Fall in: The new movie season begins

September 8, 2014



Another autumn is upon us and so I’m ready to dive back into the fray.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a waiting area at LaGuardia airport in New York, getting ready to board an airplane to the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF. Writing about TIFF 2014 also serves to relaunch this website, after a summer-long hiatus to work on a documentary (which is now in post-production).

Even as I anticipate this festival, I find myself thinking about the passage of time. It happened the other day, for example, when I heard a song, in which the singer, waxing nostalgic, began a song with a line about he’d been born when disco died. And my response was: Hmmm, I think I wrote a contemporaneous story about the death of disco (and the arrival of punk).

(But then disco never really died (what, after all, is EDM except disco on steroids and Ecstasy?) and punk has been enshrined in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Times change.)

I’ve reached an age where I’ve started to think in terms of numbers of decades passed when I review certain events in my life. As in: I attended my first TIFF in 1984 – which is 30 years ago. I started working for my first newspaper four decades ago (more if I count my years as a stringer in college).

For most of that 40 years, I’ve written every day except when I was on vacation (and, even then…). This past summer was, I believe, the longest I’ve gone without writing regularly about something – anything. It took some adjustment – but not that much, mostly because I had plenty of other things to occupy me.

I felt like I picked a good summer to temporarily stop writing about movies. There wasn’t much that felt essential and, while I continued to do reviews for my magazine outlet (got to pay the bills) and see the movies I had to, there were plenty that I skipped or missed, and felt none the poorer as a result.

For one thing, most of the more worthy films – by which I mean the independent, documentary and foreign films that were released – had screened at one or another of the film festivals I’d been to in the past year. Meanwhile, the studios released a steady stream of comic-book movies, remakes, sequels and otherwise interchangeable product that made its box-office splash before disappearing from memory.

Even when I took time to catch up with movies I didn’t review but wanted to see, I found myself underwhelmed. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”? It was OK, with things to recommend it, but hardly the revelation that reviews made it sound like. I also saw Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” and was disappointed. “Guardians of the Galaxy”? Again, just OK. The rest? As I said, there was very little that I did see that stayed in the memory.

So – back into the whirlwind of the fall movie season. Work continues on my documentary so I may stick with the format I used in pre-production: putting together a weekly compilation of shorter reviews of that week’s biggest or brightest, with (hopefully) a weekly commentary or interview.

I hope you’ll keep reading.


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