I will be taking a hiatus from reviewing movies. But do not be alarmed! The hiatus will only last for the month of January.
You are still alarmed? Please do not be. I did some checking. Of all the films I’ve reviewed (almost 1,900 now), 42 percent have gotten a grade of B or better. But of all the films I’ve reviewed that premiered in January, only 11 percent have scored B or better — and not one has gotten an A or A-. (Many very good films open in December in select cities and then spread out in January, so you might think they are January premieres, but they are not. They are December premieres, and are usually reviewed in December.)
January is the dumping ground. Movie attendance is generally low anyway, what with the holidays over and the money gone and the sense of “now we have to get back to real life” taking over America. So the studios perpetuate the cycle by releasing their lamest films in January, and hence January is the optimal month to take a hiatus, if a hiatus must be taken.
And I do believe a hiatus must be taken. I’m not getting burnt-out, particularly, but I have been frustrated lately by another problem. There are many, many films I have never seen, including quite a few that by all rights I SHOULD have seen. I would love to watch these movies — but when I’m reviewing six or seven new releases a week (plus performing my various other gotta-pay-the-bills duties), when is there time to pop in a DVD and watch something just for pleasure?
So I’ll still be watching a lot of movies in January — they just won’t be the new releases invading your local theaters. I’ve made a list of movies I want to see, and I’ll be Netflixing them throughout the month, and then in smaller doses throughout the year. I’m really looking forward to it.
Will I write reviews of these older movies? Most likely not. I might blog about the process now and then. But one of the purposes of the hiatus is to give myself a break from writing movie reviews every day. Writing takes a lot of time, and the whole point here is to spend less time writing and more time watching movies. Besides, honestly, what could I possibly have to say about “MASH” (1970) that has not already been said?
“In the Dark” will continue to be published. It will have the DVD release info and box office scores and everything else, along with reviews of any new releases that I happened to have screened before Jan. 1, or that I was assigned to review by Salt Lake City Weekly, where I am a contributor. (That’s how the occasional January premiere might slip in.) And I’m going to the Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 18-28), as usual, and will do my customary daily reportage from there.
So all is not lost. On Friday, Feb. 2, everything will be back to normal. Not that February is much better for movies than January, but hey, I’m sure you’ll want to know what I think of “Ghost Rider,” i.e., how bad it is.