Thursday, February 23, 2006

The First Five Links

I'm so new to all this that it's taking me forever to catch up. But someday ... or, if I'm lucky, never. There's a certain sinuous frustration to the learning curve. Out on the net it's so easy to start moving really fast. Information overload can set in as quick as you can pop up new windows and freeze your system. I'd like to move a little slower—if no one minds—and make a point of profiling the relationships, however virtual and disembodied they might be, I'm making "out there".

GREENCINE. The Greencine Daily Blog has to be the first link I make because it has singlehandedly changed the way I read and think about film, let alone rent it. When I became a member of Greencine, I was impressed with something I had only recently learned during a month in Paris: that movies are wonderful things to learn from and about! Though some movies might just be what you're doing until you finish your popcorn, many satisfy a much deeper hunger and, in rare cases, create new hungers. Being in Paris—where going out to watch movies has not yet been taken over by staying home and watching t.v. (French television is the pits for the American tourist)—was a cinematic revelation for me. There are cinema houses everywhere, in all shapes and sizes, screening all sorts of retrospectives as well as first-runs. The very new might be just on the other side of the wall from the very old. It's fantastic and inspiring. And when I came home to San Francisco, becoming a member of Greencine was like still being in Paris. With their up-to-date festival savvy and their primers to get a handle on specific genres of film, they are my number one link!! The Greencine Daily is the first blog I log into with my morning joe. Thanks, Dave Hudson, for your enterprising vision and for being so friendly when I appeared on the scene!

The WELL. The Movies Conference on The WELL is best approached with a fully-functioning asbestos suit, but, here and there where netiquette prevails, it's a great place to shoot from the hip among others quick to draw. You certainly get your ten bucks worth to be reminded that there's just not enough room in Dodge. Host Andy Klein and frequent posters like Frances Loden, Michael Hawley, and Robert Rossney, among others, have helped to shape the way I talk about films and have certainly reminded me that it is much more difficult to talk about a film you love than one you hate. It is much more difficult to write something constructive about a film than to tear it to shreds out of easy spite. The Roman mentality of the WELL Movie Conference—it's thumbs-up thumbs-down approach—serves as a constant impetus to avoid mob criticism and to try to come up with something personal and interesting to say. It's adversarial but one of my favorites.

GIRISH. Girish Shambu's blogsite is my third link because it's the best blog forum among them all and there's a good reason for this. He's an impeccable host with kickstart ideas that get the rest of us conversing. He's not afraid to use the comment button. He is also thoroughly welcoming and friendly. I will always remember his including me into the 2nd blogathon within my first few days of joining the blog community. That was a shot in the arm for me!! As I've explored various film commentary blogsites, Girish stands out because of the visible presence of so many other bloggers there. He has made it easy for them to be there. His site feels like a clubhouse where we can all come and chitchat. This is no accident. This is his work and I admire him for it.

LONG PAUSES. By contrast I am often stunned by how little comment there is in response to Darren Hughes pellucid and poetic treatment of auteur films at his Long Pauses site. I took one look at his list and added them all to my Greencine queue (where available). There is something undeniably intimidating about Darren's writing and even I, who have made a career of hazarding the fool, pause at the comment button and retreat. But there is no denying that Darren has provided a quintessentially literate space that I feel privileged to wander around in, learning, feeling, sensing, intuiting, mythologizing, poeticizing. I look forward to adding some of the first comments to his film essays (one can hardly call them reviews).

FILM JOURNEY. Doug Cumming's website, along with Long Pauses, has helped set the bar in terms of online film commentary. The diversity of Doug's film topics, the depth to which he has examined them, the way he has set up his site for discussion, all of it is very inspiring to someone new like myself who is aspiring to join this wave of online film commentarians. Long Pauses and Film Journey absolutely motivated me to take a stab at my own blogsite, which has rapidly become a whole new way for me to enjoy film.

So there you have it!! The First Five. With more to follow (but at a slow pace).

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