March 7, 2011

The Ultimate Art - Teresa's Introduction

by Teresa Peneguy Paprock

Film is the ultimate art.

Combining the written and spoken word, music, and visual expression in a way that nothing else can, the world of film is a world in which all things are possible. Film isn’t reality; it’s more than reality: bigger, brighter, louder, faster. In films you can go anywhere, or to any time; you can meet anyone and experience everything.

The film that you watch in the theater or your living room the result of an amazing collaboration between people with widely divergent views and abilities, but somehow, it all comes together. Every moment in a film is purposeful, and every frame represents the creativity of at least one individual. Watching a movie – even a bad one – is like getting inside someone’s mind and looking at the world through his eyes.

When I was growing up, my father was a movie projectionist. These were the days when the projectionist was a trained specialist, before the days of automation when the popcorn guy can also be the projector guy by just pressing a button. My father spent years in the projection booth, loading reels, perfecting focus and getting picture and sound into perfect sync. When the film broke he took pride in careful splicing so as to minimize any distraction for the future audiences.

There were three really cool things about having a dad that was a projectionist. One was hanging out in the projection booth, a tiny room with a deafening noise that eventually would affect his hearing, but that I found exciting. The second was getting tiny pieces of film that had been cut out during the splicing process; over the years I filled an album with .35 mm images of everything from “Bongo” to “Jaws.” The best thing was getting into movies for free (something I took for granted at the time). We could see any film we wanted, and if we liked it, we could see it again.

Probably my earliest memory of a movie is watching the first few minutes of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” released in 1968 when I was four years old. I remember something about monkeys and a stick and a big stone thing, and then I remember curling up on the seat and going to sleep. I found out only recently that my mother had seen the film numerous times, trying to “figure it out,” and bringing me with her each time.

Today, I still watch certain films repeatedly, and enjoy finding new things with each viewing. I'll enjoy contributing to this blog, and writing about old favorites as well as films I've just seen.


Life at the Movies - John-Brian's Introduction

by John-Brian Paprock

The media of moving pictures has been my baby sitter - when I was a toddler, a means of celebration, a source of late night comfort, a mechanism for socializing, a vehicle for dating conversation, and a vocabulary of symbols and storylines to help me see and understand the psyche, the soul of humanity.  I have been inspired and naseated, confounded and surprized, bored and dazzled. 

I have watched the worst and have learned the lows of schlockery, sometimes clever schlockery, but schlockery nonetheless.  I have watched the best and found myself caught up in the heights of human expression, of human perception and ingenuity.

All of my favorite movies have quality technical and artistic merits.  All of them have stories and images that can stir the soul and performances that reach into the heart of humanity, exposing the most vulnerable places in the depths of existence.

My least favorite are arbitors for banal and superficial marketing ploys, designed to hookwink the audience as the lights dim. They are the movies where the chomping of popcorn is an eager diversion from the inane babble scripted (or at least recorded) for the tawdry performances of over-paid actors. They lack most of the qualities of technical expertise and choose product placement over artistic nuance.

I am honored to share interest in media with my wife. My father-in-law was a union projectionist, showing films in many of the great cinema theaters of Milwaukee. He also had a stint with Disney.

When the American Film Institute came out with its 100 best films in 100 years, we discovered there were films we had missed and went out of our way to see them all.  Then we expanded to other film lists and have seen and discussed movies from these lists of great movies - both foreign and domestic.

One of our favorite lists, perhaps because of our other interests, has been the list of of the Arts and Faith's 100 Most Spiritual Films (

It is from the increased interest in these Spiritual Films that brings me to this blog.  There are so many very very good films that have spiritual power and story and, perhaps, a bit of God and humanity as a reflection of the constant ebb and flow of the profane and the divine - good for the health of our souls and our minds as we come to greater spiritual awareness.

I hope to make the case to anyone reading this blog which movies are worth the effort and time to experience and which, regardless of how spiritual the marketing, should be avoided.

Questions, comments and suggestions are encouraged.