You may have noted my inexplicable absence for the past couple weeks. I apologize for this disappearance, but the shameful fact is, I simply felt like I needed a break.
For a long time now, going to the movies has felt like “work,” given that I operate under a deadline and, in an effort to have something topical to write about, I often must see films that I would otherwise have no interest in wasting my time with. In many ways film has simply become part of my increasingly grueling daily grind, particularly during times where that half-hearted trip to the theater represents the only new cinematic experience I’ll have during a week. Frankly, it’s depressing.
The goal of this column has always been to spread the word — in an entertaining, informative and honest manner — of worthwhile movies that you should devote your time and money to pursuing. Ideally, the column would simply function as a long-winded “Hey, you gotta see this” rant and I would never have to report on a bad movie again.
With the exception of instances where I’m attempting to warn readers away from stinkers that everyone else is lavishing with wild acclaim (e.g. “Million Dollar Baby,” “Atonement,” “Avatar” and countless other frustrating examples from over the years that I’m tempted to rattle off but won’t), I don’t see the point in reviewing bad movies. The vast majority of the time, you already know they’re bad. I already know they’re bad. (Or, more accurately, I strongly suspect as much and — lo and behold! — am proven correct about 90 percent of the time. I may film-snob myself into neglecting a worthwhile flick every now and then, but I like those odds.) You may enjoy some of the choice jabs I get in from time to time, but I’m the one who has to see the things. And to be blunt, I’m sick of it.
It is in this spirit of spreading joy and good will that I retire as the News-Sentinel’s weekly movie reviewer. However, I enjoy this soapbox far too much to let it fall by the wayside, or into the hands of a writer with bad film taste and grammar to match. The column shall continue, albeit in a slightly altered form. As per my agreement with the powers that be, I will no longer be expected to report on one new wide-release film each week (a format I’ve tried to adhere to over the years, with varying degrees of success). Instead, my contributions will be more sporadic — perhaps every other week on average, with columns being more prevalent in the summer, holiday and awards seasons, and less regular during … well, times like this.
I will also have more freedom to cover international and otherwise “arthouse” fare, should I choose. I hate driving out of town to see a movie as much as the next hard-working, clock-watching American, but the cinematic universe extends beyond Lodi and Stockton. It extends beyond movie theaters as well (by now, I’m sure you’re familiar with my theory that in 10 years time “going to the movies” will be a purely social event reserved for teenagers and miscreants), which is why I’ll also offer up a retrospective from time to time -- a random “you gotta see this” recommendation based on my recent film viewing, usually to pair with a first-run review or a commentary. And who knows? Maybe this approach will free up some time to finally get the long-abandoned Battle Royale movie blog off the ground.
Rest assured that this is not a farewell column. Nevertheless, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank those of you who have remained loyal readers over the years. It’s always a pleasure to meet you or hear from you via email, and your words have always been quite encouraging and very much appreciated. Thanks as well to those who have sent hate mail (trust me, they are legion), as I always get a kick out of movie-related arguments — and hey, at least it shows they’re reading the column, love it or hate it. In any case, I hope you’ll all continue to keep an eye out for me, as we’ve still much to discuss. In the meantime, happy viewing. And, as always, thanks for reading.
Jason Wallis is a News-Sentinel copy editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.