ReelThoughts: January 05, 2004

"What Is ReelThoughts?"

Commentary by James Berardinelli


This is the newest feature offered by this website, and it has a couple of purposes. First of all, it will allow me to have a more open and immediate dialogue with readers. It will also permit me to address any issues that pop to mind without having to sit down and write a lengthy, formal commentary. Secondly, it will fill the "void" of new content left by the completion of the Top 100.

At this point, I'm not sure how often I will be adding to this feature. On busy weeks, maybe only once or twice. During "down times," perhaps every day or other day. Some entries will be only a paragraph or two; others will be long. Although most of my musings will deal with film, I'll occasionally venture into current events, politics, and/or sports. Whatever I need to get off my chest. (Originally, I was going to call this the "ReelViews Soapbox.") I will also address provocative topics that are raised in e-mails from readers. My goal is not to offer scoops about up-coming productions. After all, this isn't "Ain't it Reel News."

Upcoming Website Improvements

In the near-term, I have added the "ReelThoughts" column and will be re-instituting the links section. I intend to write between 20 and 30 reviews of older movies during the course of 2004 (approximately one every two weeks). I won't be adding many commentaries, since "ReelThoughts" will fill that void. (Exceptions: I will be doing a "live" Oscar night column, as well as the usual end-of-the-year essay.)

Then there's the issue of adding pictures to the reviews. This is an enhancement I have been considering for some time. Even though there will only be two or three small (<20kB) pictures per review, the amount of work required to select and re-size the graphics is not inconsequential; it will increase the time to write a review by 15-20 minutes. Based on e-mail responses to my first review with pictures Chasing Liberty), this approach is not without controversy. To quote from the e-mail of a dissenter: "Most film critics' sites have pictures alongside the reviews, and that's what makes them so unpalatable... Sir, being a very regular reader (on average twice a day), I beg you... to kindly undo this atrocity." Since I do not take comments like that lightly, I have decided to make January a "trial period" for the picture-enhanced reviews. If there is an upsurge of negative e-mail, I'll discontinue the new style and go back to the old one. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. (I will note that, to this point, the majority response has been positive.)

Why No "Baby?"

Over the course of the first two weeks of 2004, I will see about six movies. One of them will not be Miramax's My Baby's Daddy. Why not? (I am often asked this question about films I choose not to review.) Simply put, there are enough lackluster movies out there at this time of the year that I pick and choose to avoid drowning in mediocrity. The premise and previews for My Baby's Daddy make it look awful. Plus, the press screening is at an extremely inconvenient theater (easily a 90-minute drive, each way - or 25 minutes longer than my usual trek). I only go to that particular locale when there's something I want to experience, and this doesn't fit the bill. And I'm not willing to pay $9 to see it once it opens. So, barring an unexpected development (such as someone I trust telling me it's not to be missed), don't expect a review here. However, I will be seeing such fare as Chasing Liberty, Torque, Along Came Polly, The Butterfly Effect, and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. That's enough of a penance for past misdeeds.


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