Announcing: Movie of the Month

I’ve had a little idea percolating in the back of my mind for a few weeks now.  I don’t know how well it’s going to work, but the preliminary discussions I’ve had with a few friends about it have been pretty encouraging.  And, seeing how it’s the first day of a new month, I figured now was as good a time as any to give it a go.

The premise: Everyone’s heard of the tried-and-true “book club” concept, where someone assigns a certain title for everyone to read sometime during the month, after which everyone in the club gets together to talk about the book – whether they loved it, hated it, slept through it, etc., as well as discuss any major themes or what have you.

Well, what if we took that concept, adapted it to be about movies, and did it online – like through a blog?  Everyone who wants to participate could be a full-fledged administrator/contributor to the site, and we would rotate responsibility for selecting a movie and leading the discussion (in other words, writing the first post and moderating subsequent comments) each month among members of the group.  And we can keep the discussion going as long as we like!

There would have to be a few guidelines.  Here are a few I thought of off the top of my head:

  1. The Movie of the Month should be selected and posted on the blog site fairly close to the first day of the new month, so everyone has plenty of opportunity to see it sometime in the next 30 or so days.  In other words, this activity is meant to be a fun supplement to your regular entertainment/artistic appreciation (or however you categorize your movie watching) habits, not a replacement for them.  We’re also only doing one movie a month out of consideration for various people’s financial situations.  And the fact that we all have other lives too.
  2. Because this blog (and those it links to) skews toward a predominantly LDS audience, we’ll each need to be sensitive to the content of the movies we’re recommending.  So, that means no R-rated movies as a matter of course.  Yes, that does eliminate a lot of potentially good films from consideration.  (See below for my reasons.)  But we’ll also need to be careful about some PG-13 movies.  There’s no clear guideline on this, but it may be safe to assume that any movie that scores a “5” or higher on any of the three metrics that Kids-In-Mind measures (sexuality, violence, language) should be approached with caution as a potential Movie of the Month selection.  And it’s okay to decline to participate in a given month if the content of the selected film is a bit much for your personal tastes.
  3. Movie of the Month selections should be limited to films already available on VHS or DVD.  In addition, these movies should already be released to video before the first day of the month in which they will be recommended to the group.  For instance, the Disney musical comedy “Enchanted” will hit store shelves on March 18, so it will need to wait until at least April before it can be a Movie of the Month selection.

I’ve already registered a new blog domain – http://movieofthemonth.blogspot.com – but there really isn’t anything there yet.  I chose to go the Blogger route mostly for ease of administration, since most of the people who read this site have Blogspot domains and are familiar with the interface.  Because I’m more of a WordPress guy, I may need a few design tips from some of you more seasoned Blogger-ers out there.

While I’m at it, here’s the first official Movie of the Month selection.  It’s Good Night, and Good Luck. from 2005.

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I’ll have a lot more to say about this film in a few weeks, of course, but here’s a synopsis for anyone who hasn’t heard of it before now:

“Good Night, And Good Luck.” takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950’s America. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. With a desire to report the facts and enlighten the public, Murrow (David Strathairn), and his dedicated staff – headed by his producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney) and Joe Wershba (Robert Downey, Jr.) in the CBS newsroom – defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and scaremongering tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his communist ‘witch-hunts’. A very public feud develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist. In this climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS crew carries on and their tenacity will prove historic and monumental.

The film was nominated for six Academy Awards in 2006, including Best Picture, Best Director (Clooney), and Best Actor (Strathairn).  Curious what all the fuss was about?  Now’s your chance to find out.  By way of information, this PG-rated film was rated 1.1.2 by Kids-In-Mind.

Alright, now to answer the big question: why am I interested in doing this?  I see two major reasons, actually.

First, there are a lot of great films out there that don’t have a lot of adult content in them, and these deserve to be recognized and promoted to a wider audience – especially Latter-day Saints and others who are trying to avoid a lot of the unsavory stuff that’s out there on the airwaves, video store shelves, and the Internet.  Professional movie critics are often disparaged for showering praises on what some people consider “high-brow,” “artsy,” or “stuffy” films.  I contend that no such category exists.  There are only movies that are the beneficiary of millions of dollars of studio marketing support, and those that aren’t – and the negative descriptors are most often applied to the movies in the latter category.  Marketing support has very, very little to do with the quality of the movie; it’s all about attracting the most people to the theater or video store to watch the movie so the studio can make money.  Often, it’s the movies that are under-promoted that are the most worthwhile; ironically, a lot of them aren’t R-rated, either.  So there’s a mountain of wonderful films that go unnoticed by sensitive film fans because all they perceive in terms of entertainment choices is what they see promoted on TV and in the newspapers.  We’ve got to change that!

(That’s not to say that “popular” or “mainstream” films are unwelcome here – not at all.  But if you’ve got a unique favorite that you think more people ought to see, then please share it!)

Now for the second reason.  I think a discussion group like this is a great opportunity for people to develop their critical thinking and communications skills.  How often have you ever thought about why you did or didn’t like a certain movie or TV program?  Was it because of the music, the cinematography, the likability of actors, or the decisions the characters made, just to name a few?  I believe we become better consumers of media when we’re able to articulate what does and doesn’t appeal to us. 

And frankly, I’m just hungry for some good discussion among reasonably intelligent people on blog sites.  Not that the “Oh my gosh I’m so glad you have a blog your kids are so cute!!!!!!!” type of comments are entirely unwelcome, but sometimes they feel more appropriate for a place like MySpace or Facebook, where the purpose seems to be connecting with other people, than a blog, which in my opinion is a place for deeper kinds of thoughts.  Maybe I’m just splitting hairs.  But that’s one reason I’d like to get the ball rolling on this.

So, what does everyone think?  Is this something we can drum up some support for?  Do you have any blogging buddies who you think would be interested in something like this?  Let me know your thoughts – yea, nay, or “meh.” 

4 Responses to “Announcing: Movie of the Month”

  1. We’re in! Good selection, too. We already have a lot to say. Looking forward to the discussion.

  2. Steve and I are in. Whether Steve will actually contribute to the blog is a different story, though. He’s not a blogger, but I’m more than happy to be his mouthpiece. We actually have that movie and have watched it. It’s been a while though, so we’ll need to refresh.

    Great idea for the blog!

  3. Great idea. We’d love to participate. On a sidenote: Most of our parents and grandparents are “still learning” how to cruise the internet and so a site like blogspot is essential to share our CUTEST BABY EVER pictures with those who don’t even know what myspace is. My parents check our blog daily but never leave comments because that is just too tricky…gotta love them!

  4. Point well taken, Baldwins. Thank you for that insight.

    To everyone: this is exciting! A snowball always begins with a few snowflakes . . .

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