Peeking Ahead

November 11, 2007
A thought by James Berardinelli

Why has ReelThoughts been limited to once a week when it used to be almost every other day?
Where have the video reviews gone?
Are you ever going to do another list like your Top 100?

Looking in my mailbox over the past few months, these are among the most commonly asked questions. It's true that 2007 hasn't been my most prolific year. I have made a conscious effort not to slow down on theatrical releases, but the impact of time constraints was felt first in the lack of video reviews then in the reduction of ReelThoughts to once per week.

The outside factor that has been impinging upon my ability to keep the site's content fresh is one of those godforsaken life changes that nearly every one goes through from time-to-time: moving. This isn't the first time I have done it, but it seems a lot more time consuming in 2007 than it did in 1994 or 2000. The reasons are numerous: the market stinks, home inspections have gotten more rigorous, and the lawyers (as usual) seem more interested in emphasizing their manhood than in serving their clients. The whole process is a massive time sink. Fortunately, the other side of the tunnel is fast approaching. My current house is "under contract" (realtor-speak for almost-but-not-quite-sold), the new one is ready to move into, and I'm in the midst of packing. By the end of November, I should be in a much better position (time-wise if not necessarily financially) that I am currently.

The move will shave 100 minutes off all trips to movie screenings. Since I typically see 3-4 films per week, I will suddenly be in possession of 6 hours of extra free time. That's enough for one video review per week plus about three more ReelThoughts. My near-term goal is to provide new content on every day except Sunday. (I need one day for vegetation.) There will be a new video review every Saturday. There will be ReelThoughts four times per week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. New reviews will flow as they do today, Monday through Friday.

There will be a pattern to ReelThoughts. Every Tuesday will feature a discussion of the week's DVD releases, including a pick of the best one(s). Every Friday will summarize the new theatrical releases. Monday and Thursday will be "open" days when I will discuss whatever ideas pop into my head. The columns may be a little shorter and/or less focused. Forcing myself to write at least 700 words can sometimes turn this column into a chore.

There is another list coming some time in 2008. This one will be significantly shorter than my Top 100 and will focus on the other end of the spectrum. Instead of calling it my Bottom 10, I'll refer to it as "Ten Movies that Almost Made Me Turn My Back on the Cinema as a Viable Means of Entertainment." Or something like that. One of the ground rules will be that every title on the list must have had a theatrical release, so that eliminates the wonderful world of direct-to-DVD titles. (All are not bad. In fact, some are quite good. But the watchable ones are in the minority.) And, yes, there is a "classic" to be found somewhere on the list. Some of you reading these words know what it is. Don't bother e-mailing; I won't answer the question now.

This is roughly the first anniversary of the Great Advertising Experiment. It has not been without hiccups, most of which were related to tedious flashing ads that implied great riches for those who clicked on the banner or wanted the reader to believe that he/she was the 999,999th person to visit the site. Those ads have been banished, hopefully forever. If something really bothers you, don't hesitate to let me know about it. While I generally don't take action based on one complaint, if I get a number of them, I will do something. My goal with advertising is to generate some money from this reviewing endeavor, not to chase readers away.

I will admit to being somewhat baffled by the vitriol and outrage expressed by some "loyal" readers when the ads started. I could understand their annoyance if this was a pay service but it is still a free website. I do what I can to keep the ads tame and in good taste. For example, I could make a lot more money by including pop-ups, pop-unders, layer ads, and ads with quasi-adult content. I have avoided all of those things because I think they cheapen the site. However, I have been open in admitting that if I lose my day job and therefore need the money, there will be pop-ups and pop-unders but still no half-naked women. I don't mind looking at them but there are plenty of readers who do.

So look for an upsurge of content starting in December. And for next week's ReelThoughts, I'll return to one of my favorite topics...