Thursday, March 1, 2012

Once, Twice, Three Years A Critic

March 1, 2009.   Rick's Cafe Texan officially opened to the public, and since then I've written 544 articles (counting this one).

The majority of them have been film reviews, ranging from silent films (1915's The Birth of A Nation) to silent films (2011's The Artist).  I have covered other aspects of film.  There have been tributes both for birthdays to remembrances at the passing of people both famous and unknown.

I've had a few television reviews.  Most were on my favorite science-fiction show (and one of my few concessions to Nerdom): River Song (formerly known as Doctor Who).   However, I've also written on shows such as Heroes, Glee, some Star Trek episodes, some television movies/miniseries, Franklin & Bash (another new favorite show) and my thoughts on the Academy Awards telecast. 

In fact, the River Song (formerly known as Doctor Who) reviews managed to get a spin-off blog: Gallifrey Exile.  I haven't been as diligent on that one as I've been here, mainly because my love for the newer seasons has tapered off.   The reasons, however, are for another time.

Add to that some Private Thoughts on a wide variety of topics ranging from the various arrests of (and the subsequent disaster that is) Lindsay Lohan (aka LiLo, or La Lohan, or An Embarrassment to Western Civilization) to football player Tim Tebow

From time to time I also go into an expanse on certain topics that aren't related to the technical aspects of films but on the emotional side.  These Personal Reflections are varied, from such things as to why I found The Hangover Part II such a nightmare to Sherlock Holmes and the three actors most identified with the role (Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, and Robert Downey, Jr.).  With Benedict Cumberbatch earning fame and acclaim for his take on the detective in Sherlock, I am now working on a revised version that includes him.

I've also done a few film retrospectives.  There were retrospectives on the Harry Potter films, Planet of the Apes series, and continuing work on James Bond, Peter Pan and Star Trek films, with future plans for a Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman series.   Then there is the faltering work on The Essentials and a retrospective on every Best Picture Oscar winner.  Also, I've manage to write a monthly salute to Great Directors.

I say manage because I'm amazed at my output given that I have a job.   I am blessed with a full-time job at the El Paso Public Library, so I usually have to write my reviews before work or after.  That has led to a lot of sleepless nights, and as a result I tend to fall behind.  I could see a movie after work, then get home, and still not have had dinner and have to get ready for bed so as to wake up for work.  I could also rent or check a movie out from a library, watch it while I have dinner, but still need to go to sleep.  I then try to write in the morning but of course have to get ready for work.

All this has me with notes from movies I've seen weeks or even months ago and still not have finished my reviews.  I've felt a pressure to write about the newest releases, and in the past I would see a movie as soon as it came out.  Of course, that led to me to watch (and pay) to see such things as Daybreakers or MacGruber (and for God's sake DON'T WATCH THEM).  However, just as I have discovered the pleasures of used DVDs, I have embraced the joys (and inexpence) of second-run theaters.  Trust me, The Darkest Hour is worth one to two dollars, not eight or nine.  It is much cheaper, and a sign that the tough economic times have finally affected me.

This is important.  I've always considered this site almost as a public service.  People have less money today than they did five to six years ago, and they should use it to watch good movies.  That means people should not spend a penny on such things as Green Lantern or 2010's Robin Hood.  Of course, I also think that anything I can do to drum up support for such smaller fare as Senna or An Education is something I'd gladly do. 

I, like you, pay to see these films.  As a result, I've spent probably thousands of dollars here, and sometimes the money has been poorly used (The Hangover Part II) and sometimes I have found myself being the only person in the theater (as was the case with Countdown to Zero or the remake of Brighton Rock).  It can be a lonely job sometimes, and one negative is that it's so rare when I see a film just for the pleasure of it.

Still, this is something I enjoy, something I gain great pleasure from.  As my mother says, I do it for the love of the art.  However, on this anniversary date, I've made some decisions.

I won't review any new releases UNTIL I've caught up with all the notes from all the movies I've seen already.  So far, I've written only four reviews for 2012, but the cost of going every week is at the moment too much, plus I have a backlog I want to get rid of.  Besides, barring the Mayans I think I'll get around to some 2012 films later in the year.

I will still write not just about films but about the culture itself, a point of endless fascination for me.  Whether it is on criticizing the trend of people wearing pajamas (right down to their slippers!) in public (I'm still waiting to see someone walk into the library in a negligee), the loss of teaching cursive in our schools, or the proliferation of visible tattoos (I don't think bank tellers should have a tattoo on their neck or that 10-year-olds should get them), one thing all readers of Rick's Cafe Texan can be assured of is that this slightly cantankerous yet loving guy will always speak his mind and not censor himself (though he will work to be less wordy).

I have plenty to say about things in the culture that I find appalling.  At the top is the "reality show".  I think they are A Sign of The End of Western Civilization.  I've never seen any Real Housewives or Kardashian shows, and am terribly puzzled as to why people are so fascinated to watch others behave so boorishly.  I wonder if viewer's lives are so blank that the only enjoyment they get is by watching others make wrecks of their own.  For a while, I was embarrassed to admit I love Pawn Stars and American Restoration, but I find there's a difference. 

There is an element of 'reality show' in that both show scenes with the music and the workers appearing as 'characters'.  However, while we marvel how Chumlee stumbles and bumbles his way through life, and can laugh at Restoration's teen Tyler Dale's obvious discomfort at having to buy Kotex, at least everything they do is within the confines of work.  We don't see their lives in the bedroom (and Heaven help us if we ever did). 

This is why I'm perplexed as to why Kim Kardashian felt the need to apologize to her "fans" at the end of her 72-day marriage.  I'm not exactly sure what she has accomplished to merit "fans" (and this includes "followers" on Twitter.

I'm a fan of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.  She can play the violin better than I can.

I'm a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  He has shown a consistent quality in his film work and a large number of great performances in his career (with a few off moments).

Same goes for my not-so-secret love, Mia Wasikowska.  She is starting out, but will become a great actress and I hope a great star.  I'm not ashamed to say she will be the Meryl Streep of my generation.  Add to that the knowledge that neither Wasikowska or Gordon-Levitt have shown any visible signs of drug addiction or mental instability (always a plus for me).  How I Love This Woman...

I'm a fan of Stephen Lawhead.  His books have kept me up at night because I needed to know what happens next.

All these people have talent.  As to Miss Kardashian, apart from letting anyone watch her have sex, (which is what any porn star does for a living), has she or her sisters, brother or parents/stepparents shown that they do anything to have us care?  (No, I don't think Dancing With the Stars counts, but it's sad when doing the cha-cha merits worldwide media coverage more than say...wholesale slaughter in Homs, Syria.  That isn't as important as the end of a Kardashian marriage).

Yet, I digress.  Maybe that should be another goal of mine: not go off into tangents.  Still, as my dad says, that's part of my charm.

This day is a time of celebration.  On this the Third Anniversary of Rick's Cafe Texan, I will celebrate by doing something rare: going to the movies just for the sheer pleasure of it.  At this moment, I'm at a one-night only re-release of one of the Great Movies, The Godfather, with one of my favorite people, my brother Gabe, who is convinced he's Italian and who harbors a dream to visit Corleone, Sicily. 

OK, he's nuts, but he's a loveable nut. 

Lest I forget, I take this opportunity to thank YOU, the reader.  Whether you've agreed or disagreed with me, I am honored that you've taken time (either for personal or professional reasons) to listen in and look over my various thoughts on film and culture.  It is a great honor, one that I am humbled by.  I hope to do good work, but above all else, I really am so happy that people care enough about film to read the thoughts of some guy from West Texas, who loves film and enjoys going into long discourses on it.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.

Now, let's move on to more great movies, great discoveries in film and television.  The creative mind still works, and at heart I'm an optimist.  Join me in raising your glass to these three glorious years, and as toast, I offer the words of the great Orson Welles:


1 comment:

  1. Amen to that! I agree with catching up with older stuff. I'm stuck in the backwoods of Germany myself, so going to the cinema isn't logistically feasible a lot of the time. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of your Bond retrospective, by the way.


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