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State of the Blog – July 2015

June is in the books and I was about as productive here on Plot and Theme as I was in May. I published 29 posts (the exact same as in May), most of which were movie news items or reactions. I got a few reviews in, most notably my review for Inside Out, which was my most-read post from the month. However, I failed to deliver on some of the more in-depth and involved pieces that I promised. They are still in the works, I just got a little bogged-down by the daily reporting of news and trailer reactions. So, for this State of the Blog entry, I’d like to discuss a slight change in direction, as well as reach out to my readers for a little assistance in a new endeavor. Of course, I will also provide some highlights of the last month and little preview of what’s to come in the near future.

First, I’d like to get one issue out of the way: there are days where I struggle with the grind of finding relevant news items on which I feel are important enough to comment. As I have mentioned a couple of times, so much of the movie news cycle is generated from rumors or “is in talks with” type stories that at times I feel frustrated with the news items for the day. I don’t care to provide my opinion on a story that turns out to be false in the coming days or weeks, so I am going to do my best to avoid the interminable drudgery of unconfirmed casting news, script news, announced directors, and the like. Once it really looks like something is confirmed in black and white, I may offer an opinion then. Much of this news in our current environment is driven by the big blockbusters, and sometimes that gets a little tedious. Everyone and their dog has an opinion on the next Marvel movie or some new reboot, but those kinds of things are starting to tire me. I am going to try to focus on films with a slightly smaller profile for the near future. This doesn’t mean I won’t comment from time to time on some comic book movie news, though – just that I will try to spread the love to other films.

All that being said, I still had a great time this month watching movies. As I have already mentioned, Inside Out was definitely my favorite new film from June – and it probably ranks as my #1 film released this year so far, narrowly edging out Mad Max: Fury Road and Ex Machina. Pixar truly is a seminal production studio, and is one of the last remaining bastions of original storytelling left in this landscape of reboots, sequels, and adaptations. I saw the movie twice in theaters, and look forward to owning it when it is released on BluRay. The other stand-out from June was Love & Mercy, the Brian Wilson biopic. This movie was so much fun, and may have changed the way I approach watching and listening to films for the rest of my life. The effect of this film was so strong that I will likely post a longer piece analyzing its use of music specifically in the near future.

At home, nothing really stood out from June like Hunger did in May, but I did end up watching a number of solid movies. Inside Llewyn Davis and 12 Years a Slave were the two standouts this month, and those films could not be much different. Full reviews of these may appear on the blog soon, so I won’t say too much about them here, but suffice to say that I am now a Steve McQueen fan for life, and I continue to marvel at the prowess of the Coen brothers. I’d urge to you watch each of these films if you haven’t yet, and then you’ll be ready when I decide to post my thoughts. I may actually watch Inside Llewyn Davis again after my first viewing has settled a little bit and write my review afterwards.

It now feels like I am promising a lot of specific posts for July, so let me reign this in a little bit. I am still working on the United 93 piece that I mentioned in the last update, and you can definitely expect that to be completed this month. In addition to the Love & Mercy piece, I am also drafting a piece akin to the “Three Tiers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” entry, only organizing Disney animated features. Instead of grouping them according to quality, though, I am endeavoring instead to classify chronological periods of their production. Early organization suggests that I will detail, “The Six Ages of Disney Animated Features”, which is the working title – so look forward to that if you’re a Disney fan. I am also still working on a pure aesthetics post, but those are slow-going. Of course, you can also expect me to review some films released this month. My Terminator: Genisys review is already up (and very negative, ehh), and I anticipate seeing Antman and Mission Impossible for the big tentpoles, but also am looking forward to some smaller movies like the Amy Winehouse documentary Amy and the romantic comedy starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, Trainwreck.

One of the directions which I would like to begin to take the blog involves beginning to review older films. Right now, every single review on Plot and Theme is from a film released in this decade, with only the Inglorious Basterds essay coming from an older film. There are probably hundreds of films that I want to review, and I find myself struggling for a place to start, so one thing which I would like to ask anyone reading to do is leave a comment with a film or two on which you would enjoy reading a review from me. Sometimes I can’t quite tell if my readers are interested in the same things that I am, so it would be helpful to at least get a feel for the kinds of films that really stick. Absent any suggestions from you, I will probably try to put together some recurring schedule where I focus on a particular director, genre, or time period and run through those for a while until I feel like changing them up. Since basically everything that I have done so far is fairly recent, I will likely start by reviewing some classic films from the past.

I feel like June was a reasonable success, and I definitely learned that I sometimes need to step away from the grind of Superhero news reports and focus on stories that I find more interesting.   As I move forward, please leave comments on Plot and Theme posts that you read and find stimulating, even if it is just to say “I agree” or “Your an idiot, LOL!”. I love when something I write sparks an interesting discussion, especially when it results teaching me something I hadn’t considered before. Likes and shares are likewise awesome, as the more people I can trick into reading my stuff the more fun we can all end up having.

So there you have it! If you could have me review one movie from before 2000, what would you like it to be?

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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

A website

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