Dailies; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

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With a few followers now, I’ve become a little more self-conscious about this site—maybe more website than blog? And now, with this creeping self-consciousness, becoming, well, bloggier? No matter. I don’t like the idea of having even a one-day hiatus in writing, so I thought I’d say a little more about my goals for this… thing, this entity, which I’ve named “The Retrospective Reel.”

First off, I’ll say that the site is still a work in progress in terms of design and content presentation. The content I’ve posted so far already constitutes two different types of writing: 1) for lack of a better name, I’ll call the Breaking Bad series (which will comprise 5 parts) a sort of “Why we love…” style post; 2) “Dailies,” which, like the one I’m writing now, is intended to be somewhat chattier, informative, and brief. I might eventually just change that first category to “Why I love…” since I haven’t done any polls on Breaking Bad, and trying to be objective is a fool’s errand anyway. But the real goal of these pieces is to pick something that is, by all appearances, a cultural phenomenon, and to spend a week or two contemplating the why and how of it. “Dailies” (as I’ve mentioned previously) might have a special focus on film art and be related to a current theme or series; however: I’m now expanding their definition to also be “daily” posts—like this one—on upcoming topics.

So then: My plan is to eventually add some more menus and more thematic categories. What to expect? Sometime this week: a “Genre Review” post, likely on the western (e.g., John Ford perhaps); a “Feature/Long Read” post, definitely (because it’s all ready to go) on Richard Linklater’s “Before” series (Before Sunrise celebrated its 20th anniversary this summer, don’t you know?). Why westerns, why Linklater? Time, people: time. In case of Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) or (even in an even more pronounced way) The Searchers (1956), time presses urgently, heavily on the characters and, I’d like to think, on the director himself. In the later film, the “time” for looking back seems to be running out (characters keep asking questions like, where is “America”? what will become of “our America”?). Watch the film, and you’ll see what I mean. In the case of Linklater, well, I think David Sims from The Atlantic says it eloquently enough: his films constitute “grand experiments with time,” and not just in Boyhood (2014): the “Before” series (1995-2013) dramatizes a (more or less) twenty-year relationship, so we get to watch the couple grow. Over time.  

In other words, despite appearances, I’m interested in something other than Breaking Bad. I’m sure this is just a phase. (It should be over by about September 28.) Something that’s not: my plot-spoiling. I’m going to say this a lot now so maybe down the road I don’t have to say it anymore: I spoil plots. There, I said it: this is my confession. I don’t do it out of spite (for some reason, I hear Dustin Hoffman, as Willy Loman, screaming that: “Spite! Spite is the word of your undoing!”). I hope that readers have read the films and TV shows I’m discussing, just as I would if I was writing on a short story or novel. So that’s my approach: analysis, which assumes an audience’s knowledge of plot. There, that’s out of the way.

And now, a recap of what sort of content you’ll see on this site:

               Dailies

               Genre Review

               Feature

               Why We Love…

A couple more words on these categories. October and the approach of Halloween will mean some thoughts on the horror genre (and doesn’t A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night deserve another look?). With my “Feature” category, I’ll be taking a bit of a risk: the posts will be “long,” at least in terms of “internet” long: between 1000 and 2500 words, though the longer of the long ones will discuss at least three films.

In every case (in every type of writing on The Retrospective Reel), I plan to “look back,” even sometimes only a few years or months. I like to chew things over, let things settle, allow the substance of the film or TV show to hit my bloodstream and see what happens over time. No gut responses or knee-jerk reactions. A little more thought, a little more teeth into gristle, a little more time.

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