Hello and welcome to The MN Movie Man, your friendly, solo-operated, spoiler-free Midwestern blog that’s been chugging along since 2012. I almost can’t believe it’s been eight years since I gave in to pressure from my friends and family and stopped writing lengthy reviews on movie apps that nobody read to give blogging a shot.
2,000 posts and 1,200+ reviews later, I found myself tending toward being more introspective and glanced at the previous About This Blog post that I have had since the site went up on January 1, 2012. Oh boy, a mixture of wistful nostalgia and outright horror swept over me reading that self-interview I did with myself. It was all pretty me, circa 2012 with a lot of dated references (Flixster? Hello!) so I decided it was time to give this section a little update at the same time I introduced the new A-Z page for my reviews.
I think the name of this blog gives away three key things about me so we’re good on that front and for the rest of the “About” part of this page I thought it would be good to reflect on three lessons I’ve learned these past eight years as I went from movie fan/novice blogger to low-key critic with a decent following. I’m small potatoes, I know, but I enjoy being able to do what I love while avoiding some of the extra fanfare that comes with the territory.
Lesson #1 – Advance Screenings & The Press List
One of the fun benefits of being a critic on an approved press list is being invited to advanced screenings or being sent screening links for films to stream at home. It’s downright spoiling and I admit there are times when I forget that there are those that have to pay for movies…and I try to remember that when writing my reviews. Getting on the press lists in town was something I worked hard for, mostly because it pushed me to be more consistent in my writing and professional in my approach. I never take these opportunities for granted or abuse the privilege afforded to me – plus it always pays to be known as a nice person. I’m always horrified when I witness someone at a screening (even non-press) acting foolish…I’m honestly just always happy to be in the theater. The uptick in screening links to view from home has also been nice, I’ve fostered even more press relationships that way and it’s led to chances to see films I likely wouldn’t have taken an initial chance on theatrically…which has helped me in Lesson #2
Lesson #2 – Be Well Rounded
I’ve always had an interest in a wide-range of movies with few genres truly off limits in my book. (For the record, the only films I truly can’t take are those gross-out cannibal movies…everything else is fair game.) That being said, the first few years I found that I was staying in one lane with the movies I was reviewing and rarely ventured out of the mainstream. The occasional art-house film didn’t quite cut it so I made the conscious decision to divide my time with films big and small. Even if I wasn’t reviewing these movies outright, I wanted to make sure I was gathering as much knowledge as possible because it would likely help in my reviews in the future…and it surely has. I can’t understand critics (many working today in markets big and small) that don’t push themselves into new territory. How can you expect to have a fully developed vocabulary on film if you are just watching popular entertainment that everyone is talking about? If blockbusters are what you’ve built your brand on, that’s totally fine, but there’s more to film that franchises…
Lesson #3 – Own Your Own
Early on, I knew I’d be a keeping a lower profile with this blog and staying content with seeing movies and writing about them after. That’s what I like to do, after all, and I enjoy the conversations that spring from even the slightest of entertainment. The bells and whistles of being a “personality” critic don’t interest me and while I tried getting involved with interviewing and expanding into taking the blog to another level, I just don’t think that’s for me. That’s when things start to get more about the critic as a person than it does about the movies they review, and I’d rather be judged by the quality of my output. It’s been great to see my readership and followers climb every year by sticking to writing reviews and hear from people, even if we disagree. The one thing that smarts every now and then? The swag. Yes, I’m a sucker for swag and it’s a shame that studios often forget about their dedicated critics that may not be in a guild/association. Don’t even get me started on end of the year screeners…thankfully those are going away.
I’m sure there are points I’ve missed along the way and even more lessons to be learned in the future but overall these last eight years have been a rewarding experience…and I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting from time to time. Keep coming back and sharing The MN Movie Man to any/all that enjoy film…I appreciate it!
JI was a little harsh. I admire JR’s calmness.
Hey Joe- I read a few of your movie reviews and I like how you do not disclose the entire plot. I like to read movie reviews, but if I decide to go see the moive, I’d rather not know what is going to happen. Although with the current state of Hollywood movies, re-make after re-make or boring been there done that Hollywood plot lines, for the most part I know how it ends anyway so why bother seeing it. I’m disappointed in your review of “The Dark Knight Rises” clip. That’s about the only movie I’m interested in seeing this year… I hope it’s better than you anticipate, but it sounds like it might not be….
Take care- Jenny
Thanks for visiting. I think The Dark Knight Rises will be, of course, excellent. Christopher Nolan always impresses…and maybe I’m just not wanting the series to end!
Okay. Good. From the tone of your review I thought maybe it left A LOT to be desired and perhaps it did. Often teaser trailers or clips are unimpressive. I just remembered that there actually is another movie that I want to see this year: “The Flowers of War” – another Christian Bale movie (I’m a huge fan). I believe that it came out the week of x-mas, but I do not think it is showing at any theaters in MN. It may be released in CA and NY only. Have you heard any news on it?
In regards to the forlorn look you wear (J.I. or J.R.?); someone needs to tell Cage that actors can turn down roles. Drive Angry? Hint: your first clue about a solid script may actually be the title. It sounds like something written by a tailgater. Pass this along to Cage, will you, Jim? Thanks!
I really like this interview. It’s a lot more interesting then the other ‘About Me’ I have read.
Greetings, Joe! I’ve just nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award, because I genuinely enjoy reading your posts.
I totally understand that these awards are not for everyone (and you may already have it), but should you choose to accept it, here’s the link to your nomination:
I took this photo! My bestie is the BEST! No one better to connect with if you want to know anything cinema…
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Hey! I’m a student looking to go into the field of film criticism for a career because of my passion for films. I was wondering if you have a few minutes, can we set up a time for us to chat? I’d love to ask you a couple of questions about how you established your career and website. I can chat in person or over zoom/google meet.