December 31... that one day of the year I've given myself permission to deviate from the standard single-title film essay format of this blog. Today marks the end of four full years of working my way through a long list of Criterion Collection films, arranged in order of their original release, a self-directed course of independent study that's generated some unexpected dividends. This blog has allowed me to make contacts with other cinema aficionados and led to new projects that give me a creative outlet to share my thoughts on these films in different ways. My Journey Through the Eclipse Series column on CriterionCast.com has been a fun weekend pastime as I collect screencaps and write an article about individual films from those sets and do my best to spark interest in that line of DVDs. The column led directly to the creation of a new podcast, The Eclipse Viewer, in which we discuss different Eclipse Series boxes as a whole. That program got off to what I consider a very successful start, but just this weekend, my cohost Robert Nishimura regretfully informed me that he's unable to continue in that role due to other commitments and priorities. So I'm in the process of reimagining what I can do with that program, since it's got some momentum that I don't want to lose.
At the same time, those other projects have seriously slowed my pace here, as the steady decline of entries on this site noted in the Blog Archive section of the sidebar so clearly indicates. I've had an informal goal of reviewing 100 movies per year, and if you count all the various places I'm contributing, I hit that mark again over the past 12 months. But my attention has been shifting away from Criterion Reflections. From 103 articles in 2009, when this project began on January 1 of that year, down to 68, then 47, and now 31 (counting this piece) in 2012... That's a bad trend line! And with Criterion making steady progress toward spine #700 in the months ahead, the prospect of me ever catching up to the newer films or even keeping pace with their monthly release schedule seems incredibly daunting, even discouraging.
So I'm at a point where it seems like some new kind of approach is necessary, one that would allow me to move through the films more quickly, and without the burden (self-imposed, I admit) of having to write reviews that are as detailed or comprehensive as those that preceded it on this blog. One solution would be to just drop a couple paragraphs here immediately after watching each film, kind of a quick take/first impression approach that frees me up from doing as much research and pondering as I typically do before I sit down to write a new entry. I may resort to such shortcuts in some instances, but I'm also interested in exploring new formats, now that I've had more experience with podcasting over the past several months. Up until now, I've been dependent on others to handle the technical side of recording and editing - my input has been limited to just talking into my headset mic on Skype. But with Robert's resignation from co-hosting The Eclipse Viewer, the responsibility falls on me to learn how to work the sound board as well. On top of that, I got a nice new smartphone a couple weeks ago (Samsung Galaxy S III) that offers a lot of potential for making short video recordings.
So that's the new thing I'm going to experiment with, here on this site and probably elsewhere too. I have a Criterion Reflections Facebook page that's been poorly utilized - basically, I've just been posting links to articles I've written or podcast episodes where I can be heard. I could do more with that... and I'm also curious to see what kind of possibilities Google + may offer, if I find the time to explore and utilize some of the social media tools that site has developed.
The fact is, if I have any serious intention (and I do) of working my way through the Criterion Collection chronologically to the point where I'm eventually taking in the newer releases as part of this long-term project (as opposed to just watching them for random viewing pleasure), I have to speed things up. Seeing these films in close proximity to other titles released contemporaneously often yields benefits of insight that I would have missed if I just popped the discs in haphazardly. But the tortoise-like progress of two or three films per month that I've settled into this year just stretches things out too long, and loses that cumulative effect.
Not only that, I have some enormously significant and substantial films coming up in my queue: Winter Light... 8 1/2... The Leopard... High and Low... Contempt... just to name a few of the heavyweights, plus many other less renowned but equally fascinating new discoveries in between. I'm really eager to engage with all of these films, and to leave some artifact of what I find in them here on this blog, while still maintaining my involvement at CriterionCast since I so greatly enjoy being part of that effort. Too bad I haven't found a way to make this a full-time paying gig! But anyway, this is what's on my mind in regard to Criterion Reflections as I wrap up 2012. Thanks for tagging along with me on this voyage through cinematic greatness.