So I had this wacky idea that an ongoing movie review would be just the thing to revitalize Mott’s Ruminations.
“Hang on there, Sparky,” I hear you saying. “Mott’s Ruminations is not a movie blog, it is a writing blog.”
Indeed. But here’s the thing: It has not been any kind of blog lately and it’s high time that lapse was remedied. And my way around the Movies versus Writing issue is that I will be reviewing movies about writers, or writing, or books or whatever. (Also, it’s my blog and I can do whatever the heck I want, so there.)
I’ve gone on an exhaustive hunt for these writerly movies, the only criteria being that it has to say something about writers, or the writing life, or maybe just the redemptive power of books or writing in general. As Stephen King said in his wonderful book On Writing: “Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.” I believe this. I might add to that (forgive me, Mr. King) by saying that writing can also be a way through life, a sort of beacon of sanity we carry with us or before us or wherever it is beacons generally do their best work.
Through recommendations (thank you, Facebook Folk) and Google, Wiki, IMDb, etc., I have gleaned nearly 300 movie titles (jump to THE LIST) that someone at some point felt worthy to be added to a list of movies about writers. (Incidentally, if you are searching for a list of anything, Pinterest will seem like a godsend at first, but be ye warned: you will get lost therein. A winking Siren will beckon from a sidebar and it will be days or weeks before your loved ones smell a funny odor issuing from under your office door and enter to find your moldering corpse craned over your keyboard, some barely-lingering electrical impulse causing your finger to still tap-tap-tap at the mouse as your milky-dead eyes stare unseeing at a never-ending stream of pictures of food. I’m just sayin.)
So then, the plan is this: I’ll watch one movie per week (unless I get stuck on Pinterest) and blog my thoughts on that movie. My rating will be in quills (see what I did there?), with each movie receiving 1 to 5 quills, 5 of course being best. I will judge each movie (with a bit of commentary) based on three elements:
1) Overall quality and entertainment quotient of the movie. This will include how I felt about the acting, pacing, cinematography, etc. Basically if it was enjoyable. (A note on this: I am extremely easy on movies in general. I don’t go into a viewing expecting to hate it—if I had that mindset I wouldn’t watch it in the first place. If it entertains me on some level I’ll probably review it kindly. If it doesn’t I will stop watching and it won’t make the cut for the blog.)
2) How I feel the movie treated writers and/or the writing profession.
3) My takeaway; i.e., what I feel the movie reveals about the writing condition and what I learned from the movie (if anything) as a writer.
Any or all of the above categories may change at any time, but that’s the planned format.
A Guideline or Two: Now, this hardly seems something that should need to be addressed, but I’d like you take a quick peek at the three categories above. Notice the use of the words “I”, “felt”, and “feel”. They all point back to me, which means everything in the forthcoming blog series will be my opinion. Wait, I can do that better. Ahem. Everything in the forthcoming blog series will be MY OWN FRACKING OPINION! Why oh why do I feel compelled to point this out? Because I am constantly astonished at how simply expressing an opinion can bring out the meanness in people. “Hey, I loved so-and-so in that such-and-such movie.” “You liked that? You must be a frickin idiot, that movie was trash and I can’t believe you made it through the first ten minutes.” “Well gee, thanks, I feel better now that you’ve belittled something I had a great time with.” See what I’m getting at here? My opinion is just that: My Opinion. Just as yours is yours. Calling someone’s taste into question on anything is (in my fracking opinion) no different than calling someone an idiot because they like pickles and you don’t. In the area of critiquing art—be it movies, books, what have you—slamming someone because they like something is the height of arrogance. It basically says “I’m smarter than you and my opinions matter more.” You’re not and they don’t. I mention all this because I want to make it very clear what I AM NOT interested in, and that’s dissenting opinions. This blog series is not a debate; it is not a sounding board for you (any of you, gosh darn it) to show off your knowledge of any of the areas on which I will be judging these films. If I say someone gave a fine performance I really do not want you to give me seven erudite reasons why that particular actor sucks. I’m serious about this. It so happens I do know a thing or two about acting and directing, and a good deal more about writing, but none of that matters, because I am not trying to teach you or sell you anything. This blog is first and foremost for me; an attempt to keep my fingers limber and ruminate (ah yes) on the writer’s life. I welcome your comments but keep them civil; otherwise, I will disable comments. Sound a little petulant? As Flip Wilson would’ve said: You bet your bippy it’s petulant.
I want this to be fun, for me, for you, for us all. Be nice. Please. Okay? Okay. Enough of that.
One movie per week. I really will try to do this. If you’ve done the math, you’ve noticed that at one per week I have well over five years of material here. I’ve numbered them all, will throw them into a random number generator and let the fates decide what comes next. Each will be vetted as they come up and may well get tossed if they seem a bit too out on the periphery of writing. Even if a good deal of these get tossed I will be at this a while. I’ll try to keep it interesting and I’d be delighted if you would share it far and wide. Blogs rarely go viral and I don’t expect this one to. But that Julie chick did it with her blog about Julia Child. Which, come to think of it, is sort of what inspired this idea; an idea for a blog that has nearly unending subject matter sitting out there for the taking. So, as a nod to Julie Powell and her considerable achievement, Julie and Julia will be the first movie. Thereafter it will be random. And what a random and glorious assortment of flicks it is. From foreign to domestic, current all the way back to the ‘40s.
Oh, and in case you were wondering: Why “Scribblers on Celluloid”? Because it amused me. Scribblers indicates something done with a pen or pencil, both pretty much antiquated devices for conveying words onto paper. And who on earth uses paper anymore? Celluloid is every bit the anachronism to film as scribbler is to writing. Heck, the word film itself is nearly outdated. Celluloid went out of fashion long ago; it’s too flammable; too explosive.
Ahhh, flammable and explosive. Is there a better metaphor for gloves-free writing? I think not. I leave you with this charge: Go figuratively out into your world, to your computer or laptop, and set something on fire.