Me, looking back on a time when a time when I did not know the phrase “social-distancing.”
When I wrote my New Year’s resolutions in January, I told myself I would revisit them midway through the year to see if I had stuck to them. But January Hannah didn’t know about Covid-19, so returning to this list is less about assessing my progress and more about rethinking my goals — and asking if specific goals are even possible at this time, when I don’t have any childcare and so much is still uncertain. (As I write this, my son is doing a “maker class” over Zoom and my daughter is zoned out in front of Daniel Tiger.)
Anyway, we’re officially halfway through the year, so here’s a look at the resolutions I posted on January 1, 2020 . . .
1. Start a Monthly Newsletter to Highlight New Releases by Female Directors
So, I actually did a bit of research into starting a newsletter, and was thinking of using Substack, but then I got a little intimidated by the process and I was working on novel revisions so I decided to just wait until my head was clearer. This was in January. Then, in early March, I was planning to revisit the platform and relaunch to start in April . . . but suddenly everyone was talking about this weird new “coronavirus.” A few weeks later, all the movie theaters were closed and everyone was glued to the news. It didn’t feel like the best time to launch a newsletter encouraging people to go out to theaters to see new movies directed by women.
I may revisit this idea, or just fold it into my newsletter that already exists on TinyLetter and which I use every once in a while for no particular reason.
2. Watch Three Movies Per Week
I just counted, and I watched an average of two movies a week, which was more than I expected given the amount of TV I’ve watched. I’d definitely like to watch three movies a week going forward, but I don’t know if it’s realistic, knowing that I’m going to have to do another round of revisions on my novel. I’ll probably end up doing most of those revisions late at night, unless by some miracle my children start to sleep in past 6:30 a.m. and I start waking up at 5 a.m.
3. Attend a Film Festival
This resolution reminds me of that old joke: “Want to make God laugh? Make a plan.” No, I will not be attending a film festival this year, since they were all cancelled. But I might try to create my own film festival experience by making a special effort to watch movies that were at Sundance this year and/or were slated for SXSW. I was also interested to see that next year’s Sundance festival will be accessible online, which might turn out to be a really good thing for people (like me) who find it hard to get to film festivals.
4. Add Star Ratings
Okay, I did this, with an eye toward applying for Rotten Tomatoes critic status. I have mixed feelings about the stars, because I feel like almost everything gets slotted into the 2.5 – 3.5 star range. I hardly give anything 1 star or 5 stars. The lack of 1 star ratings makes sense, because it’s rare for me to watch something I really hate. Usually I just turn it off. But I’m on the fence about 5 stars — I can’t decide if I should be giving the best movies of any given year 5 stars, or if 5 stars are for very, very special movies and it’s possible that there could be a year without a movie worthy of 5 stars.
For the record, this is how I’m currently thinking about star ratings: 1 star is a bad movie; 1.5 bad but some tiny redeeming quality, usually a particular actor; 2 stars is not recommended; 2.5 is mediocre but with something to enjoy; 3 stars is recommended; 3.5 is a high recommend; 4 stars is excellent/worth second viewing; 4.5 stars is wonderful, a personal favorite; and 5-stars is a movie that I will watch again and again an/or is somehow significant whether personally or a work of art.
A half-star is Cats.
5. Join Twitter?
I joined Twitter in February with the handle @ThelmaandAlice and followed a bunch of film critics. It turned out to be a weird time to join film Twitter because all of a sudden people were tweeting about mask-wearing and social-distancing and respirators. Honestly, I really hated it when I joined, I felt like I was in a world of tiny billboards. It’s definitely not my vibe, my brain doesn’t seem to click with it, and I just feel sort of lost. But I have found that it is useful in terms of quickly finding out the latest movie/entertainment news, so I’m going to stick with it.
6. Write for Other Outlets
I haven’t pitched any outlets since January, though I do have something in the works for The Common that should come out later this summer. With all the extra housework and homeschooling, I had to put freelancing on the back burner. I’d still like to do this but I’m not sure that it’s a realistic goal for this year. It’s not so much the writing but the work of pitching and networking. To an editor who may be reading this: here I am, waving my hand!