The elusive Cinetrix sheds a little light on Pullquote, her much loved corner of the film blogosphere.
Tell us about your blog.
Pullquote is the haunt of my pseudonymous online alter ego the cinetrix, who is prone to prolixity and dudgeon – not necessarily in that order. Basically, the blog serves as the rubber room where I can rant, rave, and opine about any aspect of film culture that catches my eye, steals my soul, or gets my dander up. In 2007, the Time Out Film Guide described Pullquote as "New Yorker sass and attitude from the cinetrix," and way back in 2004 the Toronto Star characterized my blog as "a bit too New York." Which is hilarious because I don't live in New York and haven't even lived in the Northeast for four years now, but apparently the cinetrix lives there. "New York" must be the polite way of saying "mouthy."
How would you describe your readers? Do you have much contact with the people who read you?
I confess that the people who read my blog are a source of endless fascination to me. To a person, they are smart and passionate about film. Better still, many have become e-mail, IM, and real-life pals. According to my referral logs, there aren't that many readers overall, and a disproportionate number seem to live in Brooklyn and also write about film, which makes me feel like the VU of film bloggers some days. Then there are the mysterious lurkers who keep coming back, like that person in Finland, and someone at the Pentagon, and one reader from South Weymouth, Massachusetts, which is where I was born. Who are you people? Speak up!
Tell us how – and why – you started your blog?
I've been the cinetrix ever since I got an AOL account in that name millennia ago, but Pullquote launched in September 2003. My friend Laura of About Last Night had introduced me to the incredibly smart blogs of Maud Newton, Old Hag, Uncle Grambo, and TMFTML that summer, and I was hooked. Back then, there weren't many people who were writing intelligently about movies the way my favorite bloggers wrote about books, so I saw an opening. Also, I had been mulling over finishing the cinema studies degree I'd abandoned years before, and I wanted to be sure I could sustain my passion for film before accruing additional educational debt.
Describe your blog day – do you work at home? Go to a café? Sit in an office?
My "blog day" has evolved over time. When Pullquote began, I was working as a freelance copyeditor, so I did a fair amount of writing on the Man's dime. Now I blog whenever, wherever. During the school year, I tend to write at home or at the office. (My boss knows about my blog, but the majority of my colleagues and students do not.) Over the summer and whenever I'm traveling, it's mostly a question of finding wifi. So I've been known to blog from cafes, hotels, friends' apartments, the Bolt Bus, the Soho Apple Store, you name it.
How do you find things to blog about and how do you decide that an entry is worth being in your blog?
I love this question because it presumes there's at least a modicum of quality control in play. Would that it were so. I write about the movies that I see, of course, but not all of them. I particularly like to champion films I catch at festivals that might otherwise be overlooked. Over the years I've moved away from full-fledged reviews, mostly because it's so much easier to find a glut of reviews online now, but also because I live in the sticks and therefore see most movies ages after every other film blogger out there has passed judgment. (Unless, of course, a film pisses me off, and then it's rant city, regardless.) Nowadays, I tend instead to post more impressionistic takes on some aspect of a film-the way music is used, a certain performance. Or revelations that come to me in the classroom. Otherwise, I rely on Bloglines, e-mail lists, and chance.
What is your favorite blog entry?
I don't have a favorite, per se, but there are a few early ones written in fits of pique that amuse me to revisit now and again. One took Dave Kehr to task for his review of an IMAX NASCAR movie. Another reviewed the long-shelved Prozac Nation after I came across a gray market copy at my local video store. Looking back, I apparently had no time for Peter Biskind after going to a "reading" of his. And then there's the post that begins "The Dreamers, Bertolucci's latest, is a fetid, fetish hothouse of a film, a towering necropolis, and watching it is like watching someone fuck a corpse for two hours."
What was your most popular/controversial blog entry?
Hands down, the most searched-for posts on Pullquote are about Manohla Dargis. Apparently, I'm not the only one out there who harbors an unhealthy fascination with the reclusive Times critic. (Whom I revere utterly, please let the record reflect. Any critique I make of her work stems from this unfortunate sexist tendency I have to hold women to a higher standard.) I can't think of a particularly controversial blog entry, but then I have little patience for or interest in the pissing matches that can erupt in the blogosphere. Perhaps the post that I'm proudest of is my review of Alex Gibney's Taxi to the Dark Side, which Danny Leigh at the Guardian kindly linked to and someone else listed on the doc's wikipedia page. And I am still waiting for the rest of the film world to catch up with Mike Gibisser's lapidary debut feature, Finally, Lillian and Dan.
Is blogging the new path to fame and fortune?
Hardly. Then, no one could accuse me of being a careerist. I'm happy to report that the few professional film-blogger gigs I have been approached about are currently filled by folks much better suited to that sort of daily, industry-centric grind than I am.
What separates journalism from blogging?
Editing. However, if the question you meant to ask is what separates film bloggers from film critics, my answer is "no comment." I think that topic's been done quite to death without my help, thank you.
Who are the bloggers that you read religiously?
The temptation is strong not to give David Hudson a shout out, just to be contrary, but no one would believe me. So, in addition to following the links on GreenCine Daily down various rabbit holes and keeping up with the trades, I read the usual suspects: Like Anna Karina's Sweater, The Chutry Experiment, Allison Willmore's IFC blog, Chris Cagle's Category D, Girish, Self-Styled Siren, Glenn Kenny, Penny Pascal, Kevin Lee at Shooting Down Pictures, my former TA Cynthia Rockwell, The Broad View, Aaron Dobbs, Cullen Gallagher, Criterion designer Eric Skillman's Cozy Lummox, Lawrence Levi at Nextbook, Steven Shaviro's The Pinocchio Theory.... OK, I'm beginning to sound like an addled starlet on the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. But! I do have to single out Invisible Cinema by experimental filmmaker Jennifer MacMillan. We go back so far that I appeared in her first – narrative! – film. She knows where all the bodies are buried.
How has your life changed because of your blog? Has it gone in any new directions because of your newfound prominence?
"[N]ewfound prominence"? That's rich. Ur-zinester Pagan Kennedy long ago came up with the locution "famous on your block," which I think about covers it. Which is not to say that blogging hasn't changed my life, because it most certainly has. Pullquote spurred me to finish that cinema studies degree. Since then, I've presented academic papers at various conferences, and I teach film at a university, achievements my 2003 self would not have thought possible. Also, I've become friends with an array of like-minded souls all over the world whom I never would have met otherwise. And I've even begun carving out yet another career as a writer – under my own name. Go figure.