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State of the Blog – January 2017

We’re just into 2017, and the time-honored tradition of celebrating a new year by accidentally writing down its predecessor first continues unabated.  Though the early months of the year often struggle movie-wise, there are interesting things going on.  These include a few intriguing films, the meaningless over-evaluation of Awards Season (and the vitriol it inspires), and even the beginning of the festival season.  Here at Plot and Theme, I’ll reflect backwards a bit, mention some cool things I’m looking forward to, and then set some goals for the year.

First, the awesome month (and year) that Plot and Theme had as a whole.  I really enjoyed the films I saw in December, with the exception of Assassin’s Creed, which was an absolute disaster of a film.  December films that weren’t obvious garbage included:  Loving, Fences, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, Nocturnal Animals, and The Edge of Seventeen.  Each of these was great in its own right, and many found a place on my overly-long and pedantic Top 10 List of 2016.

Also, Plot and Theme on hit 100,000 views in December!  It looked like it was going to be a stretch (especially if you check some of the older State of the Blog posts), but thanks to some awesome blips I received from search traffic, I ended up making it by the end of the year comfortably.  As always, I am so stoked that people actually care enough to click on my stuff, and even more if they actually read it.  And, for those of you who were googling, “What is the tragedy in Manchester by the Sea” only to click on my piece and realize the reason you were directed to it was because I titled it, “Kenneth Longergan’s Manchester by the Sea Devastates with Inescapable Tragedy” only to then read, “Those who want to learn details can easily look them up elsewhere”, I apologize for muddying the waters.

But that’s enough looking backwards.  This is 2017, and it is going to be monumentally different  from 2016.  Most of the exciting upcoming films in January that interest me are leftovers from limited December theatrical runs (in an  effort to qualify for the Oscars).  Hidden Figures, Silence, and Live by Night top that list, but then we also get legit January releases like Split, which at least has my interest piqued.  We shall see how it all winds up.  Finally, at month’s end, we get the meaningless but fun Oscars nominations!  I will do my part by ceaselessly offering my meandering, opinionated analysis before simply conceding that La La Land will win.

As for things you should look for, I’ve got to tell you about an exciting upcoming piece.  I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with the director of a great film that I screened early last year.  The interview will be published over on, and should appear about mid-month.  I’ll be sure to draw your attention to it when it happens.

Now, goals for the year.  First, I think it is a reasonable goal to try for another 100K views in this year alone (so, 200K by 2018).  Though it took me about 20 months to reach 100K, my pieces now have more genuine search-related traffic, and there is a significant backlog that always generates readership.  To hit 100K views for the year, I need about 274 views per day.  I currently average somewhere in the low 200’s, so it will be a stretch, but with some keen Social Media action, I believe that I can get there.

Now, for some slight changes you can expect around here.  First is the new pieces:  I will start to do off-the-cuff, shorter pieces reacting to various newsworthy things in the world of film, as I see fit.  Mostly, this will be teasers and trailers that interest me for one reason or another, but major (and confirmed) casting news, release announcements, and other such items could also fall into this category.  Expect these pieces to be about 250-300 words (so, about 1/3 the length of my usual pieces).  They are for quick opinion, news commentary, and conveying specific pieces of information for my readers who aren’t buried in the film news cycle like I am.

Next, I am going to endeavor to publish more full-length essays and aesthetics pieces in 2017.  I get into the terrible habit of writing for reviews only, and then waiting for a new movie to review.  Instead, this year, I want to be writing more or less continuously, and pepper in the reviews as they come.  It will be a challenge, but I have some tricks and techniques that I will employ to keep me focused.

Like how each month I’ll write an one essay on a film from Stanley Kubrick.  But more on that later.

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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

A website

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