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Letter From the Editor

February: In which we go to the movies

  • 06 February 2015

Hello, it’s February.

Outside, it's colder than a ticket-taker’s smile. In the stadiums, there is no football. In the east, there is no sun. But soon, in L.A., where it’s always 72 degrees and silicone, there will be the Oscars.

So I thought we'd talk about the movies.

Every year around this time, I try to watch every Best Picture contender before the Academy Award is announced. Every year, I fail. Last year, I didn't see Nebraska, reasoning that it couldn’t possibly be as wonderfully depressing as the Springsteen album. 

This year, I’ve yet to make time for Boyhood. Ellar Coltrane ages twelve years over the course of the movie? So what, I say. I can age twelve years over the course of two glasses of wine and falling asleep with the TV on, but nobody calls it “dazzling.”

In truth, I enjoy Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke (see Predestination immediately). But when something gets 98% on the Tomatometer, it’s as if the oxygen of critical analysis has been sucked out of the room. I know I’ll enjoy it, but I probably won’t see it for years.

I speak from experience. Six years ago I ordered a DVD from Netflix, opened it, then left the little red and white Netflix slip on my TV. I moved to Chicago a few weeks later and, since I hadn’t yet watched the DVD, I packed it into the back of a UHaul truck and drove it for twelve hours across six states.

When I unpacked, I put the DVD — still in that Netflix slip — on top of my DVD player, where it promptly began gathering dust for a year and a half. When I moved back to New York, I packed up the DVD again. Again I put the DVD in a UHaul. Again, I drove it for twelve hours. And it was only then — and only because I didn’t yet have cable in my new apartment — did I watch it. That movie was Rashomon

This brings me back to movies and habits.

Here at InsideHook, our editors have started tracking what media they watch, and when. Sounds droll, is actually fun, and we owe a hat tip to Steven Soderbergh’s Seen and Read 2014 for the idea.

Our newest editor, the talented and lovely Diane Vadino, out in San Francisco, has the most robust list so far. Diane, how’s it going?

Well Steve. I am not a mindful person by nature, which means that left to my own devices I will eat nothing but Pop Tarts and watch nothing but White Collar. My baseline habits are so bad, in fact, that they necessitate a proactive solution. This means that I spend Sundays weighing out spinach for smoothies, and it means that I'm keeping a diary of my media consumption in 2015 — less White Collar, more Ida. (Well, exactly the same amount of White Collar, plus Ida.)

Because I am spectacularly goal-oriented, I’ve added a plan to watch a movie from each of the United Nations nations. So far, I’ve ticked off Poland (Ida; amazing), Sweden (Force Majeure; also amazing), the Netherlands (Wartime in Winter; good), Norway (Kitchen Stories; a-ight), France (Army of Shadows; life-changing); Germany (Barbara; amazing) and Belgium (Broken Circle Breakdown; like Blue Valentine with a dying kid) — all duly noted in my diary. I’m currently on the hunt for a really good movie from Andorra — which I will be looking for during this evening’s episode of White Collar, glad to know that my media diary will keep me honest, and ambitious.

I don't think there's any doubt about your ambition.

Now, generally speaking, I’m not a fan of data-tracking one’s life. I don’t care how many steps I’ve walked, stairs I’ve climbed or colons I’ve semi’d. But tracking what movies you’ve watched is great conversation fodder.

We’ll update you from time to time throughout the year on our progress.

Below, some of our recent articles which, if you’ll excuse me for saying so, are pretty great.

Go Easy,

@stevebryant
Executive Editor


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