Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Movie Blog Shuffle

So it's been a few weeks since Cinematical got axed, and I've been looking into other movie blogs to fill the void. I thought I'd put down a few thoughts on the ones I've tried so far. This is not anything near a comprehensive list, and I welcome all suggestions for other blogs.

CinemaBlend - They do a great job on the news feed, and often have links to neat marketing material and oddball stories that other sites overlook. However, there only seems to be one regular columnist, Kino Katey, who runs a podcast and blogs. I can't find any other feature stories on the site aside from reviews. While news coverage is important, what I primarily want from a blog is commentary and articles, so it looks like no dice here. The site architecture is also a little wonky, with rollover buttons that are not behaving as I think anyone intended them to. And they have a "Celebrity" section. That is never a good sign.

Slash Film (/Film) - I like the fact that there's a pretty lively community here. Nearly every article has a couple of comments that show signs of moderate intelligence and rampant geekery. And of course, Slash Film is the home of the Slash Filmcast with David Chen, Adam Quigley, and Devindra Hardawar, which is a lot of fun. But just looking at the blog, the layout is geared toward mobile devices with massive graphics that often dwarf the text. The place really gives my scroll button a workout, and the load time is... not great. And then there's "Page 2," the post where they aggregate all the smaller stories and tidbits that were deemed not important enough to get a post all to themselves. The thing is, "Page 2" is usually at least four pages long and a total mess, crammed full of fanart, merchandise graphics, and marketing images. These guys never heard of links? And again, no regular features or columns that I could find.

Movieline - This one is a former print magazine that was converted into a website in 2009. First off, they have Jen Yamato and Stephanie Zacharek, who are awesome. The site layout is much cleaner, simpler to navigate, and easier on the eyes. I appreciate that all their stories, including all the news, reviews, and features, are in the same feed so I don't have to bounce around checking multiple pages. Still no columns, but there is more original content in the form of editorials, lists, retrospectives, and festival coverage. And if you like interviews, Movieline averages about one per day. They even put all their best content together each month for a "Virtual Newstand" e-zine edition.

Movies.Com - The navigation on the site is a pain, but the blog is nicely minimalist, with only the headlines in the feed, and a separate blog solely for links to stories on other websites. There are lots of features and editorials, including a few regular columns. No surprise, since this is where several former Cinematical writers are still alive and kicking, notably Erik Davis, Todd Gilchrist, and Peter Hall. However, it's really not the same. Both Movies.Com and Movieline are aimed at a more general audience than Cinematical was. The content they have is fine, but there's not much about older movies, indies, foreign films, and all the pretentious hoity-toity stuff that I love. Well, a few "Tree of Life" nods not withstanding.

Film School Rejects - Now we're talking. In addition to a good Hollywood news feed, with an excellent "After Dark" wrap-up post for smaller stories and wacky geekbait, Film School Rejects has weekly columns with names like "Old Ass Movies," "Culture Warrior," "Foreign Objects," and "Criterion Files." They have daily links to different short films and vintage trailers. And there's a guy who just posts rants every Monday. I think there's even a decent podcast in here somewhere, which I need to add to the endless list of shows I should make time to listen to. The quality is iffy at times but I'm hopeful it will improve. The collective power of so many utter film nerds must prevail.

And finally, some miscellanea - I didn't get past the first pages of Screenjunkies or MovieWeb due to their hellacious site designs and shameless pandering to social media. Firstshowing is clearly run by some passionate movie fans, but tends to focus too heavily on the fanboy niche films for me, and a glance and their reviews tells me I'm not the target audience at all. Film Junk is great, but the features and articles are a rarity. I know the distinction is not very clear, but I think of The Wrap, The Vulture, AICN, Collider, and a bunch of others as primarily news sites. Cartoonbrew is still tops for all things animated. And uh, I think GordonandtheWhale broke my browser.

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