A Life at the Movies is the daily film blog of Tokyo-based journalist Kevin Mcgue.
Why I Started this Site
The title of this blog, A Life at the Movies, is a reference to Kevin Murphy’s memoir, A Year at the Movies: One Man’s Filmgoing Odyssey. After the cancelation of Murphy’s show “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” in which he and friends reveled in bad movies for ten year, the puppeteer decided to take a year off to celebrate the experience of seeing movies, by seeing a movie in a cinema every day of 2001 (including September 11), meanwhile traveling around the world to seek out interesting movie theaters.
I usually watch (or re-watch) a movie every day, and although I would love to make a pledge to go to the cinema every day for the rest of my life, I have to hedge my bets from the beginning and say I will try to watch a movie every day and write about it here. There will most definitely be days when I watch more than one movie, but unfortunately, there will also be days when I won’t be able to make the time to watch one. More often than not, I watch movies at home. I am a firm believer in the theory that watching a movie in a theater as part of an audience is a completely different experience than watching a DVD at home, and I go to the cinema more often than most, but the simple fact that movie tickets have gotten so expensive everywhere (roughly $16 dollars a head where I live, Tokyo) coupled with the fact that there is not always something I want to see, often leaves me looking for something to watch at home.
I will also be using this platform to write about movie books, magazines, filmmakers and other movie fans.
Why I Love Movies
It would be hard to overemphasize the importance movies have held in my life. Films can be ephemeral pieces of entertainment, but can also be something somewhat less, and often something much more. Sure, there are films like Harold and Maude and Groundhog’s Day that I could honestly and unflinchingly say irreversibly changed my life when I saw them. There are films like Vertigo and It’s A Wonderful Life that touch me on an emotional level that I could not imagine being even remotely approached by any other art form. There are performers who instill in me a unselfconscious sense of joy and love of life, such as Cary Grant in Holiday, or Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. There are also films that I love because they allow me to surrender to a sense of the ridiculous like Take the Money and Run or anything with the Marx Brothers. That’s not to say I only feel emotions vicariously through films, but I do admit I use films as a kind of standard for sorting through and understanding human experience, and believe that many people have done the same since at least Melies’ A Trip to The Moon.
Some of the films I count among my favorites, such as Vertigo and Citizen Kane are widely considered to be some of the best movies ever made. Some others that I love equally, such as Myra Breckenridge, Caligula, and Plan 9 From Outer Space are considered to be the worst ever shown. I make no distinctions along such lines. I consider myself lucky that I am not a professional film critic, as I rarely have to see movies I don’t want to. Although I feel I appreciate films in a relatively wide reaching range of genres, I have little interest in multi-million dollar action spectacles and don’t feel in the least bit bad about neglecting them here. I simply cover what I am interested in.
John Waters wrote that after seeing Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! he got a job as a film critic just so he could rave about it. That is really the function of this site, for me to rave about films I like. It would be nice if I could introduce readers to films they wouldn’t have known about otherwise, especially if that leads to them watching and enjoying the films. This is doing a service both to the reader and to the film. But I have to come clean and say this something I am also doing for myself, as a way to keep track of my various cinematic obsessions.
I am a journalist and writer based in Tokyo, specializing in writing about fashion, art, food and culture. If you would like to get in touch with me for some reason, visit the contact page.