THE LAST PICTURE BLOG

OCCASIONAL NOTES ON FILM

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I started The Last Picture Blog – under its previous guise of Popcorn Nights – about five-and-a-half years ago. Previously I wrote for magazines and websites on subjects such as football, music and photography, and while I still enjoy those pastimes I’ve barely written a word about any of them in years. With film, though, it has always been a little bit different.

As soon as I began blogging about film the amount of movies that I watched increased exponentially, and my viewing choices and taste quickly became broader; I also found a community that I’ve interacted with online (sometimes heavily, sometimes very little, sometimes not at all), certain corners of which have provided education with regards to the history of cinema and have fuelled my desire to work through all those blind spots that existed; that said, I’ll never get through everything that I want to see, but it’s fun trying. I’ve simultaneously maintained a strong interest in new releases, from great, modern works of art to entertainingly-bad drivel. That’ll continue for as many years as I’ve got left on this spinning rock.

This blog has gone through various different changes over the years. Reviews, initially at least, were much longer and I wrote about everything that I watched. Obviously this was time consuming and occasionally it felt like a chore to keep on top of it, so after a few years I had to scale back. Reviews during the past 18-24 months have been much shorter, effectively just a paragraph or two summarising how I feel about a movie; often it’s simply edited text that I’d previously posted on Letterboxd.

My daughter was born near the end of 2016, and although the amount of spare time I currently have hasn’t changed dramatically, the way in which I choose to spend it is markedly different. Right now I don’t want to spend hours sitting in front of a computer writing (and couldn’t do so with any degree of regularity even if I did actually want to). I’m surprised, though, that I still manage to get through a film a day on average whether that’s watching at home at night, going to the cinema once a week, fitting in twenty minutes’ worth of viewing in the mornings or an hour during lunch, etc but I don’t have the mental energy or the desire to write about every single film that I see any more.

As such, it’s time for another change here. I don’t want to give up on The Last Picture Blog but it’ll have to be different going forward. One thing I do know is that it’ll be sporadic posts from now on, when the mood takes me and when I have the time to sit down and write. I hope that gives me a bit more freedom; I might write the occasional review if I feel I have something worth saying, but I’m also excited about the opportunity to move off in a different direction. Who knows what that will be. Anyway, thanks very much if you’re still reading!

Hi. Those of you who regularly read The Last Picture Blog will probably know that I review every single film that I watch, and I’ve been doing so for the past three-and-a-half years, which means that I’ve spent a huge amount of my spare time writing about movies. At first this wasn’t too much of a stretch; in 2013 and 2014 I was only watching two or three features a week, on average, including new releases. However, for the past year or two I’ve been taking it a lot more seriously, watching an average of 100-150 new releases per year and also attempting to fill in lots of gaps by ploughing through my personal shame list and/or checking out other films that interest me. Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the average length of reviews has dropped during this period, and if I’m being perfectly honest although I think the overall quality of writing has improved over the years it has been dipping regularly, too; some of the reviews have been formulaic, in the sense that I find I’m often repeating the same things or making variations on the same points, while I’ve also noticed that I’ve been rushing more and more just to get them finished. Blogging has started to feel like a second job, as I always seem to have at least two or three unfinished reviews outstanding, so I think the time has come to step back a little and reduce the workload. (Or rather to step back so that it doesn’t seem like a workload.)

Additionally, but far more importantly, my wife and I are expecting our first child this November. Naturally I’m going to want to spend time getting to know this new member of the family, while I’ll also be busier around the house and changing nappies and all the rest of it as a result, so opportunities to go to the cinema will be few and far between! (At least initially, anyway, though I suppose if I do get to go I’ll probably be fast asleep by the end of the trailers.) It makes even more sense to start cutting back on the writing now, especially as we’ve got a fair bit of preparation to do at home before the baby arrives. Somehow I don’t think sitting around watching films or writing about them will go down too well, despite my wife’s seemingly endless patience with regard to this blogging lark at present.

So, with all that in mind, it’s time that I implemented some changes here. Unless I feel like I have a few things that I want to say about a particular film I’m only going to be writing long(ish) reviews for new releases, so probably an average of two new or three posts a week for the time being, as opted to seven or eight. That’ll take the pressure off, while hopefully there will be an improvement in the quality, though I can’t really make promises in that regard. I’m still going to log everything older that I’ve watched – just because I’m an absolute geek for that kind of thing – but these will all be collated into occasional round-up posts, which will be a mix of short summaries and pithy one-liners. Basically I’m going to be copying and pasting a lot from my Letterboxd account, which is an idea I’ve stolen from fellow film blogger Ewan (who you should really follow if you don’t already). I actually feel a little sad about doing this, having written more than 600 reviews in a row for every film that I’ve watched from the beginning of 2013, but it feels like the time is right to slow down. After November…who knows? I don’t want to stop blogging now, but definitely need to cut back on time spent doing so.

Anyway, thanks to those of you who have continually dropped by during the past few years, whether occasionally or regularly, and I hope you enjoy The Last Picture Blog 2.0 going forward.

Cheers,

Stu

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Hi. You may have noticed that I’ve changed the name of this blog from ‘Popcorn Nights’ to ‘The Last Picture Blog’. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but have been waiting to renew my WordPress premium subscription before doing so, as I pay to keep adverts off this blog and get free domain hosting as part of that. Anyway, as of today the old addresses of ‘popcornnights.net’ and ‘popcornnights.wordpress.com’ no longer work. Apologies if you’ve got links or bookmarks to them somewhere. The new site address is thelastpictureblog.co.uk or thelastpictureblog.wordpress.com. It’s a little temperamental at the moment but it should be working fine in a few hours’ time. Unfortunately some of the links on my Index page haven’t updated automatically, but I’ll fix them as soon as I can. I’ve also noticed that some of the links in a number of reviews aren’t working either, so sorry in advance if this causes you undue anguish, or even immense mental strain.

I never actually liked the name ‘Popcorn Nights’. I just came up with it when I first set the blog up, didn’t give it enough thought, and have been stuck with it until today (I’d have changed it sooner, but it seemed like too much effort). The funny thing is I don’t even like popcorn all that much. ‘The Last Picture Blog’ has been the site’s subtitle for a year or so now, and I liked it a lot more, especially given the fact that it references one of my favourite films. Anyway…thanks for reading. Move along, nothing more to see here.

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