Who Am I? What Am I Doing Here?


If you’ve made it this far, it means that, just like me, you’re a movie buff.

You’re not necessarily a student of cinema, mind. You don’t necessarily know your Herzog from your Hitchcock. And maybe you confuse the two unrelated Hepburns (and if you do, seek help, immediately). But you are someone who digs kicking back on a Saturday night, tub of popcorn in hand, and losing yourself for a couple of hours in a fine piece of celluloid entertainment.

It’s probably a habit. It might even be a compulsion. And I used to be that guy.

Once upon a time, in my long-ago twenties, I’d meet a buddy from work at the local cineplex and we’d take in that weekend’s new release.

It didn’t matter if it was “She’s the One,” or “Independence Day,” we’d plunk down our $6 (or whatever it was in those days), grab an unnecessarily large Coke, maybe some popcorn (I, for one, was never without SweeTarts, the movie food of the gods), sit in a darkened room among strangers, and take it all in. For a guy on a budget, it was the ultimate in escapism.

Somewhere along the line, I lost the movie-going habit. It might have been when I dated that girl who said she didn’t like movies. Or it might have been when the demands of real life — job, mortgage, married life, child — all kicked in.

But there came a point, not too long ago, when I realized that I hadn’t seen a single film nominated in that year’s Academy Awards and that the only movies I was seeing were based on comic books or the toys my five-year-old daughter plays with. I’d had enough.

Something had to give. Something had to change. But what?

Then it came to me: We have satellite cable. Every night, hundreds of movies — many of them “The Fast & the Furious,” or something starring Jackie Chan (don’t ask me, I’m not responsible for programming decisions) — were being screened across the scores of channels for which my wife and I pay a hefty sum every 30 days.

Thus, “The Cineaste’s Lament,” was born. If you don’t know what the word means, you can always look it up here.

My plan was beautiful in its simplicity: Every night, for a year, I’d pick a movie, watch it, and then write down what I thought of it. At the end of the year, I hoped to end up with a halfway decent survey of contemporary American cinema.

When I explained my plan to my ever-patient wife, she looked at me, her eyes full of pity, her voice taking on the sympathetic tone reserved for small children and the mentally ill, and she said, “Really? Are you sure?”

I was sure. My path was chosen.

I have no ground rules for this experiment. I’m no film snob. I’m equally happy watching “Citizen Kane,” as I am “Bend it Like Beckham.”

In fact, my only rule is this: I must watch whatever’s on our satellite system on a given night. This means if I settle on “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus,” so be it. All films, after all, have their artistic virtues.

No … who am I kidding? “Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus,” is a terrible movie. It doesn’t matter that Debbie Gibson is in it.

But, hey, thanks for joining me on this adventure. It should be a ton of fun. I’ll be back soon with the first movie.

About jlmicek

I'm an award-winning journalist in Harrisburg, Pa. I also run and cook all the things.
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