Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Cinematic Catharsis Manifesto

Oh no, not another movie blog!  That seems to be a fair reaction, since the worldwide web is already over-saturated with other blogs covering similar ground, running the gamut from erudite film criticism ala Roger Ebert or shameless Harry Knowles-esque fanboy adoration.  They all have their place in the grander scheme of things, and I think there must be a balance somewhere.  You probably won’t find it here, though, since I intend to explore both ends of the movie blog spectrum.  Besides, to quote one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, “There’s room for one more, honey.”

I’ve had a lifelong obsession with movies that refuses to die.  Some of my earliest memories involve going to the drive-in with my family in the 70s, watching grainy images from the back seat of my parents’ white Pontiac Catalina wagon, while listening to a clunky metal speaker draped over the car window.  There was no digital 3D, no THX sound, no cushy chairs with cup holders; none of that mattered.  The movies took on their own reality, as I was held captive by the sounds and images that left an indelible imprint on my impressionable developing brain.  Whether it was James Bond saving the world again while clad in polyester, or Quint being swallowed by an enormous, malevolent great white shark, my world was shaped by cinema.

So, what’s this blog really about?  Anything I want it to be about.  It’s my blog, damn it!  Well, let me take that back.  Cinematic Catharsis is primarily about movies, but there might be the occasional tangent from time to time.  Don’t worry, I’ll be brief!

Why “Cinematic Catharsis”?  Simply put, it’s always been a release for me to escape my normal day and immerse myself in movies of all types, whether they came from the fertile imaginations of Alfred Hitchcock or Ed Wood (two directors who never won an Oscar, incidentally).  Some psychological researchers have questioned whether or not catharsis is a real effect.  Much like the whole prequel vs. original trilogy debate, I’m not going to expend much energy discussing it.  All I can speak to are my own impressions and the visceral reactions that movies have spurred over the years.  Is it a real or imagined release?  Reality or fantasy?  You decide.

You might feel prompted to ask, “So why should I trust you, anonymous blogmaster?”  Fair question.  Since this is my movie blog, I do have a few preconceptions:

You’ll undoubtedly notice my huge bias toward Sci-Fi (sorry Mr. Ellison if I offend thee) and Horror films.  Not to say that I won’t delve into other genres from time to time, but Sci-Fi and Horror are my bread and butter.  Hey, it’s my blog, and I can be biased if I want to!

Michael Bay sucks!  Two-dimensional characters, loud explosions, and grand mal-inducing quick cuts do not make compelling cinema.  He’s truly a filmmaker for this generation.

Han shot first.  End of story. …And that’s about the extent of my Star Wars related commentary.  I do not plan to engage in another exploration about why the original trilogy is superior to the prequel trilogy, or start another tirade about George Lucas raping my childhood.  It’s all been done, ad nauseam.  In fact, even though I consider Star Wars and The Empire Strikes back to be among my all-time favorites, I probably won’t say much about them because frankly I’m burned out on the whole Star Wars universe -- no thanks to Mr. Lucas, who has continued to milk the cash cow long after it’s run dry.

I tend to place a lot of emphasis on unloved films.  Some of my guilty (and not so guilty) pleasures have been movies that were not big box office successes, the head scratchers, the misfits of celluloid whose mere mentioning would induce instant elation or groans of disgust. Here’s a random sampling of titles, in no particular order:

The Adventures of Buckaroo BanzaiAcross the Eighth Dimension:  Because, no matter where you go, there you are.  A perfect alchemy of talent, a try-anything approach, and more non-sequiturs than you can shake a stick at.  It made me who I am today.

Mars Attacks! :  Arguably the better alien invasion flick of 1997.  Who knew that Slim Whitman would be the savior of humanity?

Halloween 3:  Yeah, the one without Michael Myers.  This one is probably as guilty as guilty pleasures get.  I can’t help but give them kudos for breaking the mold of the usual serial killer stalker thing, and trying to do something completely different.  Even if it did involve the bat-shit insane premise of installing microchips made from Stonehenge material into Halloween masks.  I don’t blame anyone for hating this one.  I realize that I’m on completely shaky ground here, but it’s oddly infectious.  Once you’ve watched it, just try to get the “Silver Shamrock” song out of your head.

The Abyss:  Yeah, it’s essentially “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” but I enjoyed the re-telling.  And yes, it’s chock full of dialogue that only its writer/director/producer could love, henceforth known as “Cameron Corn” (expect a future post on this topic).

The Fifth Element: Bruce Willis + orange-haired, band-aid-wearing heroine + Gary Oldman + Eurotrash aliens = Inspired Insanity.  ‘Nuf said!

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou:   I think Wes Anderson was tapping into my unconscious when he created this film.  There’s no other explanation that makes any sense.

One Crazy Summer:  An artifact of the 80s from the director of the much-beloved and far less obscure Better Off Dead. I’m sure I stand alone here, in my testament to this bit of fluff, but all I can say is, “Dog from Mars!”

So, there you go.  It’s only a mere sampling, but this gives you a good idea of where I stand and what you can expect.  If you’ve gotten this far, I can only assume that you haven’t been scared off by my miscellaneous ramblings.  Join me, won’t you, while we explore the good, the bad, and the WTF of cinema!  


  1. I say it all the time on people's blogs, and I'm gonna spout it off again...Blogspot needs a LIKE button!! This whole thing is genius, and I can't wait to read more. ;)

  2. A Manifesto (capital "M") and it's not even written on an animal skin whose origins are best left unexplored? What kind of Manifesto is that? (I'm kidding.)

    Well, it's been long overdue, but instead of just keeping up with your new posts I finally explored back through your older ones. I've also added myself as a Follower, which I usually only do after I've read a blog for a while. Thanks for becoming one of my Followers and thanks again for the Liebster Blog nomination. I'll have a post for it coming up after I do a summary one on the Best Picture nominees.

    I hadn't read this Manifesto yet when I commented on Bubba Ho-Tep, so I didn't know about your love for Buckaroo Banzai. That is another of the movies I wrote about in my Commentaries Done in Character posts. I like that movie, too.