August Potpourri

August 14, 2006
A thought by James Berardinelli

Random thoughts that won't fill up an entire column...

Contrary to what one e-mailer wrote, advertisements have not taken over my main movie page. Currently, there are four text links (two pairs of two) and one banner ad. It helps pay the bills. My tax return says it costs me around $8000 per year to run ReelViews. It's about time for me to put something in the revenue column. I would like nothing more than to make this endeavor profitable, and it starts with a few carefully selected ads. As I wrote in the past, I will not accept adult ads or ads directly associated with studios and/or movies. The former impacts the PG-13 nature of the website. The latter impinges upon a self-determined sense of ethics.

Every once in a while, I get a question from someone asking if I'm ever going to post the third book in my series, The Price of Terror. Judging by the volume (or lack thereof) of those queries, about a half-dozen people are awaiting this, but I'm not deterred by the absence of an upswell of anticipation. Recently, aided by the low (borderline nonexistent) volume of new movies to see/review, I have been writing in earnest. Only 3 1/2 chapters left to go; I should finish before I leave for Toronto. Assuming the trip goes as planned, I will be in a position to begin posting the novel on October 1. It is conveniently 31 chapters long, so it will go out one chapter per day for the month. That's the plan and it's as set in stone as anything about this site can be. (I rarely miss dates once I announce them as firm targets.)

I have achieved my 2006 goals of re-starting Video Views and adding an RSS feed. (The feed currently has about 550 subscribers. I have no idea if that's good or bad. It seems smallish compared to the overall readership of ReelViews, but I don't know what is considered "good" for an RSS subscription. Feedback from anyone who knows about this stuff would be appreciated.) My next step will be to re-design the site, but I'm at a loss where to begin. This probably won't happen for a while. At the point when I get serious, I may open it up to readership ideas. I don't foresee any money changing hands, but I have no problem providing free links to anyone who helps out.

Last Friday, I made a catastrophic mistake. I went to a theater to see Pulse then, on the spur of the moment, I decided to stick around to watch Zoom. This resulted in three hours of agony. Note to anyone who thinks it's a great job being a movie critic: go to a multiplex, pay your money, sit through Pulse and Zoom back-to-back, write 600 words about each, then get back to me.

With respect to high definition DVD, Sony appears to be repeating its Betamax screw up and shooting itself in the foot. The latest bit of news boggles the mind. The first generation of Blu-Ray players in computers will not play commercially available high-def DVDs (there's a copy protection issue). So you pay $1000 more to have a computer with an early Blu-Ray DVD drive, and the only thing you can use it for is as a higher capacity storage medium. It remains to be seen whether the rollout for the PS3 will be as big a debacle as it looks like it will be.

This is a strange movie month. Since I started attending press screenings in 1997, I can't recall such an extended period without screenings. Nothing last week, nothing this week, nothing next week. It's a combination of lots of stuff being released without giving the press an early look and smaller films that were screened long ago. (For example, I saw The Illusionist in early June. Trust the Man is from last year's Toronto Film Festival.)

It was a real pleasure to re-visit The Apartment recently for Video Views. Like many films from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, I saw it on video in the late 1980s or early 1990s when I started becoming interested in cinema. I liked it at the time, but it didn't leave a strong impression, so my recent enthusiastic reaction surprised me. This will be the first "old" film that will invade my Top 100 when I accomplish my next revision to the list in January 2007. I haven't thought about where to place it, but it will be there somewhere.

The more I see the Lindsay Wagner commerical for a "Sleep Number" bed, the more I wish The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman would get DVD releases. Yes, they're cheesy, but that's part of the fun. I sometimes like watching cheesy stuff. Those two shows are time trips back to my childhood. (Plus, at one time, I had a crush on Ms. Wagner - at least inasumch as a nine-year old can have a crush on anyone.) One can appreciate something for its nostalgia value while at the same time acknowleging that it's objectively not very good. Wait till I review Xanadu next month.