Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Welcome to The Untitled George Clooney Project or 100 Films in 100 days(ish). A few months ago I felt a little bit of malaise setting in regarding the films I was seeing. To put things in context I see a fair amount of films in theaters and a greater number using my Netflix account. I'd noticed a pattern lately. Most of the titles I'd been looking most forward to were TV shows such as Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, etc. I'd been trying to have a significant number of titles be actual films, but my inspiration was waning. More often it seemed that films I had little excitement about were showing up on my queue. Perhaps films that had been languishing in obscurity finding their way to the top due to neglect. Some better than expected, some adequate, rarely anything outright bad, but in more than one instance I found myself scratching my head as to how it found its way there. And then I rented Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. This was the sort of film I should be spending my time with. I found myself wanting to go through a list of films that I was excited to see. I toyed with having a Monday Night Screening series at my house. I ran it by a couple of friends who seemed enthusiastic, but we all got busy. I thought maybe I should pick a director like Peckinpah or Altman or Ashby or Scorsese(the list goes on) and run through the complete works. But that seemed too easy to tire of. Oscar winners? Too much pretention and populism. Oscar doesn't connote quality as much as being in the right place at the right time. If you've got an awards season budget, you might be on this list. The AFI list? Similar problems. Both of these lists shared plenty of titles I'd look forward to coupled with films I would dread.

And then I remembered something I'd seen a few years ago. George Clooney had sent his friends 100 DVDs of his favorite films from what he deigned to be the best or most remarkable or something period in recent cinematic history. All but one between 1964-1976. I sought out this list and discovered I'd seen around 60 of them and among the titles were some of my all time favorites. They also had a remarkable eclecticism from splashy musicals to drama to documentaries to silly comedies to experimental foreign films to, well, you get the drift. I wouldn't have to worry about lack of shift in tone.

So here's what I decided to do. I'm going to watch all 100 films in chronological order in 100 days. Or maybe more. Probably more. It could be 200. I certainly hope it isn't 300. The number is a guideline to urge me to completion, not to enslave me to this blog. I understand that life might get in the way. I'm not going to call in sick to work for this blog. I'm not going to end my social life for this blog. If certain things cause extreme delays, well, I'll write about that. Perhaps a certain amount of navel gazing and reflection on my personal life and worldview will ensue. But I'm far too full of self-loathing to really believe something just about me would even sustain my interest, let alone yours. Maybe I've shared too much already. Anyway, here are the guidelines.

I'm not really big on rules, but I have to have some sort of approach so I know what rules to break. As stated before, I'm going to watch all 100 films in chronological order. The dates are determined by the earliest screening date as reported by IMDB. If I get some of these a little wrong, I'm not interested in having a debate over it. If somehow, they're a lot wrong, please let me know. I'm doing this almost entirely through my Netflix account, so if there are ever any delays, I may invert a couple of titles in the interest of efficiency. I'm not going to sweat seeing a film that was released in October followed by one from July if I have to. I'll be watching all of these films on a 42" 1080p plasma TV with a Bluray player. If I choose to watch any elsewhere, my rule is the technology has to be as good or better. I live in New York City where there are frequent revivals, so a screening at the Film Forum is certainly an upgrade. This would also be an example where I'd be willing to fudge the order a bit in order to have the best experience possible. But most of these screenings will be taking place in the living room of my one bedroom apartment in Astoria, Queens. I hope to have a rotating guest list of people to join me in the screenings in the interest of providing as many variables as possible. I think that does it for rules, guidelines, what have you.

I have no formal training in writing or in film history, but I am an avid film buff and I admire and consume film criticism. Perhaps the most frequent reviews I seek out are those of Roger Ebert. I was going to say apologies to Armond White fans, but Armond White's kind of an asshole. So fuck you Armond White fans. If you've ever read any Armond White, you know he can take it. I don't always agree with Ebert, but I like his writing style, and I've read enough of him to know his voice. Sometimes I'll even read a bad review that makes me want to see the film because I know his baggage. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is one of my favorite films of all time, Blue Velvet. There are those who think that film criticism can be an objective medium. But everyone brings their own baggage to criticism, be it general tastes or actors or directors we just don't care for. A good critic will recognize and cop to these biases. The ones he can recognize in himself anyway. And that's something I'll strive for, especially in the films that are my favorite or otherwise. Kubrick's one of my favorite directors. I've always thought Pollack was a bit overrated. These are just a few examples that I want to put on the table whenever possible. Hopefully, whatever personal details I share about myself as well as my worldview, such as it is, will inform my writing as well. I have a few other ideas as to how I'll frame my posts, but perhaps its best that, from here on out, I just let this project begin and define itself as it evolves. Day one is approaching.

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