Film Reviews for the Rainforest Mind

This blog post title is a bit of a misnomer; I’m not going to list films I think rainforest minds would enjoy seeing.

That list would probably be too huge. 

Instead, I’ll write about how watching and reviewing films has been an incredibly useful outlet for my creativity over the last 14 years.

As I’ve written about on here before, I’ve been (obsessively) writing posts on a film review blog for quite awhile. It started as a way to productively procrastinate on writing my dissertation, and ended up becoming a sanity-saver during years of new parenting, a new career, and other life changes.

(No, writing a film review blog doesn’t solve all of life’s problems, or provide any income or fame. I only have one dedicated contributor – plus a few more who pop in every now and then to comment – but that’s actually enough for me.) 

The goal with my blog is really straightforward; as I state on the “What is This Site About?” page:

In 1988 [when I was 14], I bought a copy of Danny Peary’s Guide for the Film Fanatic and since then, I’ve steadily been trying to see each of the titles listed.

In 2006, I decided to create a website where devotees of this book — and other hardcore film fanatics — could debate Peary’s selections and discuss whether or not all the titles he lists are really “must see”. I also wanted a forum for posting my own reviews for each of Peary’s listed titles, and I’m adding new ones continuously.

As someone who struggles with the challenge of too many choices, writing about every single  one of the 4300 titles listed in Peary’s book at least seemed like a way to “narrow down” my focus (!). (In a big-gulp, rainforest-mind kind of way.)

I’m ~61% of the way through the book, and if I continue at my current average rate, this project will take me another 9-10 years to finish. (We calculated this with the kids at dinner the other night.) 

Getting back to why I write film reviews – it’s taken me many years to “come out” in this way. The fact that I write reviews as a hobby has been surprisingly tough to share; admitting that I do this on top of my “job-job” and parenting has had me convinced that people might think I was using up valuable time I could/should have been spending with my kids on something as “frivolous” as movies. (Many of them bad movies – oh, so bad.)

Over the years, however – as I’ve gone to therapy and continued to make peace with my own complex self – I’ve come to understand what so many parenting experts have said for years: parents must take care of themselves to be any good for their kids.

In spite of this advice, there’s a pervasive sense of self-sacrifice and overwhelm in most parenting circles I’ve seen, with a seemingly endless list of ideas one could be trying out.  The irony – really, it is ironic – is that if you try TOO hard to “focus on parenting’, you end up doing your kids (and yourself) a disservice.

In contrast, being a reasonably happy, sane, creatively fulfilled mom goes a long way towards helping me stay an effective parent for the long haul. I’ve seen evidence of that.

So, while my kids do their online gaming or schooling or whatever else they’re involved in, I take care of the many details of our lives, AND I write reviews. (Which means watching films. That’s a side benefit of this hobby.)  I keep a massive checklist (of course), categorize the films I’ve seen or have yet to see by multiple different variables (?!?!), and feel a little bit better each time I check one more off.

Whenever I need a grounding reminder of something NOT RELATED TO REAL LIFE, I head over to my site and read my own reviews, or scroll through my lists.

It’s soothing. It’s self-regulating.

And even if I don’t completely understand why I enjoy this so much, I do – that’s reason enough.

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