I returned to the film blogosphere this morning playfully scrolling through my blogroll with that eye-opening first cup of coffee. My blogroll is sorted alphabetically so first stop was the top link, 100 Films, a blog penned by Lucas McNelly, a multitalented, proudly indie filmmaker and film blogger. His site features insightful film reviews and updates about his own film projects such as his latest, Gravida (2007). Reading on I discover that Lucas received a "Thinking Bloggers Award" and was charged with extending the same to five other bloggers he considers worthy of the designation. Turns out the writer of Film of the Year is one of them:
Also not writing about crappy horror films (well, at least not yet) is Thom Ryan over at Film of the Year. Starting all the way back in 1909 (earlier?), Thom is methodically working his way through film history, writing a thoughtful, educational post about one film per year. He's already up to 1936's Sabotage. If you're gonna jump on the Thom Ryan bandwagon, now's the time to do it, because he's starting to write about films you've heard of. But if you're lucky like me, you can always say, "Man, I used to read Thom back when it was 1909." We call that film snobbery for the indie aesthetic.
My humble thanks to Lucas. Over the past year this blogging tradition has gone from weekend project to weekly preoccupation to always-on-my-mind obsession. Admittedly, I had selfish reasons for starting the project, but sharing these articles with the film blogosphere is more rewarding than I ever expected. The amount of regular readers here vastly exceeds my expectations and I savor the helpful feedback I receive; I value online relationships that have developed with fellow bloggers like Mike (goatdog) Phillips, Squish Lessard, and others; taking part in Adam Ross' Friday Screen Test and working out a blog style guide for film titles with Andy Horbal (and Lucas too if I recall) was fun; seeing my posts featured in places like GreenCine Daily is especially rewarding. Now it's my turn to spread the Thinking Blogger's Award meme.
If you accept the award and choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging:
1) If, and only if your blog is one that is tagged on my list below, you must write a post with links to five other blogs you like that consistently make you think (hence, the Thinking Blogger’s Award).
2) Link to this post so people will know whose good idea all this was.
3) Proudly display the “Thinking Blogger Award” logo with a link to the post you wrote.
I'll display the award logo and carry on the meme because anything that encourages thoughtful writing and increases the exposure of thinking bloggers is heartily endorsed here. Now for the tough part: No, not tagging five bloggers that consistently make me think, but selecting only five. I can double that number for sure, but I'll follow the rules this time. Below I've tagged five bloggers for the Thinking Bloggers Award meme.
You're not likely to read a blog that makes you think more than Girish Shambu's eponymous site. Girish is the film professor I wish I had in college because I would've taken every one of his classes and probably become a film major myself. By posing stimulating questions and offering new ideas about film theory, film history, and filmmakers, Girish's blog offers a more scholarly discourse that isn't reserved for academics—something rare in the film blogosphere. I sometimes get the notion that he posts a thesis and then the rest of us collaborate to write a response paper by commenting. That's the reason Girish deserves this award: I learn something about the art and science of cinema every time he posts, both from the author himself and from those of us responding to his latest topic.
Even the title of Jennifer MacMillan's blog makes you think. Jmac's ode to experimental film and video was one of the first blogs that attracted my attention when I closed my eyes, held my breath and cannonballed into the film blogosphere about a year ago. Though a "Thinking Bloggers Award" might conjure up images of something bookish and analytical, Invisible Cinema is poetic and artistic, an alternative to all of those blogs filled with formal film analyses, canonical lists, technical details, movie stars, audience reaction, and box office figures. You might discover a poem, original film, book excerpt, or hand painted frame. This is thought-provoking blogging for the right side of your brain; something as welcome as it is refreshing. Jmac put her blog on hiatus in the spring to devote more time to poetry and other pursuits, but when she returns from time to time she gently inspires us to think about cinema in alternative ways.
Hell on Frisco Bay
At Hell on Frisco Bay Brian Darr covers the large number of cinema and cinema-related events in his stomping grounds, the San Francisco Bay Area, and also encourages us to think about things as disparate as international film festivals, air quality standards, and public transportation. He hosted the Friz Freleng Blog-a-Thon, an event that got me thinking about the history of screen animation enough to write about it a few times. He's a generous writer who regularly contributes insightful comments on this blog. I look forward to his responses more and more because just when I feel like there isn't more to say about a film or filmmaker Brian will post a comment that unpacks a whole new set of ideas. A thinking blogger indeed.
The Evening Class
Few bloggers can out-perform San Francisco-based author Michael Guillén. Not only is the author of The Evening Class one of the most prolific writers I've come across in the blogosphere, but his work is consistently of the highest caliber in terms of technique, content and style. I've been faithfully reading his work since we crossed paths at the Avant-Garde Blog-a-Thon, marveling at his developing interviewing skills and his proficiency with language. His output makes me think about how to improve my own writing. I once commented that he communicates more in a single sentence than I do in a whole paragraph (in fact, he'd probably have this piece finished by now). When Michael accepted a position at SF360 I feared we might lose his unique presence in the film blogosphere. I should've known better; his blog is active and as excellently written as ever.
Just as I've tagged bloggers who I've been reading for some time I also want to include one who's relatively new—at least to me. Though I've only recently discovered Chris Cagle's scholarly writing about post-war films at Category D his blog is one that makes me think the most. Dubbed the 1947 Project, the blog was created to service his research into the history of the social problem film. I find I lurk there rather than post comments because Chris presents his ideas very clearly and illustrates them with multiple specific screen grabs. A film blogger of the most learned variety, Chris inspires a more rational and carefully constructed analysis from those of us outside the academy.