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...