January 27, 2010

No Man's Nickelodeon

To begin, let me say, I have been accused of film snobbery. I’m sure most of the people who have sat in a movie theater with me while I silently scoffed, lamented, and finally died would agree with this. May I then preface this blog, in which I intend to write about film, by saying that I am not a film snob. I do not watch one kind of movie, nor do I base my opinions of the movies I do see on some elitist criteria. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like, and if most of what the film industry annually churns out falls into the latter category, boo on the film industry. Boo on the incredible earning power of film, a quality often prized above its ability to tell story or capture image or delight its audiences. I scoff, lament, and finally die because so much of what is pedaled in multiplex cinemas is such a waste of money and time and talent. I am discerning because I love film.

Let us, for the sake of kitsch, call this blog The Nowhere Nickelodeon. Setup: a recent alum of a California undergraduate film program moves to an island in rural Virginia. The closest movie theater is in the next county, and is basically a shack with projection quality akin to that of a babysitter equipped with a fluorescent light and a cotton sheet making animal head shapes with her hands. The internet connection is so slow and weather-dependent that video streaming is a near impossibility. TBS showings of Bring it On or Coyote Ugly and Netflix deliveries are the only feasible options. Welcome to the Nowhere Nickelodeon.

Every morning I get on my rusty bicycle and ride a mile and a quarter to the tiny island post office, where my mail is delivered. I have a mail key and a tiny mailbox just big enough for about 75% of my Netflix to survive being crammed into. The other 25% emerge snapped in half. Whether this is actually the fault of the postmistress or the fact that mail isn’t delivered to the island in a mail truck so much as a jeep with a flashing light bungee-corded to its hood, I do not know. Of course, there are benefits to living here rather than Santa Cruz, where I studied film and creative writing. It is remarkably beautiful, and I have never found people sleeping (or having sex) in my yard. College students don’t attempt to pee in the alley under my bedroom window. Wildlife here is actually wild. The deer do not stare blankly at me as I amble by; they actually run away, like real deer. That may be because people actively hunt here, but I like to think it’s some sign that the natural world may actually still be natural on the island. I spend a lot of time in Long Virginia Sleep discussing island life, and my outlook. Those who know we can attest that film is one of my favorite topics of endless conversation, but it has occurred to me that not everyone I know enjoys my hour long rants on the rampant homophobia of X-men 3 or wants to be victim to my diatribes about the pervasive, un-checked trend towards blatant misogyny in the UCSC production concentration. Shocking, I know. My comrades in the mostly-male film department weren’t always so thrilled either.

Anyway, this is not intended to be a place of torment. Rather, I’d like to use it as a space to offer my opinions and reflections on the many (many) films I consume weekly. I have no real structure in mind yet. It will surely develop as I go. The films will be a combination of new films, old films, favorite films, and the occasional film that lures me a county over to an actual movie theater. These are likely to be hated films.