You’re here. I’m honored you stopped by. Take the chair by the fireplace. Juice? Tea? Coffee?
“So, what is moviesandmemoirs.org? Sounds like an odd pairing of genres to me."
Yes. I understand your bewilderment. Yet, the title combines two of my passions—watching quality movies and reading good memoirs—so, for this writer, it’s a perfect match. If that’s odd, so be it.
“Why should I visit your website?”
Good question. My purpose for these pages is to primarily recommend films and memoirs that I think are worthy of your time. Many nights in the past I wasted countless minutes trying to find 'just-the-right'movie for the mood I was in, or one both my wife and I could enjoy together. Since I have now seen hundreds of movies and read scores of memoirs, I thought maybe I could save you time by telling you succinctly what the film or memoir is about and my response to it.
Occasionally, I may write a negative review because I watched a film that perhaps was critically acclaimed that I thought I would like, but didn’t (Whiplash is a case in point). In general, though, I will focus on movies I enjoyed. I will try to see the films early before you see them so I can give you a heads up.
You should know, as a Christian, I also watch movies and read books through this worldview lens and will usually comment on how a book or movie lines up with biblical values. People who are Christians will appreciate this and those with strong moral values.
Regarding my personal taste, I try to stay away from movies with nudity and detailed sex scenes, gore, gratuitous violence, as well as horror films. To give you an idea regarding my violence tolerance, Django Unchained was too much for me, but We Were Soldiers was not. The reason I avoid the horror genre is because I try to get rid of my fears (“Love casts out all fear” 1 John), not invite new ones in.
Having said that I need to add that I did like what I call 'horror lite' films like Signs, The Sixth Sense, and The Quiet Place.
My critical approach, however, is not micro-analyzing and counting exactly how many swear words there are in a film or book. I like to evaluate the work as a whole.
For example, the movie, Gran Torino, had some swear words but I thought it was a great movie because it addressed a lot of important issues like racism, family, how we treat our older parents, repentance, and sacrifice. Conviction, on the other hand, with Hilary Swank, though it was a great story (sister becomes a lawyer to defend her brother in prison), was so overboard with rough language it prevented me from enjoying it.
I liken my method of reviewing to what Jesus said to the Pharisees: “You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.” In other words, you can miss the big picture by focusing on the smaller details.
"What can I expect from this website?"
You can expect reviews of a wide variety of movies and memoirs. In terms of movies, I will review "indies" (independent films), foreign (mostly French), artsy, and some mainstream films in most genres but my focus will be on movies that might have slipped under your radar, or gone out of the theaters early because they did not appeal to the mass market.
Don’t be surprised to see reviews of movies you have never heard of, and not see reviews of the “blockbusters.” You will see more movie reviews than memoir reviews simply because it takes less time to see a film than read a book.
The ratio I’m aiming for is 4 to 1. My goal is to post one movie review a week and one memoir a month on Thursdays. As traffic for the website grows, I will probably ask other writers to contribute to the content.
"What qualifies you to write this website?"
I watch many movies and read a lot of memoirs. I’ve been writing part-time for over 30 years with articles published in a variety of newspapers and magazines including: Decision, Writer’s Digest, Writing!, Voice, Vision, Community Newspapers (of Canandaigua, NY), Syracuse Parent, and Guideposts.
I’ve self-published for of my own books: With a Grain of Salt and Salt for the Supper Table (these are both collections of column pieces), To Uber or Not to Uber (ebook), and Runaways (novel set in France). I won first place (and $10,000) in the 1999 national writing contest called The Amy Awards for an article I wrote about the movie, Saving Private Ryan entitled, Saving Private Ryan: Saving Mankind.
I have a BA in English Literature. And, probably what qualifies me most: I pay for this website and I’m gonna write reviews, “dagnabit” (as Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies used to say).
Life Situation: Married, semi-retired, three grown children, eight grandkids, a plastic Mr. Incredible (Bob) on my desk.
Feedback. I would like to hear from you and have some interaction, so sign up and make some comments. If my reviews helped, let me know. If you disagree, that’s fine too.
Let’s have fun.
“My purpose for these pages is to primarily recommend films and memoirs that I think are worthy of your time. ”
Avoid at all costs.
Bad. Don’t see it.
A solid, good movie that is well-worth your time.
Superior movie to others in its genre.
A rare treat. A movie above all expectations.