The future of film criticism is in the past

Being a classic film fan can be a lonely experience, one of those people who regularly scans the TV listings for 1am repeats of Clarence Brown films or documentaries about RKO.

This past year has found me immersed in cinema history, through my visit to the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), my work running the Park Circus blog and my weekly Edinburgh Evening News column.

A few weeks ago I wrote in the paper about the arrival of Scorsese’s Hugo and new silent film, The Artist, both of which celebrate the early days of film, while on Thursday I noted the arrival of Edinburgh’s IMAX screen and the need to keep an eye on some of the smaller films in the city.

As I’ve discovered through working with Park Circus, the world is increasingly looking to the past for its entertainment, something I’m more than happy to be a part of.

I’ll be visiting the IMAX for Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol in a few weeks, and appreciate the need to promote quality new cinema via sites like my own www.reelscotland.com, but I also think it’s my responsibility to tell readers about our rich cinematic heritage, as I did back in September for the Evening News.

It’s also the reason I recently started another blog in the shape of Holyrood or Bust. With the huge volume of DVDs and Blu-rays currently being released, not to mention cinema re-releases and films such as The Artist, it’s a golden period for those wanting to write about classic film.

My most recent post was requested by a friend in New York, Will McKinley, who is a viewer and fan of the US TCM channel. Though I’m unable to watch the channel, I did become a convert to TCM during the TCMFF and used their recent Buster Keaton season to launch the site in October. This time, Will asked if I could write a post to celebrate the return of TCM host, Robert Osborne, to the screen after a short absence.

I obliged by using an excerpt from an interview I carried out with Osborne in LA earlier in the year:

I’m now gearing up for a 2012 filled with even more classic films, including another trip to Bristol’s Slapstick Festival, the second Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema here in Scotland (see my video interview below), a return to Los Angeles and a few other projects that are in the early stages.

Through my work I’ve discovered a vibrant community of classic film fans it’s been a privilege to engage with them on various websites, via Twitter and, most importantly, in cinemas around the world.

Here’s to another classic year of film coverage in 2012.

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Classic film blogging for Park Circus

Park Circus blog

Park Circus blog

I don’t think I’ve mentioned my work for classic movie distributor, Park Circus, here on the blog before, probably because I’ve been too busy actually working on the project to discuss it.

Based in Glasgow, Park Circus represent the back catalogue of film distributors such as Walt Disney and MGM, ensuring they’re seen in cinemas around the globe every day of the week. At present they have around 12,000 titles on their books, and at any time dozens of those are being shown from the UK to Australia via the USA, Sweden and dozens of other countries.

For the last few months my role has been to commission and coordinate the publication of numerous blog posts which discuss some of those 12,000 films, usually focusing on titles which are being re-released in the UK and around the world. In the last few months we’ve had The African Queen, Taxi Driver, The Last Picture Show and a number of classic DVDs.

Content has included Q&A’s with those restoring the films, a blog post from silent film pianist Neil Brand on a Douglas Fairbanks DVD, a feature on cult movies and a weekly round-up of some of the most interesting screenings taking place.

With far less new content to promote than those discussing 3D blockbusters, it’s a challenge to make these films relevant to modern audiences, but a resurgence of interest in classic cinema and the increase of digital projection making it easier to get these films out to cinemas helps. Add to the mix some promotion on Twitter and Facebook and you’ve got a fantastic project to work on.

Currently I’m working on a Film Noir Blogathon to tie into the July 22 re-release of 1946’s Gilda, starring Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth, and after launching it last week we had some fantastic coverage from other film blogs around the world, including Cinemart and FilmsNoir.net.

All this ties into my personal love of classic cinema, which I try to cover on my Edinburgh Evening News blog regularly and which I savoured on my recent trip to the TCM Classic Film Festival.