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In our first weekly blog of 2017, Slarek reveals when his end-of-year round-up is coming, questions why we feel the need to categorise things by the year in which they happen and gets humble about the lack of a site redesign.
 
1 January 2017
 

It's all about numbers

This would be the point where I, as the genial editor of a film news and review site with a positive outlook, would be expected to wish you all a happy new year. But I'm not going to do that. Then again, I rarely do to anyone. It's not out of some deeply-harboured grouchiness on my part, or the fact that it's hard to be positive when you know that handing someone like Donald Trump the nuclear codes is like giving a petulant five-year-old a loaded machine gun and hoping he won't actually do anything silly with it, or that the worst elements of our own society seem to feel empowered by the decision to leave Europe, the campaign for which that was driven by tabloid-stoked xenophobia and outright lies.

No, my problem is – and has been for as long as I can remember – the nonsensical notion that changing a 6 to a 7 on the calendar year somehow makes any difference at all to, well, anything. Start believing that it does and you'll soon find yourself in the suspect realms of numerology and taking the first step on the slippery slope to astrology and other such whimsical nonsense. Yet like those atheists who proclaim their disbelief all year but still exchange presents and eat mince pies on 25th December to mark the birth of a prophet whose divinity they dismiss as hogwash, we still tend to observe it for the sake of convenience and social conformity. We thus clump news stories and movies into the year in which they occurred or were released, a process that can't help but discourage us – at least in annual reviews – from comparing a film released in the first week of of January to one that hit cinemas just three weeks earlier, because they belong by default on different lists. And if this sounds like I'm finally building to a bold rejection of the end-of-year round-up that I've done every year since the site's inception, I'm not. Like so many, I remain a hypocrite to convention and convenience, and that 12-month box provides a handy, ready-made format for us all to deliver small shouts for films that we didn't get around to reviewing when they were first released. I thus may not hand out presents or eat mince pies in December or even wish anyone seasonal greetings (yeah, I'm a whole bundle of fun at this time of year), but I'll still be doing my regular round-up of the past 12 months' film and disc titles and will continue to identify films in part by the year of their release. Which leads me nicely to...

 

Where are the usual end-of-year round-ups?

As regular readers may well be aware, our personal picks of our favourite film and disc releases of the year almost almost always get posted a two or three weeks after other sites post theirs. We tend to come in late, usually sometime in the first two weeks in January, while others favour posting some time in December. The reasons were outlined a while ago by former site reviewer, Timothy E. RAW, who pointed out that he had seen two of what he regarded as the year's best films in the final week of December, which would not have been included had he posted the list midway through the month.

This year the situation has been exasperated by personal circumstances, as a medical procedure that didn't quite go to plan left me confined to my house on a diet of heavy pain killers for almost two months straight and has severely restricted my mobility since, which has prevented me from attending a whole string of screenings at cinemas, previews, festivals and even the film society that I co-run. I've thus spent the last couple of weeks catching up with some of the titles that I missed as a result, while a fair few others will have to wait until they make their Blu-ray and DVD debut in the coming months or get screened by out film society (we always have to book films a couple of months in advance and usually have to wait a film has done the rounds with the week-long rentals before distributors will let us have it for a single evening, at least at a price we can afford to pay). It's due to this rather wonderful, almost wall-to-wall absorption of some of the finest films I've seen all year that the site itself has effectively been on pause for the past couple of weeks. But despite still having a pile of titles to watch, I've reached my pre-set cut-off point now, and will thus be turning my attention back to film and disc reviews, and, of course, that promised end-of-year round-up.

 

So what happened to the promised site redesign?

On two separate occasions – one of them almost exactly a year ago – I wrote blogs in which I outlined the reasons for an upcoming site redesign, one that would acknowledge that a good many people no longer use a desktop computer to access web sites and hopefully make this site more mobile friendly. As you've probably noticed, it just hasn't happened. Why not? Ah...

Regular readers will probably be aware that this site is home built. We have no design or web maintenance team and the whole thing was built and is maintained by me on Adobe Dreamweaver, a slab of software that has evolved over the years to the point where I hardly know my way around it any more. The real problem is that I'm not that interested in learning any more than I already know about that particular piece of software, especially if it involves typing out code, which it increasingly seems to do. I thus looked at alternatives before resigning myself to the Dreamweaver solution. Build-your-own sites like Squarespace and Wix certainly had their appeal, not least because they would allow any of the site's contributors to set and edit their own reviews (this would save me some time), but even the more expensive ‘business' option has a page limit that is woefully short of what we would require this many years after our launch.

So I'm back to the Dreamweaver 'fluid grid' option again, a task that I know I need to get my head around but keep finding excuses to delay and talk myself out of. Despite earning a gold star for broken promises, I'm still hoping to find time to watch the appropriate tutorials and actually give this a go, fully aware that I may be saying the exact same thing a year from now...