Go Softly On...

January 07, 2007
A thought by James Berardinelli

January is a painfully slow month for movie critics. After the frenzy of December, it can be considered a relief, but the fall-off is almost too sudden and dramatic. It's easy to get into a pattern of seeing four or five movies a week and writing late-night reviews for availability the next day. However, based on the current release schedule, I will have between nine and 11 new reviews this month, and several will be day-of-release reviews (due to a lack of press screenings: Primeval, The Hitcher, etc.). This limitation of new theatrical fare is typical of January. The reason is twofold: studios are ramping out prestige films that received limited release in late December and potential bad weather in many northern cities can limit movie-going. (Thus far, this has not been the case across most of the United States, Denver excepted). This lack of multiplex activity is why I often use the month to tinker with the site. 2007's changes won't be dramatic, since I revamped the site last November, but there will be some changes.

The new "look" will stay much the same, although I will debut a new logo within the next week or two. The old one worked well for the old look of the site, but it isn't well-matched to the way things look now. Pages with dark backgrounds will gradually be updated to be more in line with the current look of the site. (The Archives page in particular looks strange with the white search bar in the midst of all the darkness.) As far as ads are concerned, I don't see any changes in the near future. I may incorporate product from other ad providers but the current "ad areas" will stay as they are (they won't be expanded).

Speaking of ads, some readers have been critical but, for those who believe the site has turned into nothing more than a commercial repository, I have avoided a number of intrusive techniques that other sites use. I have not interrupted reviews with ads. (For example, after about two paragraphs, there's an ad that must be scrolled past to get to the rest of the text.) While I can appreciate that some readers may be distracted by an ad to the right of a review, imagine how much more annoying things could get... I also have not broken the reviews into multiple pages in a transparent attempt to cram more ad impressions into one review. And, as I have written in the past, as long as I keep my day job, there will be no pop-unders. The revenue from those is impressive, but I won't open that stream until I need the money, which isn't the case now. Still, if I could find a lucrative means of advertising, I would gladly reduce the number of ads. I bow to necessity, but I don't welcome it. After all, I kept ReelViews non-commercial for a decade. (Cue the broken record...)

Video Views will have a new theme for 2007: "Sublime and Ridiculous." Every month I will post one new review of an older movie in the "Sublime" category and one in the "Ridiculous" category. The rules by which a movie will be assigned to one category or the other will be flexible. Essentially, "Sublime" is a drama or a classic. "Ridiculous" is anything else. So, for example, Brazil will classified as "Ridiculous" (despite having substantial depth) while Breezy will be "Sublime." Don't make too much out of the categorizations - it's just a way to provide some variety in the kinds of older movies being reviewed.

ReelThoughts will continue with a goal of two new posts per week on average. At the moment, I have a backlog of topics to address and not a lot of new movies to see, so the frequency may be up over the next few weeks. I also have a few housekeeping issues to address, including adding three new titles to the Top 100. Those should be up before the end of January. I won't announce them here, but not all are from the 2006 roster (in fact, only one is).