January 12, 2006

State of the Union

After suffering through Cameron Crowe's reprehensible Elizabethtown with my dad, the two of us equally unmoved by its disingenuous, inarticulate pantomime of mourning for the Crowe avatar's dead father, I jokingly promised to take his urn sightseeing when the time came. Now, less than four months later, I could actually make good on that if I so desired. And that humbles me.

Needless to say, I didn't know he had cancer at the time. Neither did he. His knee was bothering him. So was his arm. Various doctors took what's best described as evasive action until it was too late. When you're 66, they tell you to suck it up, the aches and pains. I was holding his hand as he slipped away. For my birthday I went to see Hostel, and its Grand Guignol set-pieces just washed over me. I might as well have been playing tiddledywinks: no act of staged violence could ever compete with the image of the light going out in my father's eyes.

Pa, as I called him, was truly a special man. At his funeral, I found myself exchanging sympathies as opposed to receiving them, since he brought so much joy to people, and his departure leaves such a deep gorge. I intend to pay him proper tribute before time ravages my memory; suffice it to say that when I write about "Leave It to Beaver", I'm really writing about Harry Chambers--the original Ward Cleaver.

My thanks to everyone who expressed their condolences last week. The outpouring of solidarity was overwhelming in the nicest way, reminding me that FILM FREAK CENTRAL is truly a home away from home. It may take a while before the site is running like a well-oiled machine again (that is, if it ever was), but I'm so excited about some upcoming projects that it's making this transitional phase a little more bearable.

You already know we're cobbling together a companion piece to our just-published Top 10 of 2005, i.e. a 'worst-of' list that may or may not yield a few surprises. Another installment of "iViews" will follow shortly thereafter, one that's shaping up to be a keeper. While I wish we were able to update "iViews" more often, I take pride in the fact that its very infrequency has enabled us to maintain a high level of quality for what is by necessity the least ephemeral material we publish.

Last but certainly not least, this is the first year that FFC has been invited to cover the Sundance Film Festival, which means for once we won't have to rely on the sloppy seconds of TIFF, DIFF, et al. Utah correspondent/enfant terrible/fresh meat Alex Jackson will report from the frontlines, so if you have any buzz worth sharing, he's your man.

Unfortunately, even with all these pots on the stove, we may be forced to scale back on our coverage of current theatrical and DVD releases. The amount of money we earn from the site versus the amount of money it takes to run it and, well, survive is becoming increasingly disproportionate. (Perhaps only to cultivate a pointless sense of integrity, I refuse to clutter up the site with sponsored hotlinks or Google ads, not that they'd make a big difference in the long run anyway.) At the risk of guilt-tripping you, if you read us regularly, please consider purchasing the odd item through one of the site's many Amazon or PriceCompare links, tipping us via PayPal (donation links can be found at the top of most review pages), or buying our book, The Film Freak Central 2005 Annual (available @ Lulu, Borders, Amazon.com, and other fine retailers), which I'm told is a genuinely addictive read by people who were already familiar with its content.

I leave you with a direct portal to Walter's long-awaited review of Walter Salles' wonderful Dark Water--probably my 21st 'honourable mention,' for what it's worth.

Hot Off the Presses (1/13)
It's Bruckheimer Vs. Latifah. Whoever wins, we lose: Glory Road/Last Holiday. Jerry Lewis Fridays will resume next week. And Walter [insert tennis metaphor]s Woody Allen's latest, Match Point.


Lee said...


Your site is easily my favorite to visit on the web, mainly because you and Walter and Travis (and now Alex) are the most insightful and literary critics around. Even moreso, I can see your love for movies in everything you do. So now matter how much the sight skimps down in reviews or content, I'll still be a loyal reader day after day. Keep up your fabulous work!

Lee Chase IV

Walter_Chaw said...

Nice article over at ESPN.com about the factual discrepencies of Glory Road (read it here) - generally, I don't care all that much about that shit, but in this case, the errors seem to me to be particularly misleading. It's exactly the dumb Hoosiers ripper you expect it to be, but in tackling the integration of southern colleges issue, it bites off a big old nasty mouthful of something it can't chew.

Going up to Vail/Beaver Creek tomorrow to host a two-day mini-festival of David Cronenberg films. Friday will show Dead Ringers and Spider; and will cap it off Saturday evening with A History of Violence. Almost got the man himself to attend, but, alas, they're stuck with just me. Poor suckers. Am doing television and radio spots for it in the Vail Valley - but don't have info on it beyond that. There's also to be write-up in their newspaper in the morning. It might not seem like much, but it's a pretty big deal to have a retrospective like that in most cities, much less a modest little mountain town better known for skiing and hiking than film culture.

Yeah, I'm proud.

Come on up if you're in the area - the venue is an opera house in Beaver Creek and it's an amazingly beautiful place to see a movie.

Anonymous said...

Get the radio and TV spots uploaded!!

Scott Weinberg said...

Welcome back, Bill! Me and my boys will be up at Park City again this year, so tell Alex if he needs any help, just drop me an email.

Jefferson said...

Glad to have you back and blogging, Bill. Looking forward to another year of FFC. It's true, by the way -- the 2005 annual (chunky typeface and all) really is a good read, something I've found myself returning to again and again when thinking about the past year's movies. A strong job by all concerned.

Chad Evan said...

Do what you need to do, guys--cut back, whatever--as long as the place still keeps going: it's quality, not quantity, to use a cliche, that drew us all here in the first place. And I'm sure we'll all do what we can to help, fiscally or otherwise.

When I finally win the lottery, rest assured: FFC will be bankrolled for life.

sabine said...

Hi Bill,

of course you're right. You're running the ffc site without any corporate backing. I look it up daily and expect and get quality - it's the only film site I'm continously interested in.

Could you be a bit more specific about the costs? Like how much money buys you how much server space, what does traffic cost you etc. (authors' contributions probably priceless ...)

I'm on a pretty tight budget myself. It would be easier for me to be told a target sum - or realistic "subscription rate" and see what I can contribute to it.

Also: Is PayPal the only option? I don't have Visa.

Ian Pugh said...

You know, I was drawn to Film Freak Central by a review from each writer here (rather shocked that I could find them all on the same site): Bill's review of the Back to the Future trilogy, Walter's review of Mad Monster Party, and Travis' review of Reefer Madness. An odd combination but one, I think, that represents the great diversity that this site has to offer. The addition of Alex to the troupe really represents a great push off the cliff for FFC; turning it up to 11, if you will. The book is fantastic, by the by. I'm usually iffy when it comes to paying for books when even some of its material can be found online, but you guys have been the only ones for which I've ever seriously considered it -- and eventually ponied up. Keep up the good work.

Also, while Last Holiday is on our minds, might as well mention that my preview screening inexplicably featured party hats and noisemakers as audience giveaways. My audience was rather well-behaved, but really. (Oh, and no doubt that the film was set at Christmastime so that people wouldn't complain/become confused about the British term for "vacation" from the Alec Guinness original.)

Bill C said...

Humbled anew here. Sabine, literally any amount would help, but I couldn't sleep at night knowing we accepted charity from someone who could probably use some herself.

If anyone who owns the book has the time or the inclination, though, a user comment on it (or even a star rating) at Lulu or Amazon could potentially help our cause. Relieved that people seem to be enjoying it in any event. (Any alternative font suggestions, Jefferson?)

Jefferson said...

Palatino. Anna Paquin told me that's her favorite.

Bill C said...

You cunning bastard!

Jefferson said...

Preview article here on the Cronenberg film series that Walter mentions above.

Seattle Jeff said...

Walter -

Good NFL day for us today!

Hopefully we can say that again next Sunday.

Not even commericals for a new Martin Lawrence movie could dim my spirits today!

Chad Evan said...

Parlay pick of the week: Carolina plus three, over 31.

Walter_Chaw said...

Hey - 'hawks/Broncs Super Bowl. Name your stakes. I suggest you put up a can of Pacific Salmon - the good stuff - and I offer a bona fide rock from the Rocky Mountains themselves. I had a feeling about that one, man, we've beaten the Pats now 4 outta 5.