A New Year Film Resolution
I'm setting off on a new film writing project, and this time, I'm at the whims of the Criterion Channel. Sorta.
Happy New Year, friends! I hope that you're rolling into 2023 as well as possible. I know for many of us, 2022 was not the best of years, and a "not the best of years" coming on after a few other years just like it. For me, while 2022 wasn't the worst of years, it was a year of struggles, and I'm happy for the struggles I'm leaving behind in it.
Those struggles came with leaving some things behind, though, and the biggest of them was time, space, and focus for writing. While I can't control what 2023 might bring, I do have at least a hand on the wheel on my intentions for the year, and what I'd like to do with the time, space, and focus, should I be able to keep it.
And so: writing.
In 2020, I spent the year going back through most of the films of 1999 – a year I always felt was one of the strongest for films – to see if I still felt it was that strong and, if so, why I did. It was a rewarding and sometimes grueling experience. Unfortunately, it was also one where the only written record of it exists on Letterboxd.
I've wanted to get back to a project like that, but one where I had a bit more flexibility as the year went on. Also, one where at least some of the writing was my own, something deeper than a review on a movie logging website that could get purchased by some random billionaire someday and turned into an openly Nazi playground. Y'know, just speaking hypothetically.
What does that mean for 2023? Well, I'm going to try something that I still don't have the details worked out for, but that I'm kicking off nonetheless.
Every month in 2023, I'll pick one collection of films on the Criterion Channel and watch everything in it. There are no rules for which collection I pick – it may be a small collection or a large one, it may be focused on a single director or an abstract concept – and I'll just go with the one that feels best to me for that month when I get there. While my reactions to individual films will stay on Letterboxd, my challenge to myself is to bring back what I took away from my time with that collection and write about it here.
I'll be kicking things off with Fernando di Leo's Italian Crime Thrillers collection that just launched. It's a smaller collection of five films, but it's by a director whose works I've never seen (or, honestly, even heard of) and in a style of film I have little experience with. Outside of a bit of time with Giallo films and a Fellini picture or three, I know almost nothing about Italian cinema of the 70s. I don't know how how these films fit into that time, or how di Leo's work influenced (or didn't, I guess!) anyone after him.
That's the journey I'll be bringing you all along on as I work through this project in 2023. Every month, a film space I know too little about and have no way of knowing what I'll come away with. Every month, a dive into what I learned, what I took away from it all.
Let's get to work.