What’s This Thing All About?

“Time-Traveling Film Critic” is, very simply, a conscious attempt to add a new approach to the field of film criticism. This is not at all an indictment of those who chose to operate in time and tested ways, but simply a choice to do things a little differently. For each review on this site, a random year in film is selected, and then a title arbitrary chosen from that year. So then. We have our movie. So let’s review it. Next time, we’ll do something else, and the whole point is we don’t know what. It could be anything, from anytime, any genre. The whole idea is to walk in to a film as cold as possible. The best examples will be when a film is tackled that is understood to be a genuine bona-fide classic: it cannot be thought of that way. It will have to prove itself.

Okay. To What End? What’s the Point?

The ultimate goal is to provide an accessible, contemporary view of all sorts of films — in essence, to blow off their dust, and not treat them as museum pieces or artifacts. Together we’ll put aside behind-the-scenes trivia, do away with unnecessary contextualizing, put the trash next to the treasures, and have each film be a standalone adventure. We will, in essence, stop talking about their legacy and start talking about how they work today as a film.

So You’re Trying To Completely Remove Context?

No. I think there are plenty of works out there that are pretty much impossible to comprehend without delving backstage, and trying to place them into a cultural and historical framework. However, I do think it is important that, in each case, as much context as possible is stripped away, so as not to get lost in minutiae.

So Are You Going to Avoid Behind-the-Scenes Details?

Well, I’ll try to. They definitely can be fun every once in a while, but if they get used, they will be as asides, not as bullet points that inform the text.

But Let’s Say You Do a Film From Something like 2005? How Do You Contemporize That?

Well, that’s part of the fun. The whole idea is to put every film we discuss on an even keel, so they will help establish a baseline against the older “classic” films and put the whole thing into perspective.

What’s That Picture From?

The Time Machine (1960) by George Pal, starring Rod Taylor.

Who Are You?

My name is Michael Henley, and I’m a screenwriter who lives jointly between Philadelphia and Los Angeles. I went to films school at Temple University in Philadelphia.

What Makes You Such An Expert?

Well, not much. Yes, I went to film school, but, no, I don’t consider myself an elitist, or significantly better informed than you, or anyone. No elitist hogwash here.

You Just Did a Film I Love And Totally Ripped It Apart! Should I Feel Personally Offended?

No, please don’t. It’s just one man’s thoughts, and it’s not a personal attack on you or anyone you know.

Is it ALWAYS randomized?

I’ll level with you: not necessarily. Sometimes I’ll enjoy the prerogative to focus on something in particular because I wish to. All I can say is I will try as hard as I can to make as many of these choices seem invisible to the overall fabric of the random-year-selection-process-thingie.

Anyone to special thank?

Thanks to Dan Master, for coming up with this idea.

Hey wait, Mr. Peabody! You’re putting up this FAQ first thing, so therefore anyone who has these questions will just look here first. Therefore, are these questions ever really asked, let alone frequently?

Quiet, you.

Can I Borrow Your Time Machine?


I’ll Give You Money!

That is not a question. But I will think about it.

What’s Your Favorite Movie?

I have a healthy dose of them. The Empire Strikes Back. Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Shawshank Redemption, City Lights, The Godfather, The General, Back to the Future, Vertigo, The Maltese Falcon, My Fair Lady, L.A. Confidential. Casablanca (of course), Alien, Rear Window. It goes on. And on. Much like this FAQ.