60/60 Thoughts: Part 3 (A Letter To My Readers).

Dear Readers,

With the 60/60 Project at an end, there is something I need to get out, something that spawned itself over the last year on this blog. If there is one thing I learned over the course of this past year... it's that I'm not a film critic. I'm a film reviewer. And I think there is an equal place for both in the blogosphere. But over this year, I received a lot of flak for being a reviewer instead of being a critic. I was told people wouldn't read my blog because I was reviewing films that were "beyond review" and was offering nothing new. I wasn't bringing in depth of thought and discussion. At the same time, these are the same movies that are critic-proof. So what can you say about Citizen Kane? What do say about 2001: A Space Odyssey? I fought back against these accusations with my favorite review/critique of the year, Troll 2, a tongue-in-cheek appraisal of one of the worst movies ever made.

When I started this blog four years ago, I did it because I wanted to be an everyman reviewer. I wasn't setting out to be a fantastic film critic. To me, the film critic is asking for a very specific audience: film buffs. They want to discuss the intricacies of film, why the director did something a certain way, how things connect to a much larger picture, and what it means to the life, the universe, and everything. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's just not what I do.

My purpose here has always been to bring in a general audience. It can be accessed by John Smith because he wants to know if Such-And-Such Movie is good or worth his time. And I'm not saying my opinion is the be-all-end-all opinion, either. I write my reviews in a specific format. Some have complained my reviews are dull, that I just talk about the acting, the music, the cinematography, etc. (i.e. the aspects that come together to make the film as a whole). My reason for doing so is to not only explain why my opinion is the way it is, but so the reader can formulate his/her own opinion of whether or not he/she wants to see a movie based on those specs.

I've also been recently insulted in the comments of another person's site that one offense I have committed that this person would never, ever commit is to say that I was bored by a movie or question why it was I was writing the review I was writing in the first place. (Granted, this same person also once vowed they would never, ever stoop so low as to insult me in the comments of their site... so I guess some things must be taken with a grain of salt.) But I digress. I do admit to, especially in the first half of this project, using the phrase "I'm not sure what to say" or at least something similar. I did recognize it as a flaw, and I have since stopped doing it. I've also been negatively accused of claiming a movie is too long and should be shortened. I will never, ever not say I was bored or that a movie should be shortened. And any film critics who state they have never said they were bored or that they feel a movie could use a bit more work in the editing room is a liar. It's not a sin to say a movie could be shorter in order to make it better. Even Ryan at The Matinee, who is a rather well-respected and great film critic on our side of the web, has said so himself. And just because I was bored by a favorite movie does not make me a bad reviewer. It just means we have different tastes in movies.

The purpose of the 60/60 List was to enlighten myself and fill in the gaps for classic movies of many varieties that I hadn't seen. And once I saw these films, I wrote my reviews and shared them so that you knew how I felt. If I loved them, great. If I didn't... oh well. The purpose of the 60/60 List was not to watch these films and then bring deep, insightful discussions on every piece about how they tie into popular culture and/or work as a view into societal issues. If it came up in the comments, great, I'd love to have a discussion. But that's not what I officially do here. And again, there's nothing wrong with those of you who do.

I want to wrap things up in an eloquent way... so I'm going to quote somebody else. Two people, actually. Both of these comments rather encapsulate everything I've been saying and everything I mean in this address. First up, my podcasting partner, Steve (though he wasn't at this time):

Both true criticism and reviews have their place in the world. More to the point, most people want reviews of films--they want to know if they'll like something and why.

Second, James Blake Ewing, who is a fantastic critic himself, once came to my defense saying the following:

The value of a movie reviewer is recommendation, but to suddenly place these films considered as "classic" in this pantheon where they can only be engaged under the lens of criticism is to make them infallible to the film review process.

Most people have watched a "classic" they did not care for and I think there's value in writing about why. This can help reshape the way we think about movies with the distance of time.

Does a film still hold up 40 years later? I think that's something a movie reviewer certainly should be able to do in order to give recommendations of older films as well as new ones. If these films don't hold up, perhaps its time to rethink the film's status as a classic. Therefore, I think the 60/60 reviews are a great idea.

That being said, the 60/60 Project is now over. But soon, the 50/50 will begin. The majority of that list is not of the same caliber, mind you, but the idea is the same. So if you do not like or appreciate or even "get" what it is I do here, then you do not have to read or comment. But for the rest of you, I thank you for your patience, your support, your comments, and your discussions. I hope that you continue with me into the next project and anything else I do over the course of the next year, and I hope to grow and become even better. Thank you.



  1. Sacred cows make great steaks. The truth is that any film--modern or classic--is going to be viewed from a modern point of view. When I watch something like Greed, which is a good forty years older than I am, I'm not viewing it as someone from the 1920s. I'm viewing it as me, now.

    So questions of whether or not a film holds up to a modern audience are legitimate. And if nothing else, a reviewer looking at these classics serves the function of bringing this films to a modern audience.

    I stand by the comment that most people want reviews. They want to know if something is good, or in the case of classic films, still good.

    Do what you do. If it pisses someone off, you're doing something right.

  2. Amen to all of that. Seriously.

    Don't worry, I'll be back for the 50/50 next year!

  3. You and I are in a similar situation. I fought tooth and nail against instituting a rating system on The Great Movie Project and I've been called out a few times for not having lengthy, adjective-peppered sentences. Review on.

  4. Nick, I like the way you get right to the point with your reviews. It's also cool that you're willing to call out a "classic" film if you don't think it's good. I don't always agree with you, but it's refreshing either way and fun to disagree sometimes too. It can get pretty boring if everyone writes and responds to movies the same way.

    I'll echo what Steve says about how movies are viewed from a modern viewpoint. There's no way to be entirely objective; whether it holds up is an important thing to address.

  5. Steve: I know, right? I can't look at a movie as if I lived in that time period and how it would have affected me. I'm going to see it as it holds up today--possibly not by today's standards, but at least quality of entertainment. Citizen Kane might have been revolutionary for its time... but if all the movie has going for it is its revolutionary techniques and nothing else... then I'm not gonna say it holds up.

    Stevee: Awesome! Glad to have you back. :P

    Alan: There's nothing bad about rating systems, but I think its funny you were called out on writing style. If someone doesn't like the writing style--don't read it. It's the same with novels. I don't read Stephen King because I generally don't like his style of writing. I'm not saying he's a bad writer--that would be silly. It's just not my taste.

    Dan: Indeed. I'm glad you like my style. I'm really not a non-fiction writer; I'm a novelist kinda guy. They're two completely different mediums and ways of writing, so sometimes it can be tricky to do reviews and editorials and whatnot. And like I said, it's fine if someone doesn't agree with my opinion. What bugs me is the people who come in and say my opinion is wrong and here's why (and that your opinion being wrong also makes you a terrible writer AND a bad person and/or movie lover).

  6. Hi Nick, I just stumbled upon your blog and I must say that this 60/60 Project sounds pretty cool. I did something similar myself last year where I watched 50 "must see" films and wrote about them. It got a tad hectic near the end, as it took me a while to get the project rolling, but it was an enlightening experience and brought about some fun discussions. I looked at these films from the same perspective as yourself, and you know, there were a handful of classics that just didn't do it for me (8 1/2 and Annie Hall, to name a couple). There's no harm in saying as much, as no individual is going to like every "great" film ever made. There are always going to be those who want to argue otherwise, but that's half the fun in writing about them.

    Anyway, I am glad I found your blog, and I look forward to reading some more about your project. Best of luck with this year's goals!

  7. Hi Eric! Glad to hear you like the blog, and I'm equally glad you're sticking around for more! I removed the list of films from the sidebar as the project ended, but I'll either add them to another page, or you could click on the 60 weeks 60 movies tag at the bottom of this post and it'll pull up all the reviews I did over the last year for the project (there are 100 in total). See ya around!

  8. Congrats on completing this project! I always loved the idea of the 60/60 (even if I'm crap at leaving comments), and I'm looking forward to the 50/50.

    I'd also like to second Steve's thoughts. Despite the name, "classics" don't always hold up over time. And a film can be a beautiful, masterfully crafted piece of art AND boring as all hell at the same time. You keep doing what you do.

  9. I know I'm a bit belated here so please forgive, but I just wanted to say this was such an awesome series Nick. Whether you agreed with me or not (not digging Simon and Garfunkel is suspect), it kept giving me something to come back for week in and week out. Can't wait to see your 50/50 series come to fruition!

  10. You're not allowed to not like films by Spielberg, Scorcese, Hitchcock, Polanski and Kubrick, don't you know that?!?! And even if you don't enjoy them, you're still supposed to respect the everloving fuck out of them, you hear me?


    Keep on truckin', yo. And enjoy my month!

  11. Bravo, good sir! I agree with you across the board and think there's no problem with saying you found a film boring, although, I do try to distance myself from calling a film itself boring, and also agree that plenty of "classics" could do with a bit of editing.

    Also, I just gotta say it, haters gonna hate.

    Here's to another year of Demented reviews!


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