Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Welcome to You Talking to Me 2.0

The ratings are gone. One of the things I knew needed to happen while rereading every post I have ever written for this space is that the ratings had to go. It feels like liberation. I can beathe again.

Back in March 2012 when I came up against a brick wall (personally, mentally, physically) and pondered whether or not it was worth continuing a film blog, especially one I had grown unsatisfied with, one of the very questions swirling around in my mind was whether or not writing reviews even interested me any more. Had they, after so many years, begun to overshadow the love of film that got me into this in the first place?

For most of my (unprofessional) career, the review has been my method of choice. I could do snippets, capsule reviews or even drive a particularly inspired piece into the thousand word range. And then, one day, I just didn't care. The Joseph Conrad quote rang out in my mind: "Write because you have something to say not because you want to say something." And with that, I was done.

I thought I was dead, but then, upon further thought, realized I was just lost. Looking back at all of these crazy brain droppings I had left here over the past two years I noticed two things: some of the pieces provided valuable and insightful musings on how the individual relates to cinema as an art form and some of them were just plain nonsense.

I can't continue to say I stand behind everything I've written before today (or at least in the form it is written). Some of it, maybe most of it, is still true, but that Mike Lippert was one struggling to define himself through a never ending stream of movie consumption. It was about not only always having an opinion but always, in more cases than not, having the right opinion dammit. I'm proud my name's on all of it. I'm not sure, however, if it's still an accurate reflection of me. Alas, here is also the birth of Mike Lippert 2.0. The two are, after all, in a perfect world, one in the same.

Rereading I was surprised to find how much of myself there really was in the pieces without ever really knowing it. On my time off away from film writing my musings were (and still are) deep and varied: life, art, spirituality, friendship, romance, independence, positivity and, maybe most important, being oneself. And then I read the opening paragraph to my Tree of Life review and was almost bowled over to find the sketches of my entire new worldview right there in it's infancy. I was there, buried just under critical pretensions. Profound (at least to me) and yet compact and readable. God good film writing gets me going.

And then the review just got in the way. The one thing I found, above and beyond all, is that whenever I started to flip over into review mode, whatever greatness I may have had going on in my mind was pushed off to the side. And that's why the ratings had to go. I'm more important than the movies. The ratings were often arbitrary and in no way a reflection of what the writing was actually about: a reflection of my own personal experience. Some men build look at the stars. Some search the deserts for answers. Me, I turn to the cinema. You Talking to Me is a reflection of my findings.

And so the blog had to change, not drastically, but it needed a new personality and needed to be inspired by the films that inspired me to create it. It needs to be more personal but also funnier and, for the first time, gasp, uncensored, all while maintaining the format I have built over the years. My personality bridges the gap between several ways of thinking (film scholar, industry insider, satirist, cultural critic, movie geek etc.) and so this space, at it's best, will be alive with humor, insight, criticism and observations surrounding all kinds of movies, all filtered through and tied together by the one constant: me.

That's is, after all, the one thing I know better than anyone else.

Mike Lippert, October 16, 2012.


  1. Glad to have you back.

    It's interesting, just as you are banishing star ratings from your world, I am adding them to mine, and I'm not sure it's a good thing.

    Your (temporary) departure from the film blogosphere about coincided with my introduction to www.letterboxd.com. If you haven't discovered it, you have to be invited but I can send you an invitation. (You may not want to, however, when you hear what I have to say about it.) Like many film sites I'm sure, it allows you to keep a running diary of the movies you see and give them reviews and star ratings, as well as network with others. Something about the design of it just pleased me on a basic level, so I decided to dive in and add the last 10 years worth of movie viewings I've been keeping, in order, and then the list of all the movies I saw before that ten-year period started. It was mostly meant as a backup for my Microsoft Word document in which I have the order I've watched movies recorded.

    Of course, I could not escape the temptation to assign star ratings, something I had never done before on a regular basis. So now, as I'm watching a movie, I'm obsessed with trying to determine what star rating I might give it -- even from when the movie is only in its first act, and you really have no idea how much you might like it.

    Plus then I tend to agonize about what star rating to give. I find myself giving way too many 3.5- and 4-star (out of 5) ratings, having decided that 3 stars means I only barely enjoyed watching the movie. If that's my standard, then 2.5, 2, 1.5, 1 and .5 are almost too many different gradations for movies that are not very good.

    Anyway, I don't mean to make this comment an epic meditation on star ratings, and originally started writing it just to welcome you back. And to say I'm glad you've seen the path toward writing about film in the way that serves you and reflects who you want yourself to be.

    Now, if you'll just send me whatever patch you slapped on your right shoulder to stop the cravings for star ratings, I'll be all set ...

  2. Mike, I guess you just want total freedom to let your stream of thoughts and feelings about a film flow totally free and wild- interesting idea. Sort of like giving a white water rafting review. We'll see how it turns out.