Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dr. Movie Critic

In some ways film critics are online therapists that aren't paid very well and whose opinion should not be taken as a real diagnosis.  Our job consists of watching movies, writing down our thoughts about them, and then posting them to the world so that a bunch of teens on Twitter can tell you how much you suck at your position (if we were truly good at our job we'd probably find a way to keep our reviews to 140 characters).  Analyzing the filming techniques, editing, music, and subtleties of acting all certainly are factors in the reviews we write.  The biggest part of our reviews happen to be our life stories though.  Since reviews are opinions we have no choice but to put ourselves into the reviews.  Why we relate (or don't relate) to a film has a lot to do with our life experiences and how we bring them to the film.

How a movie touches us and makes us relate to someone we might not normally relate to are all tied into our life experiences.  It's sometimes easy to be writing a review and realize more than halfway into it that you are actually writing about your beloved dog and how much he meant to you during your childhood until your parents had to bring him to the vet to have him put down because it was the "kind thing" to do.  Or you are writing a review for "The Social Network" and you soon realize you have just spent a majority of the time writing about how lonely you were as a child.  If you're not careful, your reviews can stop being reviews and turn into journal entries.  Heck, take it too far and you might as well just open a LiveJournal account.  However these are the personal stories that can make for the most successful reviews.
Like movies themselves it doesn't really matter how "right" you get the specifics of the review down if your readers don't emphasize with it.  Readers are going to see a movie because they want to have an emotional experience of some sort.  It doesn't really matter what experience they are looking for in particular, but they are looking for one.  If our reviews don't reflect our life experience onto the film than the review may as well be useless.  Both "Gone Girl" and "The Maze Runner" are movies that are soundly made, but just because both movies function doesn't mean they are worth watching.  If you can't emote in your writing to a certain extent this is not a job you will be good at.  If you have more Twitter and Tumbler followers than you have website readers than you might be better at blurbs than you are of well thought out critiques.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Critic on Vacation

Regardless what profession you are in you need a vacation from work.  This includes film critics.  For those of you who wonder what someone who watches movies for a living could possibly need a vacation for a invite you to read any number of posts in this blog and have a new understanding of a "dream job."  I am on vacation now but one of the problems with being on vacation is that when articles don't get written there is less traffic to my site, thus there is less money, thus...well, nothing really I just like having money.  So I figured I would take a moment to share some of the things I've been doing on vacation to at least get some eyeballs onto my site:

  • I have been spending time with family and pets.  These are the people in your life who have likely raised you and animals that serve no practical function in your life but make you feel loved none-the-less.  This is the thing people of any job should spend more time doing, but that is an article for another time.
  • Another thing I like to do on vacation is watch TV.  Since TV is another medium altogether it's easy to watch it and relax.  Thankfully FXX is currently airing a marathon for "The Simpsons" where they air every episode (plus the movie) on TV within twelve days.  Funny show, it's always on, and there's no need to write about it since hardcore fans of the show come up with much better theories then I ever could.
  • I also read.  Both novels and comics.  The novel I am currently reading is "Catch-22" (which means I'll likely have to watch the film for work when vacation is over) and I'm rereading "Dragon Ball" (of which I won't be revisiting the show anytime soon since that series clocks in well over 500 episodes).
  • Watch more of "The Simpsons" marathon.

The biggest thing I critic needs to do when he's on vacation is to watch movies and not write about them.  Watch them and not look at them like they are work.  Try to enjoy them.  Remind yourself why you love movies in the first place and deprive yourself of the actual work so that when it is time to return to the job it can be a little exciting again.  So critics do take vacations and these are at least a few of things I recommend critics do with their time.  If you happen to love sports then do whatever it is people who like sports do on vacation.  Well, there's my article to get a few of you reading this blog while I'm on vacation.  Now if you'll excuse me, they're airing the 300th episode of "The Simpsons" now!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Can a Critic Be Too Political?

If you read movie commentary of any kind chances are you read Awards Daily.  Run by Oscar guru Sasha Stone, Awards Daily (formerly Oscar Watch) is far and above the biggest Oscar commentary site on the internet.  It was one of the first blogs to seriously comment on the Academy Awards race, getting so big that opinions from the site have been rumored to sway the race in certain directions (many Academy voters read the site).  I don’t read Awards Daily anymore.  Whenever I make the occasional return to the site I’m reminded why.  It’s not because the articles are poorly written or trite (because they certainly aren’t).  It’s not that I consider her (and co-editor Ryan Adams) to ruin movies by their overanalyzing of films (can you truly overanalyze a film).  No, I don’t read Awards Daily anymore for one reason: Too much politics in their writing.  This also happens to be the subject this blog post is about.

Yes, I’m going to use Awards Daily as a punching bag here, but what I want to discuss is politics in reviews and blogging.  For the most part if you run a personal blog or website you are pretty much free to write whatever you want.  Though you may have gotten into this business to write about your lifelong passion you – like everyone else – have to return to the real world at the end of the day.  If you primarily write online (and really, who doesn’t these days) chances are you use Twitter, Facebook, and all those other social media apps.  It’s pretty easy for the world to intrude.  You’re sitting there writing your review of “Captain America: Winter Soldier” when a news article pops up on Twitter to remind you that women feel like their rights to choose are being taken away by the Hobby Lobby case.  You go back to your review and realize that for how many years we’ve gotten superhero movies we have yet to get one starring a woman (no Wonder Woman or Sailor Moon).

It’s little things like this I notice in my daily routine that can sort of sour the mood on what I’m writing about sometimes.  Do this long enough and soon you’ll want to use your voice for more than just talking about movies; you’ll want to write about movies with purpose.  This I understand because I, in many ways, watch movies to help understand the world and people better.  Some movies are more important than others and I feel the urge to say something I feel is “important.”  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  When talking about documentaries it’s hard to keep politics out of the discussion.  So yes, I understand the dilemma critics and bloggers face when there comes a time or two where you want to shout to the world what you feel is a great injustice in your eyes.

Whether it be Obama, Bush, healthcare, religion, or whatever you want it to be, once in a while you will say something about your personal beliefs that will rub someone the wrong way.  So the problem isn’t that you are going to say something at one point the question is how MUCH will you say?!  This is where things get to be a lot murkier.  This is also where we return to Awards Daily.  Sasha Stone pays for Awards Daily and thus has every right to say what she wants to say.  So in 2009 she is all for Kathryn Bigelow winning Best Director because a woman has never won before.  When “Django Unchained” wins Best Original Screenplay and Best Support Actor she’s online the next day complaining to Hollywood that only white people from the film won awards while the black people didn’t (were any of them worthy of awards in the first place?).

She always makes sure to mention that the Academy voting membership is mostly white, old men (to her credit there ARE stats to back this up, but why bring it up every other day).  She’s extremely anti-religious.  The last big thing was she wanted to see was Steve McQueen winning Best Director and Picture for “12 Years a Slave.”  Because it was her favorite film of the year, right?  Nope, she wanted him to win because it was time for the Academy to start making up for their mistreatment of black people by giving him these awards (her favorite film that year was “The Wolf of Wall Street”).

If you disagree with her on any of this in the comments she will block you on the site.  If her co-editor Ryan gets to you first he will do no less than make you feel like a bully because you have the nerve to actually DISAGREE with her!  Again, this is her site and she has every right to do this.  For me I should mention my site gets enough readers (and now YouTube viewers) that if I were to start getting political I could probably stand to lose a few readers and the results wouldn’t be felt very much.  I try not to do that though because what would that prove?  Would I gain converts?  Not likely, most people reading my site are looking for movie opinions not what I think about how Obama is handling nuclear talks with Iran…maybe if there is a documentary on the subject I can talk about that, but otherwise my readers don’t care.

I doubt many of the people who go to Awards Daily cares to get the daily dose of anti-Republican, anti-religious, militant feminist views they get.  Chances are they just want to know things like whether or not Steve Carell will get an Oscar nomination for “Foxcatcher” (Note: I can’t confirm or deny anything, but…yeah, I’d place money on that happening this year if I were you).  For me being political on your site is not about being right or wrong, it’s about respecting your readers.  You have an audience of various people from different religions, political parties, and age groups.  You most likely have Brony’s reading your site as well.  I feel that film critics should bring people together to help better understand and love film, not antagonize them because they don’t support birth control or don’t believe in that “big sky bully.”

If you want to be a film critic or blogger I feel you must use these talents to do good with them.  Write good reviews, engage is positive discussions, and use the films you watch to expand your mind.  Don’t use your site as a political soapbox.  Awards Daily does this but I think what people feel above all else when they visit sites like that (whether they agree with the author or not) is disrespected.  Most of the posts on that site are meant to make people feel bad about themselves.  If this is what you want to do then I can’t stop you.  Obviously there’s a market for it.  If there wasn’t chances are Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore wouldn’t be making money doing what they are doing.  For me though I think you are using your gifts to do more harm than good.

If you want a more streamlined example I suppose you can just think of what you feel when your Facebook friends flood your news feed with their political rants…hmm, I think I might have saved myself a few paragraphs if I had used that example instead. -_-;

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to Pick and Sort Movies

Just a little sample of how I database things.

Sometimes to keep myself entertained I play games in how I watch my movies for the day.  Granted, how good the day is largely rests on what movies I see, but on the days I don't have a screener to go to I have to rely on stuff at home.  Just to make things a little more interesting I sometimes put restrictions on what I can watch.  Today I wanted to make sure I watched a couple of Oscar nominated movies for my book (regardless how many nominations they got).  I was in the mood for something exciting so I limited my choices to action and thriller.  I also didn't want to watch something that was dumb, but sometimes that is out of my control.  What I do then is I usually browse the high rated movies on IMDB to see what people like and what they don't.  This is no garuentee that you'll stumble upon (these people listed "Fight Club" as one of the top ten best movies of all time...not a bad film, but top ten of all TIME?!).

Once I get some ideas the first thing to do is to check and see if I have it on DVD or BluRay.  Film critics tend to buy a lot of movies for review purposes that end up being tax write off's, so it's not unusual for us to sometimes have dozens of films on disk that we've never actually seen (sometimes not even opened).  I don't know how most critics sort their movie collection, but I keep certain types of films together in order of the year they were released: Best Picture Winners, Disney, Pixar, BluRay 3D, get the picture.  The most maddening group is the Criterion Collection, which I sort based on the number on the spine.  The rest I sort alphabetically.  This sort of sorting (ho ho) alone is not enough on it's own though.  The second thing I do is keep a database on my movies.

The information covers title, year, director, stars, rating, and format (typical for most people who keep movie databases).  I add a couple more options though that most people don't include: Criterion and Oscar.  If a movie has won Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary, or best film anything at the Academy Awards I put an X in the the 'Oscar' column.  That lets me know to look for the movie on my Oscar shelf instead of on the shelves of regular movies.  If a movie is a Criterion film I put the number in the Criterion column.  I didn't use to do this, but as my collection grew I found finding the Criterion movies extremely frustrating.  Unless the database indicated it was a Criterion title I could be looking for it for hours.  If I didn't number it the result would be the same.

You have to think about these things if you plan to have a big movie collection.  If you have a movie collection of at least thirty titles I think making a database is something to consider.  You might not get it very high, but it's always good to get started early so that this is a much easier project.  I started my first database when I was 12 years old and my family had over 400 VHS tapes.  It took almost a whole week to database those movies and I wish I had started sooner.  Having a database is essential for any movie fan unless you plan to buy all your movies on UltraViolet where they will be on the cloud and neatly sorted for you already.  For the record, both movies I ended up watching where good movies, I had one of them on DVD, and ironically they were directed by Michael Bay and Tony Scott, two directors I typically don't like.

Yep, some days are more interesting than others.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Process of Writing a Review - Scenes and Names

The process for how a critic writes a review varies from person to person.  I have spoken with other fellow critics and I am usually fascinated by their methods in writing.  Most of them take notepads to the movies so they can make notes about certain scenes, dialog, and other stuff that they don't want to forget when it comes time to writing their review later on.  I don't do this.  Several of these friends look at me with disbelief, as if this was am impossible feat.  I'm different from most critics in that I have Asperger's Syndrome, which presents a unique skill and a unique handicap.  The handicap is that I can't take notes and pay attention to something at the same time.  My brain will only allow me to focus on one thing at a time.  If I stopped to take a note I would have to hope that nothing too important happened during the next minute or else I would miss some vital information.  Not an ideal situation to be in when watching something like "Michael Clayton."

The unique skill this presents though is that since Asperger's is a mild form of Autism I have a much more detailed memory than most people.  That means if I make it a point to remember something I usually do.  If I forget something then as far as I'm concerned the detail probably wasn't worth remembering in the first place.  One thing that I do have trouble with though is names.  Boy oh boy do names throw me off.  It's not just movies either; I have a huge problem remembering names in real life and when someone usually says "hi Kevin" it's not uncommon for me to respond "oh...hi there" and true to avoid using the persons name until I can get a clue as to what it is.  For this I always have the IMDB movie page in the corner to reference when I need to look someones name up.

Does this mean I would have been lousy film critic before the Internet?  Not likely.  I think people use whatever tools they have at their disposal to do their job effectively regardless what time period they were born into.  If I was a film critic before the Internet I would be none-the-wiser of what I would be missing and just find other tools to use.  Besides, one thing that has been around since film criticism became a business are press releases, and those are still used today.  Chances are that's where I'd get my names.  Despite having a process that works I do wish I could take notes sometimes.  There have been a few times I have forgotten something important, wrote the review, and then have woken up later in the night realizing my mistake.  Well, no one ever claimed movie critics were movie God's when it came to information.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dealing with Writer's Block

Copyright © Bill Watterson

Film critics get writers block.  In that regard we are the same as every other writer, blogger, and Stephen King wannabe out there.  It surprises people who read my site that sometimes the reason for there being no new reviews for a month is simply because I can't think of anything to say.  I suppose I understand where they are coming from.  After all, it's not like I'm creating original works of fiction or anything; I'm watching movies and giving people an opinion on whether or not I feel the movie works.  Since everyone has an opinion on everything these days the fact that you might not know how to express it is a confounding idea indeed.  Yet it does happen and it did happen.  I write almost ten reviews a week on average (most of which never appear on the site because they are being saved for future books).  Once in awhile it gets a little...boring, to be doing this.

Summer time is especially hard because most of the movies I review are so interchangeable that each day seems to be blend into another.

  • Did I see "The Guardians of the Galaxies" two weeks ago or was it "X-Men: Days of Future Past?"  
  • I've just spent hours writing four three star reviews for average movies and they all seem to be reading the same except with different names.
  • Do I need to mention the 3D again or does it not matter this time?
  • Man, what I wouldn't give to be watching "The LEGO Movie" again as opposed to this.
These are some of the many things that can contribute to writers block for a film critic.  Sometimes one particular movie can cause a critic to stumble.  For me recently that movie was "Maleficent" (whose review I still have to publish), which seemed to talk a fine line between good and bad for so much of the film I had to see it a second time to see if I could figure out where I stood on it.  Sometimes this is a good thing as critics can re-experience things in a different light than they did the first time around and get a better idea of where they stand.  When you do that though and the movie ends up just baring working or not working after the second viewing it takes more out of you than any movie that is just outright horrible.

Getting around writers block can also be tough.  Reading other reviews from film critics you respect will either have an effect where you are inspired by their writing or deterred by their writing because you know you will most likely never be as good as them.  Sometimes all it takes is seeing a movie that inspires words of passion to break the cycle, but that can also take a long time.  Relaxing by watching movies doesn't help because your mind is almost always working (although TV can be a good substitute since that's another business you don't write for altogether).  Sometimes reading regular books can help a great deal.  To take in a story from a format you don't normally analyze to death helps a great deal.

If you're religious prayer can help.  Or you could simply write a blog post where you mull over your recent writers block.  What will this accomplish?  Not much other than the fact that it will get you to write again.  Sometimes the best medicine for writer's block is just to write about anything other than movies for a bit.  I find when I'm getting writers block I can distract myself by working on my book about growing up with Asperger's Syndrome.  I should probably also work on the last several chapters of my novel but I've had writers block on that for a couple years now.  Some of you may be reading this and wondering what the big deal is.  Seeing that most film critics are their own boss it shouldn't be too stressful to get writers block because you work with your own schedule.

This may be true but your readers will determine if you are keeping a schedule that is fitting to them.  I will still write and post my "Maleficent" review, but at this point it's not going to be much help to anyone who needed the review up during the opening weekend.  If you aren't keeping up to date with your reviews your visitors will read other peoples reviews, then they won't visit your site, and then you don't make any money because ad revenue you would normally get from those visitors isn't coming in.  While most people do this for fun to do it for a living means that you can't afford to have writers block for too long.  So if you want to be in this profession get ready to have some sort of plan in place where you can gain inspiration when you just can't find the words to share in your reviews.  Otherwise you'll never be financially stable when doing this.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The 9 to 5 of Film Critisism

One of the most common misconceptions about being a film critic is that you have an "easy job" that is far removed from the (what most people call) "9 to 5 jobs" that the majority of people work a day.  The whole concept of a 9 to 5 job is that it is a job that takes forty hours of your life every week, eight hours a day, during a time period that is considered reasonable by many peoples standards.  Many people spend the breaks during these jobs daydreaming of jobs that require less work out of them so that they have more time to do the things they want to do.  While it is true that being a film critic changes the dynamic of the 9 to 5 job a little bit, the reality of the situation is that we can actually spend more time doing our job than most 9 to 5 jobs would require.

How is this so?  Read and find out.

The good thing about answering this question is that I get to answer another one of my most frequently asked questions: How many movies do you watch a week.  Well, on average I watch two movies a day (three on a particularly busy day).  At an average of two hours a film that means an average of four hours a day can be spent watching movies.  If you factor in a five day work schedule that's about twenty hours a week.  About half of your typical 9 to 5 job, but for many this is still preferable to what they are currently doing because there's no actual work.  Granted, most people probably assume this is always the fun part of the job.  The reality is that unless the movies are good that four hours could easily feel like four hours (if not more).  For example: Last year there was a day when I had to see two movies in one day.  Those movies were "2 Guns" and "The Smurfs 2," neither of which were very good.

If I didn't have reviews to write I could have theoretically walked out midway through these movies and done something useful with my time.  I couldn't though, because watching these movies were part of my job.  So that's four hours of the day that was wasted (and I knew that I would be wasting an extra two the next day because I had no faith "Planes" was going to be any good).  After you watch the movies you need to write the reviews for them.  Now review times can vary a lot because there are some days when I'm feeling more inspired than other days, but my best guess is that when you add it all up it averages about an hour per review.  So if I'm watching two movies a day that's an additional two hours a day.  Multiply that by five and you can add another ten hours to your twenty hour week to make it a thirty hour week.  Still below the forty hours that a 9 to 5 job demands, but it's getting close to forty hours at this point.

After the reviews are written they normally need to be given a second and third draft.  Thankfully these (usually) aren't difficult as I'm just trimming and rewording certain sentences, so this only adds about a half hour for each review.  Then the reviews need to be formatted for the website.  This takes about another thirty minutes per review, which means roughly three hours each day is spent on writing, drafting, and formatting two reviews a day.  So now my daily work day is about seven hours while my typical work week is thirty five.  And please remember that these are the AVERAGE hours, so sometimes I can end up working for more than forty hours!  In fact, last Christmas there was a day when I had to view three movies in one day: "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas," and "American Hustle" (it should be noted that Christmas time is typically busier than the rest of the most other jobs).

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" was 2 hours and 41 minutes.  "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" was the shortest of the bunch that day coming in at 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Thankfully "American Hustle" (which was easily the best of the three) ended the day on a high note, but that movie clocked in at 2 hours and 18 minutes.  That's more than six hours of movie I had to watch in one day.  The fact that one of those movies was "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" seemed to be adding insult to injury, but the sad fact of the matter is sometimes you spend six hours watching movies a day and not have a single one of them worth sitting through.  Throw in the reviews and formatting and you're now looking at working overtime hours without overtime pay (I'll write an article about what kind of wages a critic these days can expect in another post in the future).

The point I'm trying to make here is not that being a film critic is a lousy job that over works you and pays very little.  I'm just trying to shatter the illusion some of you might have that this is a profession you join to loaf around, watch movies for fun, all while getting paid.  You have to watch a lot of stuff you might not want to, you can't leave terrible movies, and there's the whole writing the reviews aspect that can jumps around from being fun and easy to being difficult and time consuming.  Next time I'll talk about the process of writing reviews and what movies make for the most difficult reviews to write, but for now hopefully this gives all you aspiring film critics a glimpse at what your daily life is going to look like should you pursue this path.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to a critics screening of a big budget movie, starring an Oscar winning actress, from a Mickey Mouse organization whose name I can't disclose for legal purposes.

Days where you have to watch movies like this can make you reevaluate your life.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Boring Life of a Film Critic

This is the first post in my revised Movie blog.  This is formally where updates and random rants would be posted for my website The Movie, but I've decided to switch gears a bit because that approach wasn't working as well as I'd like.  I'm not much of an update person in the strictest sense.  With new reviews, articles, and YouTube videos displayed proudly on the front page of the main website I almost never made updates on this blog because it would be redundant to make blog posts to mention updates that people would likely notice before they got to the blog.  Most rants ended up being retooled for editorials.  That means for the longest time this blog has pretty much been here for me to occasionally say sorry when updates were slow or the website was down (which reminds me...).

I do get a lot of questions from people who want to know what it's like to have "the greatest job in the world."  While I am always happy to answer questions about my profession, I hear from enough people who are curious about what I do that really have no idea what the daily life of being a film critic entails.  They think it's all fun.  They think there's no real work involved.  Some of them look at you strange when you comment how you almost always want to do anything but watch a movie for fun at the end of the day.  Yes, being a film critic has many perks, ups, downs, and loop de loops.  It's just like any other job though.  There are times when the job isn't much fun.  Sometimes it feels like just that: A job.  There are some serious social side effects to having a job that only requires you to leave the house on occasion.

It's all very mundane stuff and most people really wouldn't find much interest in it.  Yet society is in a position where people want to be self employers, to do things they like to do for fun and get paid for it.  While film criticism as a job is becoming an endangered species this is (ironically) because the internet has given a new voice to a younger generation of people who love to write about films.  With Blogger, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter the phrase "everyone's a critic" is more true today than it ever has been.  The thrill of reading people's comments when they agree with your review is exhilarating (and the people who hate your review can be brutal).  Whether the reviews come in over 700 words or in less than 140 characters, there are more critics in the world than there ever has been before.

That doesn't mean a vast majority of the writing is good, but that there is enough of it out there to read for free that it's becoming more of a hobby than a job.  Though I don't claim to be making the Leonard Maltin money here, I do have a website that does bring in some revenue.  I have written some movie books that have become best sellers in their respective categories.  There almost isn't a day that goes by where I don't write about movies and any expenses I have when it comes to running my website is considered a business expense.  In other words I've (how kids say it these days) successfully "monetized" my site.  This is where the goal should be for many writers, but most either have no clue what goes into making their hobby a business or most don't care.  To make matters even more confusing, the internet is constantly evolving, so many people have trouble keeping up with the changing times.

I've been writing about movies since I was six years old and I've been doing so as a job for close to ten years now.  The purpose of this blog is to share my stories, my secrets, and my daily routines.  For those who want to do this for a living this blog might provide some insight into how you can aim for this to happen.  For others this may be more validation to keep your movie blogging a hobby and look towards other ventures for financial gain.  Whether you find value in what I have to say or not I do thank you for visiting and reading!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mad Holidays

While Christmas is normally a very good time for movies it's not always a good time for movie reviewers.  I know I've been neglecting my website, but I'm frustrated because it's not like I had much of a choice in the matter.  Running an online store during Christmas is possibly one of the most stressful things you will ever do.  While there is money to be made with it I wouldn't really wish this type of life on anyone.  You sell a bunch of stuff only to get e-mails that they don't want it anymore, they thought they were getting something else, they liked the item but you took too long to send it, and on and on it goes.  You sell something and hope that you don't have to refund that money after the holidays.  You cross your finger that people won't leave negative feedback and get you kicked off the site where you sell your things.

All the while I have a website with dwindling visitors because...well, because I'm not updating it.  I still managed to see most of the movies though, and I did write the reviews for them, but I scrapped a few of them because they were poorly constructed (obviously an effect because of the stress).  So I basically decided to take a deep breath, calm down, and rework the reviews one at a time.  With at least five reviews to post I can actually have an update every day while I touch up the reviews and slowly post them.  Then I can upload the Top Ten lists that are a favorite every year.  It won't be long after that and then Oscar season will be upon us, so that should give me something to write about.

Finally I'm going to be applying to join a critics guild and - if I'm accepted - means I will then be Rotten Tomatoes certified!  But right now the trick is making it fun to work on the site again.  So be patient viewers, as I essentially start over and get back into the groove of things.  I have a feeling this could be one of the best years for the site however, and I hope you'll all take the ride with me!