I’ve been in this film criticism racket for more than thirteen years now. My cinephilia kicked in during high school (the full story can be found here) when I was first the film critic for our HS newspaper and – later – an intern at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I kept up with it while I was working on my B.A. in Film Studies at UW-Milwaukee but, as I went on to pursue a M.A. in Cinema Studies at UCLA, I found myself buried in graduate school work and left the field for a couple years, writing esoteric articles on Winsor McCay and Steven Soderbergh. But, after two years of wall-to-wall academic writing, I realized I missed criticism and I came back into the folds by writing for Pajiba and Cultural Transmogrifier (if you’ve followed me over here from another venture, thank you for reading).
I’m not a film critic by trade anymore. Professional film critics are like 35mm film screenings; they’re rare and often precious. Film criticism has become, for most and myself included, a hobby. My 9-5 is a post as a Professor of Mass Communication. I write criticism because I think my point of view is unique and because it helps me keep my academic writing accessible, a few yards away from the abyss of jargon.
This means that my work with The Moviola will reflect that. It may read as overly academic (as the commenters at Pajiba often liked to tell me), it may be read as superficial (my colleagues in academia may be expecting more), or it may be just right. I say this not to toot my own horn but to try to give you an idea of what you’re in for. If this doesn’t sound like your bag and you prefer your criticism to be the written equivalent of a blockbuster rather than an indie film, no offense taken. (For the record, I like both modes and that isn’t a value judgment. Just a metaphor.) Go and read one of our other writers.
That’s the beauty of The Moviola. We’ve assembled a crack team of smart writers with diverse interests. Our main goal is to help one another refine and nurture his or her own unique voice by supporting one another with content. The biggest lesson I learned from trying my hand at my own website was that it’s really hard to keep the interest of your reader when you only post a handful of pieces a month. This isn’t about traffic or hits or freebies or “Toldyas!” This is about keeping a lively and intellectual discussion going while one of us goes to get a drink of water.
So, what can you expect from my pieces? I’m probably going to leave Classical Hollywood to Carley and Jill and stick with New Hollywood to the present (except for TCM Film Festival, which we’ll probably all cover because that’s the venue that brought us all together) and international film. The exciting thing about Moviola is that it hasn’t been fully defined yet. It’s like filmmaking in the early 1900s; you might see an actuality, you might be blown away by A Trip to the Moon. It’s an evolving collaboration between a team of deeply knowledgeable and passionate cinephiles that we hope you will help us give shape to.