following along!

For our first installment, we begin in 1895, as crucial a year in the history of sexuality as in the history of movies, which brings us quickly to Thomas Edison's laboratory and the Dickson Experimental Sound Film...

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Anonymous Evanderholy said...

Hey Nick, Happy New Year! It's been great to see so much activity on your blog lately! I really enjoyed your posts celebrating great collaborations in 2014 and look forward to your "Celebrating Cinematic Anniversaries in 2015" project over this next year. And now I'm about to be rude and selfishly ask for more, but I'd really love to know what your current 100 greatest movies list looks like as well as what tops your movies "you love to love" list if only because I'm always curious to see what anyone, especially you, considers "the best". I've added many titles to my netflix queue based on those two lists. I truly think you're one of the most exciting writers about film on the web. I'll be excited to hear your thoughts on movies in the year ahead.

8:44 AM, January 05, 2015  
Blogger James T said...

I haven't been much of a devoted movie lover lately but if there is one person who can keep me interested in cinema's beauty despite whatever else is going on in my life...
Looking forward to those mini reviews!

5:49 AM, January 06, 2015  
Anonymous Laika said...

Great to see some new writing on your site! And who cares about merely *completing* a project when the premise fosters such great work while it lasts? Your best actress birthdays, for example, included a couple of my most-revisited pieces of film writing (Piper in Tim!) Let no miserly completism psyche you out of embarking on these magnificent voyages.

So thanks for the Dickson Experiment piece, and for excavating so much from such a short fragment. You'll have an avid reader in me going forward.

11:56 AM, January 12, 2015  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Evanderholy: Always great to hear from you, and I have every intent of rebooting those features soon. Not trying to promise too much at once, so I'm glad you're enjoying this series, which I just kept going tonight, in the nick of time. But I've just rewatched the next two movies on the endlessly-deferred Favorites countdown so that I can pick that back up soon.

@James T: I was realizing I hadn't heard much from you in a while! Glad to see you chime in.

@Laika: And that's a troika of names I'm always happy to see. You have of course delighted me by making me feel like even my truncated initiatives have been appreciated. I dwell so much on the work undone. So, thanks for saying this. And I'm really glad you like the Dickson piece. Hope you'll like the new one, too, about the 1895 Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.

10:34 PM, January 31, 2015  

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