Other movie blogs may give you a list of their top films of the year - and actually, I'll probably do that too, but unlike a certain film critics group, I'm in no rush to reveal it to the world (in fact, I probably won't get to it for another month at least). This being WSW, however, I have something different to offer. 2011 will be the first calendar year I've completed, and naturally I have quite a number of movie-going memories, whether alone or with friends - the kind of stuff that I do my best to write about here, in this blog that's more of a personal journal than a movie blog. These are the five moments that stand out most. Unlike my usual lists, this is an actual ranking - and it wasn't easy to rank these, either.
5. Singing oldies songs with Andi at a diner before seeing The Illusionist. I think I may have gone to more movies with Andi this year than anyone else. I may not have liked all of them equally, but she's always great company. Sometimes she talks me into some nutty things (remind me to tell you of the time we sneaked into a gated community pretending we were gonna buy a house there), but that's only because she has a great curiosity about the world and isn't shy about it. Why else would she go on a cross-country hike across half of Spain covering hundreds of miles? Or sing Motown songs in a Queens diner with yours truly just because?
4. Going to Vija's party in-between movies during the Urbanworld Film Festival. This being my first film festival, I thought I could see and do it all. Boy was I wrong! Still, Saturday proved to be the busiest of the three-day festival for more than one reason, and I knew that whatever else happened, I couldn't miss one of Vija's parties which, thankfully, was within walking distance of the theater. In the close-to-twenty years I've known her, I've always enjoyed her soirees because I like her friends! Andi is just one of a number of friends I've met this way. Some of them, like Vija and I, are artists; some are co-workers or neighbors of hers; some are old friends of hers that go way back, but I've always gotten along well with them. In fact, at this particular party I met this one woman whom I would've loved to have gotten better acquainted with had I more time; we had a wonderful, but sadly, brief conversation. (I sent her a friend request on Facebook, but I don't think she uses FB much.) Regardless, this was one day I won't forget for a long time.
3. Lining up on the red carpet for the first time at the Urbanworld Film Festival. I could've had a better camera. I might've liked a slightly better spot. And I was a bit star-struck at seeing the likes of Spike Lee and Chris Rock at first. Once I settled into my unlikely role as a paparazzo, however, it was truly exciting. UWFF took place at the same time as the Toronto festival, and I admit I couldn't help making comparisons in my mind (not that I've ever been there), even though Toronto is, of course, one of the biggest film fests in the world. Still, for a film fest novice, one could hardly ask for more: a central location in the heart of New York City, a plethora of film and TV stars to meet and greet, and an all-access pass to see some terrific films. My prior experience as a comics blogger helped prepare me some - going to conventions, interviewing writers and artists - but this was something else. (The glamor of the red carpet itself was dulled for me somewhat when I saw UWFF staffers tape it down to the linoleum floor... but that was a minor detail.)
2. Hearing the Alloy Orchestra perform their score for Metropolis. In a year in which a silent movie is favored to win Best Picture for the first time in many generations, perhaps it was the best time to have discovered this astounding band, doing what they do best - playing live music for silent movies. If you're ever in NYC in the summertime, make it your business to come to Brooklyn and see a show at the Prospect Park Bandshell. For three bucks you get one helluva bargain.
1. Seeing The Captains on the Intrepid with William Shatner and hundreds of fellow Trekkies. At the risk of sounding like a gushing fanboy, I can't express accurately enough how thrilling it was to be in the presence of The Man Himself for the first time, under these circumstances. The Intrepid, like many NYC landmarks, is not someplace I ever gave much thought to actually visiting one day - as impressive as it is, it's still a tourist trap, and an expensive one at that. So this was momentous on three different levels - the movie itself (which was interesting, but more for Trekkies than anyone else, I think), having the Shat there to introduce it, and being on board the Intrepid for the first time - and all of it for free! I was gonna go with a friend, but he couldn't make it at the last minute, so the only negative about this night was I didn't have anyone to share it with, but I had a great time nonetheless.
As for the blog itself, I have a few ideas for new stuff to add and experiment with in 2012. Once the Oscar season ends, I'm thinking I might cut back to two movies a week (not counting theme weeks). Cranking out three a week isn't always easy, and I'd like to diversify the content a little better. I have Skype now, so you may start hearing me on a podcast or two here and there. I would like to start one of my own also, as soon as I can decide on a film-related topic I'd want to discuss. And I'd like to bring my original art back in some form. Alex has kinda cornered the market on actor sketches, so maybe I'll do something different. I hope you'll stick with me throughout it all.