Do you like discussing films?
Of course you do. And why not? Movies are more than just trifling entertainments. They are art. They are urgent communications. They’re the hard work of tireless craftsmen. They take us on tours of our dreams, and allow us to release our nightmares in a safe place. But even more than that. Movies are time capsules, and documentaries of their very making. They can be exhilarating adventures, heart-stopping dramas, romantic interludes, daring statements, and, if we are lucky, some of them become like good friends. Of course we love to talk about them. They are us.
But there is a catch to that. Movies are also in many ways collapsible universes. Once inside, they take us to a million sights and sounds, and so many wonderful characters, situations and ideas. That’s easy to experience when it’s brand new. But at some point, you have to leave and decide if you want to visit it again. And from the outside, it looks so small. Trivial. Antiquated. How many times have you seen a DVD or video on a store shelf, or even in your own home, and you’ve passed it by, dismissively? “I don’t remember why I own that. It’s probably not very good. Why bother? It’s ancient. Let’s live in the now!” Then you catch it again on cable the next weekend and rediscover a classic.
Or how about this. You see a movie on TV, just casually, and it sucks you in. It’s good! And…hey…is that a young Al Pacino? Wow! I had no idea this existed! So the next night you meet your friend, and you tell him about this wonderful movie you saw. And he says “Yeah, man. Saw it 10 years ago. It’s great. What took you so long?” End of discussion.
Or have you ever tried to talk to someone, and tell them they need to see this wonderful movie, one that is so accessible and smart, and they couldn’t care less? “It’s old!” they will sometimes sneer.
Yeah. “It’s old.”
Well, you know what? Not here.
Welcome to the Time-Traveling Film Critic. It will be an ongoing series meant to examine repertory and contemporary films, giving them equal weight via a randomized year-selection system. The ultimate goal is to make the past present, and make the present rub elbows with the past: to provide a modern lens through which to view all sorts of films, new and old alike. Instead of focusing on arcane trivia or social impact, the most important topic will be the one that matters most: how does each film work, as a film? There is only one rule: nothing is presumed classic, and nothing is assumed bad. It still could be. But it must prove itself.
Through our intrepid time-traveler, we will traverse genres, decades and cultures with the ease of pushing a button. Where will the wheel land next? What movie will our time-traveler view? And from what era? That is the question. And there will always be a new answer.
Conversations for each film are encouraged, as long as they are civil. Use your good sense, no personal attacks, and a good time will be had by all.
Our series will begin on May 2, 2010 with one of the first motion pictures ever made, Le Voyage Dans La Lune [A Trip to the Moon] (1902). A new film will appear every Sunday. It could be anything. Hope to see you with us in the future. And the past. If you have further questions, or would like to see the same questions answered with slightly different wording, you can check out the FAQ by clicking the appropriate button above.
Until then, see you around the time stream.