Why another blog? Why now? And why about film? It’s simple. There’s so much to talk about. As traditional media continue to search out new manners of content delivery and interactivity on the Internet while still preserving their old business models, low-fi web sites and blogs are filling in where there’s been a certain collapse of reader dependence and trust. Direct, peer-to-peer communication is a sort of “idea Darwinism,” with bandied-about thoughts, opinion and feelings that rise to a certain critical mass helping shape public opinion and action moving forward.
And as far as pop culture, film is the nexus of this. The straightforward fact is that the enormity of movie screens and the communal nature of filmgoing — the simple act of watching with other people as the larger-than-life unfolds — reinforces our collective dreams and makes them seem attainable, if only for a fleeting afternoon or evening. After settling the latest preposterous squabble, driving the babysitter home or picking up take-out for one, we may reenter the slipstream of our seemingly pedestrian lives, but we carry with us trace elements of the belief that things can be different. It’s no pure coincidence, the degree to which film took off here as a form of popular entertainment; movies are America’s chief cultural export because their vastness, in both material and emotional scope, aligns with our sociopolitical views of freedom and opportunity.
Besides, if blogging is good enough for Dwight Schrute, it’s good enough for me.
I come from a print journalism background, and for five years served as editor-in-chief and chief film critic for Entertainment Today, Los Angeles’ oldest entertainment-exclusive free weekly publication. Hopefully, here you’ll appreciate some advance word and arguably somewhat discerning critical opinion — after all, it’s my belief that studio popcorn films can transcend the nature of their formula and touch brilliance, while deeply original and idiosyncratic works (The Ballad of Jack and Rose, let’s say) can just as easily be indulgent and masturbatory. I may, like everyone, have certain screen predilections, but I’m not a genre snob by any stretch of the imagination.
“Shared Darkness” will ideally be a repository for brief opinion on the best (and worst) of independent film, as well as tangential observations about big-budget studio fare and all the latest Hollywood trends. This doesn’t mean inflammatory gossip, alas, but there will occasionally be some off-the-record chats with well-placed industry sources (the better to preserve their candor), as well as informal interviews with writers, directors, cinematographers and the like — all in an effort to further shine a light on the often violent collision of creative process and fiscal reality that is modern filmmaking.
There will also be film set visits, DVD dissections, all manner of random explications and theories (just wait until you hear my thoughts on Cannonball Run…) and definitely plenty of recommendations on off-the-beaten-path movies both new and classic. Basically, it’s a place to further indulge my points-of-view, and hopefully enter into a bit of a discourse about both them and where you see and want to see film to go in the future. I hope you enjoy.