Saturday, December 31, 2016

Introduction

     What a year. 2016 has been a real shit show for our generation, not least for the abundant deaths of celebrities who were part of our cultural upbringing, whose passings ensured little pieces of us perishing inside too. But this year has also been a travesty for local film fans. 
     As I write this, the fabled Honest Ed's is closing its doors forever. And with it goes most of the adjacent businesses on Markham Street. Favourite haunts such as Suspect Video, The Beguiling, and Butler's Pantry are also shuttering, or dispersing to other locations, all in the name of "progress". Just what we need: more overpriced condos, more frozen yogurt places. Yippee! 
     And yet, Markham Street already had a long and colourful history prior to my immersion. For instance, Captain George Henderson, whose Memory Lane nostalgia shop on Markham closed many years before my move to Toronto, continues to influence me, thanks to the numerous nostalgia-related publications released from his headquarters. Having all of these unique stores together within one city block, unified to preserve an endless reserve of pop culture history discarded by mainstream media for the next big thing. Alas, times have changed, and it gets increasingly harder to pay the rent with Casandra Stark videos and Flash Gordon comics. 
     With the changing landscape of overpriced Toronto real estate, it comes with no surprise that video rental stores are becoming an endangered species. This is due in part to the declining appeal of renting DVDs in favour of people's refusal to detach their asses from chairs and stay home to watch Netflix instead. But with skyrocketing property costs, who can blame the merchants for choosing to close up shop? 
     As a result, 2016 has also been a sucky year because we had also lost Queen Video's flagship store, and The Film Buff on Roncesvalles. Suspect Video's closure becomes the third of that triumvirate whose unique and rich catalogues have now been fragmented off into the hands of collectors. Try duplicating their stock through iTunes. I double dog dare you. Seeing the slow terminal decline of such culture this year has been overwhelming. 

Further, this blog was actually created 366 days ago. It was intended to be a journal of films viewed in the 2016 year. Life gets in the way of many things as we get older, and the desire to tickle the keyboards with ruminations of Lew Landers subsides when your overworked and tired. This year was also intended to be the resurrection of my film zine The Eclectic Screening Room (dormant since 2012), but due to ongoing circumstances is unlikely to happen till spring.
     However through all of this miasma finally came the realization that I could allow myself to further become a prisoner of this negativity surrounding changing times, or I could take all of this energy and shape into something beautiful that defines me as a human being.
     Mount Unwatched has been an oft-used phrase among my online friends at Lloyd's Cinema Club, alluding to the huge pile of films we all have yet to watch. This will serve as a scratch pad of observances made during my viewings in the upcoming year, pieces either full-length or bite-sized, and some in preparation for further extrapolation elsewhere. I would be remiss too, not to mention that this blog was inspired in part by my friend Jonathan Culp's annual Cinertia publications, which collected his film viewings of the previous twelve months. (Do more Cinertia, JC! We need you!) Between his lines, you also read about the context in which these films were viewed. In that sense, his words also became documents of various film scenes around town. That is what I also intend to capture in this blog.
     Thanks for taking the trip with us! Hope to see you soon!

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