What's Coming Up

It dawned on me this morning that in slightly more than a week, I'll be marking the second anniversary of this blog. I was sitting on the subway with Jonathan Rosenbaum's book Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons, pondering his remarks in the book's introduction about the creation of and need for canons. That, and an interview I had just done with a gifted young classical guitarist who said that what he valued about teaching was the importance of being reminded of basic and essential elements of playing technique, got me to thinking about first principles.

I can't speak for any of my colleagues and friends on this question, but I think the grind of regular journalistic criticism -- a new deadline every few days, a screening tomorrow, tomorrow and again the day after tomorrow -- makes it difficult for me to step back and look at those basic issues with any frequency. It was very different when I was teaching intro film appreciation classes to undergraduates 20 years ago; every semester meant revisiting texts and films, re-evaluating my own ideas and whatever I was gleaning from reading other critics and theorists. It's a useful exercise and one that I may have internalized sufficiently for my own purposes over more than three decades of doing this, but it never hurts to articulate the basic stuff directly. So in the next few weeks, in addition to covering whatever else crosses my virtual desk, we'll be talking about what it all means. Or something like that.