You know what I need? More projects to keep me busy.
So what, exactly, is the Motion/Captured Must-See Project?
It’s my attempt to permanently answer one of the questions I’ve been most frequently asked over the last decade or so: what movies do I need to see if I want to be a film geek?
Seems like a silly question at first, but it’s not. These days, there are more movies available to the average viewer at any given moment than ever before, and the hardest thing is knowing where to start.
Normally, my answer to the question above is, “All of them,” but that’s not really much of a help, is it?
You can spend all of your time just watching new releases, and there’s an avalanche of them every year. I saw over 300 new films last year, and I still missed a good percentage of what was released. And that gives you no sense of film history, no remove at all to help set things in a larger context. You can get a list like the AFI 100 or that “They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?” list of 1000 films or all the Oscar winners for Best Picture, and you can chip away at that. But that can start to feel an awful lot like homework. Or you can just randomly browse Netflix or your local video store (they still make those, right?) and you can end up watching nothing at all because you’re so overwhelmed by choice.
Or you can start here.
[more after the jump]
With this new ongoing series (and I mean truly and perpetually ongoing, since I don’t think there’s a finite list of films you must see), we’re putting together my own personal definitive list of the movies you must see for basic cinematic literacy. And since we aren’t about to pretend we’ve seen everything (no one has), this list may be about discovery as well.
How do you even begin a project like this?
Well, first, there’s going to be some cataloguing going on here at stately McWeeny Manor. I’ve got somewhere around 10,000 DVDs at this point, so I’m starting to enter all the titles into a database program so I can get them all sorted. And once I do that, I can break things up by category much more easily. And we can make a list of the Must-Sees to write about and titles I’ve purchased, fully intending to watch them, that I need to finally get around to actually watching to see if they qualify for the list.
We’ll have some Must-See parties here at the house and with friends and special filmmaker guests, and I hope we can even extend this to programming a few Must-See nights at a local venue like the New Beverly.
Right now, I’m recruiting a panel of advisors, people whose taste I trust even if I don’t always agree with it, to constantly help me refine and revise the list. My favorite thinkers on film. I’ll be asking them to send me lists that I can use as I shape the master list of what we’ll be writing about over the first year of this project. And you, the reader, can feel free to send in suggestions as well. Eventually, I’d like this to be a list that you can feel great about recommending to people, a real resource for film geeks.
There are movies that are not going to get full write-ups because they are what I call the “DUH” list. Movies that are so blindingly obvious that it really doesn’t serve anyone to write one more review. “Star Wars.” “Lord of the Rings.” Recent movies that were hyped to hell and back.
What we’re looking for here is the architecture, the bones that cinema is built on. These are the movies that I consider the foundation of my own feelings about film and filmmaking. And that’s not even saying that I like all the movies we’ll be discussing. There are some movies I hate or that I didn’t enjoy at all that are still essential films, important to have seen.
I loved what Quint was doing with his “A Movie A Day” column over at Ain’t It Cool, and although I’m not going to promise one new review every single day, this is going to become a major component of what you can expect to see regularly here at Motion/Captured, and I hope it becomes a springboard to an ongoing conversation about what it is that makes any movie essential.
Let’s have fun with this. Let’s enjoy it together.
With just the first three binders of movies in my collection, there’s already enough material to get us through the first year of this column, so I’ll be publishing the first big “List Of Duh” later this week as I prepare to start the reviews next Monday.
In the meantime, let’s hear your thoughts on this, and I’ll see you back here soon.
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