A decade of Marshall and the Movies.

28 07 2019

“I have no idea where this inspired idea will take me,” a 16-year-old Marshall wrote on his first day of blogging, “but I know that the first thing that write will somehow come full circle.” This is not the end, to be clear. In fact, hopefully, this is far from the end. But nothing like a big milestone to inspire a lot of introspection, self-congratulation and gratitude, right?

Writing this blog changed my life. Maybe even saved it, if we want to get dramatic. The person who started writing this blog is forever a part of me, but in a ways, the 26-year-old Marshall who’s banging out this post feels like an entirely different person. So, if you’ll excuse the potential pretentiousness, I want to write in a kind of third-person omniscient narrator voice about this person who now seems so foreign to me but is also so dear.

“I have trouble getting things started,” he typed at 11:47:50 P.M. on Monday, July 27, 2009. “I don’t know where or when this will end, but it starts now.” He couldn’t know that he’d log over 1,500 movie reviews and 2,500 posts on the site. He couldn’t know that it would be a crucial selling point (perhaps) in interviews for scholastic and professional opportunities. He couldn’t know that the act of sharing his passion with others rather than keeping it to himself out of shame and fear would radically change how others saw him – and open up new opportunities for authentic, meaningful connection.

He couldn’t know that someday, he’d still be writing about movies, just exceedingly less and less on this site he started. (The “American Hustle” banner art ought to give away the last time the layout was seriously examined.) He couldn’t know that the passion project he worked on after finishing homework, during lunch breaks at work and (every so often) in class would open up an avenue for professionalization and monetization.

He couldn’t know that a childhood hero like Roger Ebert would compliment him. That he’d be interviewing some of the filmmakers behind some of his favorite films. (That he’d even want to talk to the guy who played Edward Cullen in the “Twilight” movies – remember, this was 2009!) That he’d be accredited to attend some of the world’s greatest film festivals. That his word would carry enough weight that a studio would put it in trailer and marketing collateral.

He knew he’d love combining his passions of film and writing, but he couldn’t know just how much that love would ripple out and affect everything else in his life. He just had the idea to start something, a Julie Powell-inspired burst of inspiration that his thoughts mattered and were worth sharing. 26-year-old Marshall thanks 16-year-old Marshall for this every day. It wasn’t always easy, but we made it somewhere neither of us thought was possible.

To everyone who humored me, especially in the early days when this seemed like more of a self-indulgent waste of time than anything else (and who’s to stay it still isn’t, honestly?), I owe you beyond anything you could ever imagine. To feel like my words and ideas had some merit meant so much to that teenager who felt small and alone. This also applies to anyone I’ve ever connected with online through movies as well and maybe hasn’t even met me in real life or has no idea about the person behind the words!

I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know how much longer this will go. That’s not any indication that I’m hesitating, by the way, just an admission that perhaps I’m not quite so different as the 16-year-old who banged out that first post over his MacBook a decade ago. But 26-year-old me has so much more than that – confidence, experience; community, self-reliance; support, trust.

If you’re reading this, you’ve played a part in making that possible. This accomplishment belongs to you, too. I hope you know the impact you have on people, including me, and that you continue to use that impact to make the world around you a brighter place. Be it through supporting others or believing in yourself, your affirmations have power. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing about movies for 10 years, it’s that there is a world of people out there who are full of passion. Many of these people I’ve come to know share this spark for film, but I’ve also come to realize that being your most authentic self can help inspire others to be theirs as well. I promise you that there’s someone out there who shares your very particular brand of zeal for something. Let others know, and you’ll find your people.

That’s all I’ve got for now, as most of you really just come here for me talking about the movies! But on this milestone occasion, I hope you’ll spare me waxing a little sentimental and personal. (And I know this site is getting a little rusty from lack of use. I promise I’ll start making it back here more … some day!)

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Here we are. Year 9.

28 07 2018

“I found that life intruding on writing was, in fact, life. And that […] one must not think of life as an intrusion. At the end of the day, writing has very little to do with writing, and much to do with life. And life, by definition, is not an intrusion.”

– Sarah Ruhl, “100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write”

I could go back and count, but just having a number probably won’t make the point as well as my next phrase will: I’ve barely written on Marshall and the Movies in the last year. Less so than any year in the history of the site, which, as of today, is nine years. If writing this blog followed the same rules as the presidency, I’d be term limited by now. (That is NUTS to me.)

The past year has held arguably the most monumental changes in my life, probably ranking up there with … well, starting this site, for one! I’ve now been residing in New York for eight months and have been ramping up both my moviegoing activity and freelance writing as a result. (You can read a lot about that here.) I’ve left Marshall and the Movies, my original baby, on the back-burner as I reconnect with old friends, make new ones and explore all that this city has to offer. To be clear, I have absolutely NO INTENTION of ceasing activity here or shutting the site down. (One year short of a decade, are you kidding me?)

I’m trying to make it a priority to start writing here again, in part because I can toy around in it like a sandbox before attempting similar feats in pieces sent off to professional editors. I love writing this site and often feel like jotting down my thoughts here after seeing a movie is the only way to complete my experience of processing it. While my initial goal of reviewing every movie I’ve seen that’s been released since summer 2009 when I started this blog seems unattainable now (losing a year will do that to you), I do want to regain some ground.

Even though I’m not always updating this site, know that the passion for cinema still burns deep inside me. You can find information and updates from me on the following sites in lieu of posts here, in case you’re really dying to know what I’m watching and thinking:

Facebook

Twitter

Letterboxd

Portfolio site (literally everything I’m writing elsewhere, always kept up to date)

As always, thank you all for continuing to support, encourage and read. There would be a site without you – just being honest – but it would not be nearly as fun or useful. Your readership makes this something besides a vanity project or a selfish hobby! It probably still is those things, but at least you give me some reassurance that it serves as something more.

Anyways, here’s Greta Gerwig telling me she’s happy I moved to New York, a major peak in my life, because how else was I supposed to end this post?





An Explanation, and a Return to Normalcy (I Hope!)

1 05 2018

Hey everyone,

If you checked this site recently, you’d probably assume I quit writing or something. Quite the opposite! I’ve actually been busier than ever with my freelance writing, which has included covering the Tribeca Film Festival here in New York. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve already soared well past my writing income for 2017 in just the first four months of the year.

If you’re curious to read what I’ve been writing, check out my full portfolio site for clips – or click on the image below!

I’m trying to get back into the swing of writing reviews and other commentary here with some sense of regularity. My new normal has more or less asserted itself, so it’s time to try and fit Marshall and the Movies back into my routine. (Plus, I’m a little embarrassed at how rusty I was writing a straight-up review for Tribeca.) This site is invaluable for me to push my writing in more adventurous or strange directions that an editor might not approve. So you have that to look forward to!

That’s it for tonight … see you again soon!





Where I’ve Been

30 09 2017

Hey.

It’s been a while, I know.

The last time I posted, August 19, feels like a lifetime ago. That it’s been just over 40 days seems impossible. (Apologies in advance for the ensuing humblebrag.) I took off for a week-long trip to visit a friend in London on August 22, not knowing just how different my hometown of Houston would be when I returned. Toward the end of my trip, Hurricane Harvey caused widespread devastation across Houston and much of southeast Texas – though, luckily, my home and family were spared any flooding damage.

I was not able to return home as planned on August 29, instead taking a detour to stay with family friends in Baltimore until the airports reopened/I was able to get a flight. That wound up taking until September 3.

Then, I packed up and left again on September 7 to attend a friend’s wedding in Los Angeles. From there, I left on September 10 to spend five days soaking up the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which I covered for Slashfilm and Vague Visages. It was an honor to attend and cover for these outlets, but man, was I wiped after 20 movies and everything else that had happened in those whirlwind three weeks.

So, to put it bluntly, I needed time for myself. Things had changed and will continue to change. I needed time to hear my own thoughts. To return to some sense of normality. To fall in love with movies again rather than seeing them as a box to be checked or a review to be filed. I’ve taken longer breaks from Marshall and the Movies in the past, although this one feels much longer.

Starting tomorrow, October 1, the new month will bring about a fresh start – and I’ll do my best to start posting once per day again. I make no promises as so much remains in flux. But it’s something I’m ready to begin reincorporating into my life. And you’re going to get a more thoughtful version of me now than you would have gotten were this just another checklist item on my personal agenda, trust me!

(Anyways, I don’t feel like I had to do this – and if you’ve read this far, I’m impressed and flattered. This was more for me than you, admittedly. It’s mostly a little bit of accountability.)





A third of my life later…

28 07 2017

Well, folks, it’s time for that yearly check-in on the state of Marshall and the Movies. I truly cannot believe it, but this strange journey began 8 years ago today. Over 1,500 reviews later, here I still am.

Most of the growth I’ve been focused on hasn’t occurred on the site, admittedly. When I wrote a year ago, my writing had really only appeared on one other site besides my own. (Technically two if you count my brief stint being syndicated on The Christian Science Monitor, which essentially just mined content from here.) Since then, I’ve contributed to four new sites based on pitching and my own merits – and I’ve started making real money for my words, not just because I can sell some weird ads to sketchy vendors. It’s enabling me to grow in some really fun, exciting ways – albeit ones that might not always be visible here on the site. (Hopefully the writing continues to show maturation, though!)

On that fateful first late night shift of blogging, I wrote, “What I do hope to do is to inspire a deeper appreciation of movies, foster a desire to discuss movies, and connect with people through the glorious medium of film.” Putting in 10,000 hours (to borrow a term from Malcolm Gladwell) here has enabled me to do that now on a much bigger scale and platform. My goal is to eventually shape the cultural conversation in whatever small way I can. I’m grateful to others who will lend me the megaphone to do just that.

But, at the same time, I’m grateful to have Marshall and the Movies as a sandbox. Here, with no editor and no one to answer to but myself, I can see what I want and write what I want. I can set my own deadlines and let a piece take as long as it needs to develop. I can push myself to take my writing in more exciting, unconventional directions. I can fail here with fewer consequences.

So what I’m trying to say is thanks for sticking with me here. I’m grateful to have this small little space where I can make sense of the media and culture I’m digesting, especially as the world around me seems to make less sense with each passing day.

P.S. – If you want to see all I’ve been writing off the site recently, check out my portfolio site.





7 years later, and still at it.

28 07 2016

Holy cow. 7 years ago today, I started Marshall and the Movies. Then, I was 16 years old approaching my junior year in high school with trepidation. Today, I’m 23 and rounding the corner towards my first year in the “real world” … which is scary in its own way.

In many regards, the famous saying from Joan Didion, “I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be,” rings accurate today. I don’t recognize the writer who often laid out reviews in the same blueprint as an academic essay. I don’t recognize the film enthusiast whose passion for the art barely extended past the 1970s. I don’t recognize many of the insecurities and the doubts of that person. (For good measure, I also don’t recognize some of that teenage presumptuousness.)

But after rewatching “Julie & Julia,” the film that launched me on this journey, I was also reminded that some things haven’t changed. As Amy Adams’ Julie Powell declares, “I can write a blog. I have thoughts!” I did (and am) because I had (and have). Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Though admittedly, I have let a lot of things slip – traffic, SEO, social cross-promotion, comments, reading the words of others, etc. – I cannot fully express my gratitude for those who continue to come back and read. Whether you know me personally or just found me floating in cyberspace, THANK YOU! Through your continued readership and encouragement, I can push my form on this blog and prepare to make a big impact in the freelance world.

In just the past year of expanding my writing beyond this site, it has been one heck of a ride. I have interviewed two Oscar-winners, the directors from two of my top 10 films of 2015, and three actors from my favorite movie of 2016 thus far. I have covered three film festivals, including the cream of the crop here in America: Sundance.

So … let’s fight the seven-year itch together! Here’s to bigger, better things here on the site and beyond.





Win passes to see “Sing Street” with me in Houston!

13 04 2016

Hey, Houston friends!

I’m a partner on an upcoming screening of The Weinstein Company’s new movie “Sing Street,” opening in Houston on April 29! The screening takes place at the River Oaks Theater on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:00 P.M. I’ll be seeing it then for the first time as well since I missed the film in Sundance.

SING STREET

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR PASSES FOR “SING STREET”