Thursday, February 9, 2012


I’m a procrastinator, and the Pope’s Picks online blog has compelled me to write more timely reviews.  Previously I would spend all of January and most of February writing reviews of films I’d seen months earlier in order to meet my Oscar® deadline.  At times a movie made such a minor impression I could barely recall its details from the fog of the past, and the review felt vague and unformed.  I now call each movie as I see it, when I see it, without tweaking my opinion in the afterglow of award nominations (or lack thereof) at season’s end.  For that reason I am much happier with this year’s crop of reviews, and I hope you are, too.

For the most part I have received very positive feedback.  There were a number of you, however, who thought I should make my reviews more user-friendly by providing a rating system and/or a more clear delineation of which movies I liked and which movies I disliked.  A fair (and not uncommon) comment, and one that I have pondered throughout the 25-year history of the Pope’s Picks.

Early readers of the Picks will recall that for a time I gave each movie a Rosary rating.  Most reviewers did the equivalent, so the concept made perfect sense.  Then I was given a book of film criticism that changed the way I approached reviews:  Guide for the Film Fanatic by Danny Peary.  This is a wonderful book that’s out of print.  If you can track down a copy, grab it and hold it close -- especially if you love movies.  Peary dispenses with the rating system.  His rationale for this is simple and one that I respect:  each movie he writes about is worthy of viewing – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Therefore I’ve chosen to forgo ratings to foment exploration rather than judgment when discussing movies.

I look at a movie review as the beginning of a conversation.  And I hope you will view it the same way.  If something I’ve written sparks a comment, an observation, an idea, or even strong disagreement, please do post in the comment section of the blog.  I’m always happy to keep the conversation going (now that I know how to post my own comments to your comments).

Thanks for sticking with me this far.  Thanks especially to all of you who have encouraged me and posted thoughtful comments both on the blog and on Facebook.  If you haven’t already and are interested in joining my Facebook group, The Pope’s Picks vs. The World!!, please send a request to the group and I will happily add you.  In addition to posting blog links in the group I also link to select movie-related articles that are worthwhile reads.

Finally, I must thank Michael Musa for lighting a fire under me to start this online blog and for handling many of the Facebook group logistics.  And thanks also to Nina Berry for providing on-the-fly editorial help when I call and ask, “What’s the term for the thing that does that thing?  You know what I mean.”  Because she usually does.

Over the next week or so I’ll be posting my 2011 Best of the Year list as well as my Oscar® predictions.  Stay tuned.

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