I’d firstly like to thank Nicholas for inviting me on board Club Troppo. This is not my first appearance here – some of you may recall Alison Croggon from Theatre Notes, who posted here my article on Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver in 2007 (which seems to have evaporated from Club Troppo but can be found on my Melbourne Film Blog) and my posts appeared from time to time in The Yartz section of Club Troppo’s Missing Link.
Before I posted anything, I thought I would put some context to my writing by giving a little personal background. I’m not a film critic per se, though I am a member of the Australian Film Critics Association, a professional member of the AFI and a member of the management committee of Melbourne Cinémathèque. I have been self-employed most of my working life (in transport) and re-invented myself at the turn of the millennium by going back to university and becoming qualified in IT (I work as a technical business analyst, with a particular focus on Microsoft Excel and VBA development).
I stumbled across cinema in a chance way in the early 1990s. At that time, I just went to ‘the movies’ like most people and it seemed like a good way to spend a few bucks and a couple of hours. After not too long a time, I realised that Hollywood pretty much makes just a half dozen or so different movies that repeat themselves over and over again. Different faces, same stories. And sometimes same faces, same stories. In other words, I got bored with the stuff of the multiplexes and discovered arthouse cinema. This opened up another world that included foreign language films, independent cinema and Australian cinema.
My interest and taste in cinema has evolved since that time and continues to do so. I love films as entertainment as much as anyone, but cinema is capable of so much more. Cinema as art can be profound, offer amazing insights or even be life-changing – and still be entertaining. It offers a wider experience of perspectives, ideas and cultures. It can be transgressive, political, educational and more. I respect all forms of art, but for me, nothing else comes close to cinema.
By 2006, I was posting about cinema on various internet message boards and decided to consolidate my writings in one place by blogging, and in October of that year, Melbourne Film Blog was born. At that time I thought I was behind the times and that everyone was blogging. Despite my efforts, I could only find one other dedicated film blogger in Australia, Sydney-based Matthieu Ravier on Last Night With Riviera. Shortly after, fellow Melbournian Glenn Dunks started Stale Popcorn and since then, many others have popped up, including Lynden Barber’s Eyes Wired Open, Screen Machine, Cinema Autopsy and Cinetology.
In general, I don’t feel inclined to write much about popular or blockbuster films, as these already receive mainstream coverage. I generally prefer to write about the small films that maybe only get one or two screenings at a festival (or, in Melbourne, at ACMI – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image), and often disappear without a trace. Last year I reviewed 38 films at MIFF; this year I reviewed 23 films at the French Film Festival. I’ve previewed 9 films at the Festival of German Films which is currently running in most Australian capital cities – I’ll post my reviews of these on Club Troppo shortly. I also write a weekly digest of everything I’ve seen, regardless of its genre. For me, blogging is about building community, connecting with others. The focus is cinema, but cinema opens up a world of human issues that are important to me and others. Perhaps you.