January 25, 2013

Top 5 Movie Resolutions for 2013 and Beyond


On Monday, I'll reach the grand age of 37 and nearly mark the end of this blog's second full year. Bear with me, it's time for some soul searching! When I started Public Transportation Snob in early 2011, I didn't have a clear sense of what it would be. I'd been writing about movies for a long time, but my style felt stale. This site gave me the opportunity to try different types of writing and focus on blind spots in my movie background. Looking at 2013, we'll be having our second child in late March. It's a really exciting time at home, and movies won't be the top priority. Even so, this doesn't mean that I'm going to shutter the blog. Instead, I've been spending more time pondering what I really enjoy doing.

Most of us are doing this for fun, but it's easy to get trapped into meeting a schedule or seeing "required" films. I don't feel like this leads to the best content or personal fulfillment. While I'm sticking with my current format in general, the overall mindset will be looking for ways to stretch myself creatively. With that approach in mind, I've put together this list of resolutions for 2013 and beyond. These aren't concrete goals that are easily measured and represent more of a "mission statement", to quote Jerry Maguire. I'm hoping that the end result will be better writing and even more enjoyment from a pursuit that I love.


5. Focus more on depth over frequency.
I originally planned to post a few times a week, and that quickly changed to almost every day. It was inspiring to get so engaged, but 250 posts in 2012 was too much. Some pieces were about work for other sites and podcast appearances, but that's still a lot of material. Going ahead, I've resolved to focus on delivering more in-depth writing. To accomplish this feat, decreasing the posting frequency is a requirement. The blogging format makes it so easy to throw some words on the page and release it. I'm going to fight against that motivation. I'm writing rarely about new films, so speed isn't the key factor. The goal should be crafting the best pieces that I can do even if it takes more time to reach that level.

4. Expand my movie-watching horizons.
This is a standard goal that fits with my reasons for doing the blog. It's tougher in practice than it might seem, however. When it comes picking movies, I'm sometimes my own worst enemy. I watched 160 films in 2012, and only 24 were from other countries. While that isn't a terrible percentage, it's still not where I'd like to be. The much scarier number comes in documentaries, where I watched a grand total of four. That is bad news. Even though I'm scheduling the films, there is still too much emphasis on a specific type of movie. It's time to stretch out my viewing palette and toss aside my usual genres. There may be fewer journeys to outer space, at least from this country. Even so, I'm really looking forward to diving into some new territory in the upcoming months.


3. Avoid generic, predictable films.
During the past few years, I haven't caught as many films in the theaters. The benefit has been a wealth of great options every time I make that trip. This positive trend isn't always true at home, where my standards aren't as high. A recent example is the remake of Total Recall, which is dull and a complete waste of time. I spent nearly two hours in this mess a few weeks ago and regretted the lost time. I don't mind seeing a movie that doesn't completely engage me if the filmmakers are trying something original. What I'm seeking to avoid are cookie-cutter genre movies that never stretch beyond the obvious formula. Even if they cost nothing to watch, life is too short to waste on boring movies. I'm not talking about skipping big-budget films; some indies fall into the same traps. The key is to strive for originality and excitement regardless of the size or category.

2. Seek out intellectually satisfying blogs and podcasts.
The Internet offers so many options for content that it can become overwhelming for movie fans. I'll go through phases where I add and remove blogs and podcasts, and it's hard to find a balance. Instead of looking at the quantity, my goal is to truly consider what I'm getting out of each choice. I'm really focusing on podcasts, where it's easy to fall into familiar listening habits. Along with staples like Filmspotting and The Matineecast, I want to check out shows that have intellectual curiosity about movies and pop culture. The challenge is finding podcasts that can stay entertaining while providing smart material. This will require tough decisions to cut some regular shows. The ultimate goal is escaping my comfort zone, and that plan should help with the previous two resolutions. I'm also looking to read a lot more books that analyze the medium and classic films.


1. Participate more fully in the film community.
During the past few years, I've commented frequently on other blogs and made appearances on excellent podcasts. My goal is to look for ways to go beyond that standard approach. This is the trickiest resolution because there's no simple route to get more involved. Writing a movie blog makes me part of a community, but everyone has such different goals. Where do I fit within this group? I don't have an easy answer, so it's an ongoing process. I love appearing on podcasts, so that's always a priority. I've connected with so many smart and friendly people, and it's been great so far. The challenge is looking for more rewarding ways to connect with other movie fans in the upcoming year.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this list. Have you made resolutions for your movie life in 2013? You should also check out past Top 5 Lists if you've missed them.

14 comments:

  1. "Life is too short to waste on boring movies." Amen to that! These all sounds like great areas to better yourself, but I was surprised by most of them as you are one of the more in depth and thought-provoking writers I read. But if you think you can be better, then I can't wait to read what you've been holding back!

    And if you think your children are more important than your blog, you need to re-evaluate your priorities my friend.

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    1. Jay, thanks so much for the kind words. I'm fairly happy with where the blog is right now, but I still think it can get a lot better. And you're right about my priorities; revoke my movie credentials at once!

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  2. All of these sound like great resolutions! If you post less frequently then I'll just have more time in between to anticipate upcoming content :-)

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    1. Aw, thanks Lindsey. Despite the streamlining, French Toast Sunday is definitely still in my regular podcast listening. And nice job on the Best of 2012 LAMBcast!

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  3. I tell myself every year to do number 3 but I always fall in the same old traps. I just can't help myself. There's still a part of me that insists that I see Battleship but I know I'll regret it the second it starts.

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    1. Pete, I agree that #3 is probably the toughest one. I'm sure there will be a few points where I'll drift back towards those habits, but I'm hoping keeping it fresh on my mind will help to avoid the worst ones. We'll see...

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  4. Life is too short to see films that you probably know will not be interesting and/or not in your wheelhouse. Time becomes more valuable the older you get. I see a lot fewer films at age 42 than I did at age 22. (And yet somehow I saw 'Total Recall' as well!?) I have only been blogging for five months and only post about 5 to 7 articles per month, but I find it is personally more gratifying to do something more detailed (2,000-3,000 words) than the standard review (400-800 words). We'd all like to be more this and more that, but long term, I think you just need to do what makes YOU feel content and comfortable - nothing more, nothing less.

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    1. Steven, I totally agree. I may be heading that direction, though my posts might not get up to 3,000 words. I'm definitely not writing standard reviews very often, which was the main reason to set up this blog. It's still a work in progress, but your point about finding what works the best personally is the key. I feel a lot better about where I'm heading now than I did a few months back, so it's been really positive. Thanks!

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  5. "Life is too short to waste on boring movies."

    Totally. I've fallen into the same trap as you in that respect. Watching films, for almost, the sake of it. While 2 hours doesn't sound like a lot - add up all the boring and unfulfilling films I've seen, and it gets a bit scary!

    #3 echoes with me too. Though sometimes I do watch some awful, generic action film. Why? My brain needs a bit of a break.

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    1. Jaina, watching a generic action film to give the brain a rest can be fun. I think my focus is to avoid making that a regular habit. It also isn't a big deal for some bloggers who watch 400 films in a year. My number is going to be less than half of that amount this year, I think. The key is finding a balance. Thanks!

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  6. I would like to thank you for the efforts youve got produced in writing this article.

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  7. Sorry for the late response, but those are some excellent resolutions!

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    1. No problem, Nostra. Thanks! They're going well so far.

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