Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Icebox Movies Turns A Year Old

"Farewell, the pleasures of the flesh! What I don't understand is how we're going to stay alive this winter."

The above is a quote by Ralph Richardson from Doctor Zhivago (1965), and I like the quote so much, it's been my signature on IMDB for almost two years now. I guess the reason why I like the quote so much is because it embodies cold temperatures. Not many movie quotes embody cold temperatures, do they? No. Certainly not very many quotes from a movie as cool as this one. Or from the hand of somebody as cool as cool as David Lean.

Fact is, it's one of my favorite movies despite the fact that it's not Lean's masterpiece (that's either Lawrence of Arabia or The Bridge on the River Kwai... maybe even Great Expectations, if you want to be adventurous).

I'd say Zhivago is more like Lean's "great flawed film". It kind of goes to what Truffaut once said: every great director has a masterpiece, and yet it's the great flawed films that arouse the emotions more often. And Zhivago may not be a perfect movie, but geez: it's got OMAR SHARIF! A guy with a mustache is the hero, for once. And he goes to bed with Julie Christie AND Geraldine Chaplin (who, of course, are both fantastic as well).

And damn it: SNOW AND ICE! How many *legendary* movies have snow in them? Well, there's Lost Horizon, The Shining, The Empire Strikes Back, Fargo, The Thing... uhh, anything else? No.

So, if you're anything like me, you've gone out, bought and obsessed over the new Zhivago 45th Anniversary DVD. If not? Then... sheesh! You suck.

Nah, I kid. But I digress. This post isn't supposed to be all about Zhivago...

A year ago today, I started this site. Icebox Movies began life as "Icebox Reels", and the above picture (from Zhivago--what else?) served as the initial banner for the main page. Eventually I ditched the title "Icebox Reels" because I wanted to distance it from James Berardinelli's ReelViews--a site that I think is just abysmal.

I created a site because Ryan Kelly and Rob Humanick had already started sites of their own. I basically met them on IMDB (we would generally discuss with some cinephiles on the 2001: A Space Odyssey boards each and every month), and over there we'd get into all kinds of discussions on Kubrick, the Oscars and various other subjects... until Ryan and Rob drifted off. Ryan told me he had started his own Blogger site. I was happy to drop by his and Rob's sites occasionally, but thought, "I'll be damned if I'm gonna create one of these myself".

You see, I thought I was done with online film critiquing. I have been posting movie reviews on the Web ever since I was 13 years old: ever since that one day in Spring 2004, when I was sitting in the middle of my seventh grade Geography class and posted a brief little review of Minority Report on Yahoo Movies. On Yahoo, I had created for myself the username, "icebox482000". I had wanted to go by "icebox" (remember, I love cold temperatures), because, you know, names like "ice cube" and "ice T" and "ice cold" were already made famous by... rappers. Even "Ice Pack" was used for a Batman Beyond cartoon villain or something. But nobody had taken "icebox" yet...

Or had they? Occasionally people have asked me, "Icebox... as in Little Giants?" And I would have no idea what the hell they were talking about. You see, I *have* seen Little Giants before--but I saw it such an awfully long time ago when I was under the age of ten, so I don't really have any memories of it... I vaguely recall a scene where Rick Moranis is berating Ed O'Neil for "hurting the feelings" of his children, and of course the scene where the Karate Kid from Seinfeld is growling at his reflection in the mirror. But I definitely did NOT remember that Shawna Waldron's character was nicknamed "Ice Box", even though I did just barely remember the character herself (off-topic, but apparently Shawna Waldron has grown up to be, like, super-hot or something? Check this out).

So, no. I did not get my username or my website from Little Giants.

Let me just get something out of my system, though: Yahoo Movies is a horrid place for movie-reviewing. I quickly figured out the hard way that you can't edit your reviews over there; once you've finished a movie review, that's it. It's there forever. You can't delete it or anything. I remember having to write THREE reviews of Peter Weir's Witness (1985) because I was always embarrassed with my first review, and kept wanting to revise it. My first review, as you can tell, is written by a timid 13-year old just trying to write a capsule review in the best way he can think of. My second review was an attempt to try to write a longer review, with a more objective opinion. My third review was written when I tried to form a more concrete opinion on the film.

Do you realize what I had to do in order to write three different reviews of the same movie? I had to create different accounts with fake email addresses!

Not only are they terrible reviews, but Yahoo at some point changed the dates on which I wrote them. So now my 2004 reviews claim that I wrote them in 2006. And my old review of The Color Purple, which was written when I was fifteen years old (with the same irritating, fanboyish, Ebert-wannabe prose I used back then) makes it look as though I wrote that review in 2008! What's that all about? Oh, and here's my review of Stone's JFK, written at the same time. You can probably tell because back then, I was a rabid conspiracy theorist who looked at the film with blind faith. It's still a great film, of course, but I don't look at it with such gullibility anymore.

I think around the same time I wrote a review of Return of the Jedi, and for weird reasons, that review had since been snagged on Blogger; another person has published it on their site! Well, I didn't know I was such a celebrity, especially over such a terribly-written review, but thanks for recognizing me... whoever you are.

Done rambling about this subject. My point is, hey! Yahoo Movies! Fuck you.

Around summer 2005, when I was getting fed up with Yahoo and wanted to go to venture out to other environments and actually have conversations about movies with other people, I started up a Xanga site. Again, my username was "icebox482000". I enjoyed this site for a good while, and through it I got to meet new people who were impressed with my (growing) film knowledge. It was through these people that I got into the works of Bergman, Kurosawa and every other foreign filmmaker that young teenagers always first start out with.

But by late 2006, I was getting tired of the site, which basically consisted of me writing three to four capsules reviews of the movies I was watching each week. If you're anything like me, you've realized that capsule reviews get boring to write after some time--and I wasn't using the site to my advantage as a way to write longer reviews. I had also started a Myspace site, but that got me nowhere interesting. Both sites have since been shut down. Had I not constantly kept getting emails from Xanga and Myspace asking, "Are you keeping your site?", I probably would have kept them alive for all of you to see...

Four years later, I was at Blogger. Last July, I had officially graduated high school but was stuck at a grueling summer job at Six Flags, and was totally not looking forward to a whole year of community college. All of my close friends were going over to universities. Literally none of them stayed behind, like me. But I observed how Internet friends like Ryan and Rob were creating sites on Blogger. I decided to follow their example.

Not all of my essays published on this site have endured. My first publication here was a review of Spielberg's Always (1989). A splendid film, but my review was amateurish. I've deleted it.

My second publication was a review of Kathryn Bigelow's K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), which I wrote during the excited wait for The Hurt Locker. But after seeing The Hurt Locker, my opinions on Bigelow's filmmaking became somewhat blurred and confused, and rather contradicted the stuff I had written in my K-19 review. I was also no longer proud of my K-19 review because I had written it hastily after midnight, and was not as focused as I should have been. Again, this review has been deleted.

I'd have to say that the first great thing that happened to me on Blogger was getting the chance to participate in Tony Dayoub's Brian De Palma blogathon back in September. Man, did my piece on Redacted cause an uproar! Even though I said some things during the discussion on that particular film that I regret saying (and I later wrote a revised piece on the film here, on this site, that corrected some of those invalid points I made in my original essay), I'm still happy to have participated in the blogathon. It more or less got my site noticed, and allowed me to discover the amazing sites of everyone else.

Before the year was out, I got to meet one of my filmmaking idols. I have to hand it to David Lynch: without him, I would have still been a clueless 18-year old who didn't really understand the difference between celluloid and digital photography. But although we are indeed headed for a digital revolution, Lynch reminded me that "cinema will never die". You can view my entire conversation with him here (and you can read my blog piece detailing my trip up to Iowa to meet Lynch here).

In case you were wondering, some of the other stuff on this site has been deleted. Such as my Saving Private Ryan essay from back in December. The film, in my opinion, is a masterwork, and I tried to do as much justice to it as possible. But the main focus of the essay was never achieved: I wanted to disprove Jonathan Rosenbaum's claim that SPR was "inspired by every war movie Spielberg has ever seen", including Samuel Fuller's war movies--I ultimately did not do good on proving Rosenbaum wrong because I had never even seen Fuller's war movies. Since then, I have, and I intend to re-review SPR again. But if you've noticed, there are no longer any pieces about Spielberg films on this site (unless you count my Top 50 of the decade).

And remember my ill-fated Presidential series? That's not here anymore, either. Basically, I wanted to write something about each and every President from the 20th century. I was able to get past the first three presidents, and then got bored and aborted the whole thing. Even writing about the great Woodrow Wilson (screw you, he may have been a racist, but... LEAGUE OF NATIONS, BITCHES!) could not sustain my interest in the rest of the project.

Also, remember, everybody: the John Huston blogathon officially begins here on August 5th! It's only less than a month away, so be sure to at least start THINKING about what to write!

Oh, and one more thing...

"This mask belongs to the PEOPLE!"

Huh. Well... that was surely the lamest ending ever to a one-year anniversary post. Guess it'll have to suffice.


  1. Congratulations on one full year Adam! I delete and edit posts constantly. At this point I have deleted probably close to 100 posts from when I started, others I have put back in draft for cannibalizing later. Hell, I even edited out all the "I'm leaving" comments on my "Exit" post and put the "I hate all of you" post in draft, and they've only been up a few weeks. I figured, now that I'm back to blogging, no reason to keep those up.

    Anyway, back to you. Happy 1 Year Anniversary!

  2. Thanks, Greg! I do the "draft" thing all the time, actually... I did it with my old Saving Private Ryan review. Basically I've taken it back to the cutting room floor. But... what!? You put the "I hate you" post back in draft? No!!!! Revive it! It may not reflect your current feelings about Blogger, but it's also a piece of history.

    That's one good thing I can say about sites like these. We can always look back at our older posts and laugh (though, of course, some of them are too embarrassing to let live).

  3. Happy Anniversary! I don't remember the presidential series, but I loved your post on Milo and Otis.

  4. Congratulations, Adam! You're one of my go-to bloggers; your enthusiasm and range are inspiring. Keep it up, and post when you can.

  5. Tom, if my memory serves me correctly, I attempted to start up the Presidential series shortly before that piece on Milo and Otis.. Eventually I just got bored with the series and decided that it was time to go back to writing about movies. That's what I founded this site for, after all! And as always, thanks for finding my site of interest.

    Craig: ditto. I'll post when I can if you post when you can! Now all that's left for me to do is get this place noticed by a professional--I still envy you for getting Ebert's attention, haha.

  6. I could be mistaken, but I think each of the presidents has been depicted in a film. Henry Fonda played Lincoln, Frank Langella as Nixon, etc. Maybe there's an idea for a blogathon - movies about the presidents.

  7. "And damn it: SNOW AND ICE! How many *legendary* movies have snow in them? Well, there's The Shining, The Empire Strikes Back, Fargo, The Thing... uhh, anything else? No."

    Ah Adam, there's another that you will be scratching your head on. LOL!!!!

    John Huston's THE DEAD.

    Well, we'll certainly talk some more on that during the upcoming blogothon! And I recently watched Anthony Mann's THE HEROES OF TELEMARK, which had quite a bit of that "Norway" snow as lensed by camera wizard Robert Krasker, who also did wonders with the white stuff on THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. And then there's Larissa Shepitko's masterful Russian feature THE ASCENT.

    And Eisenstein's ALEXANDER NEVSKY is yet another one.

    But enough of snow. Let's acknowledge John Huston, David Lynch and most important of all Adam Zanzie. Kudos to you Adam on your one-year anniversary! You've done some great work here, and I know the best yet is still ahead. I enjoyed reading about the advent of the blog and of your meeting Ryan on the IMDB, etc., and of your time at Six Flags, a place my family and I have visited many times (of course the one here in Jackson, N.J.)

    The meeting with David Lynch was awesome, and that's a great photo you had taken with him! Quite a baptism under fire for a young man!

    I really do wish you the best my friend, and will be certainly participating in the blogothon. I will be sure to run a full post on it next week at Wonders.

  8. Sam, thank you so much. The blogathon is going to be a lot of fun, I can already feel it. And I feel like an idiot for missing the snow and ice of The Dead, lol (though I haven't seen all of that film--yet!). Thanks for mentioning that Eisenstein title, too; I'll definitely be looking into that one.

    Oh, and Tom, about the question of whether every U.S. president has been portrayed on film, there are some that I highly doubt have gotten screen treatments... Monroe, Harrison (both of them), Taylor, Pierce, Buchanan, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley (hell, nearly all of the Gilded Age presidents!) and maybe even some of the Depression era presidents like Harding and Coolidge. Of course, some of them don't deserve to be portrayed onscreen because they were truly mediocre leaders. Still, there are some complex but tragic figures like Jackson, Wilson and LBJ who have been portrayed onscreen before, but in my opinion deserve contemporary screen portrayals.

    Yeah, you can definitely say I'm a U.S. History buff :)

  9. Happy (belated) anniversary! And look at you with David Lynch. So lucky!

    Your presidential series intrigues me. Like Kahn on "King of the Hill" said, the span between Tyler and Buchanan in the list of presidents would wipe most people out.

    I doubt president John Tyler was ever portrayed in anything. The IMDb says Franklin Pierce was a character in "The Great Moment" (1944)! Who knew?

  10. That's surprising, Stacia. I wouldn't think there'd be anything about Pierce worth portraying in a film, aside from his bigotry (sicking federal troops on a slave to ensure his delivery to a ship) or his alcoholism. Strange.


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