Tuesday, November 17, 2009

THE SLIFR 5th ANNIVERSARY WINGDING!



Way back when, in the dark ages just after the turn of the century (21st), when the word “blog” was more likely to conjure images of congested sinuses than opportunities for personal expression on the Internet, I began reading Jon Weisman’s Dodger Thoughts, a blog devoted to analyzing and processing the experience of being a thinking Dodger fan (not, as some of you might be thinking, a mutually exclusive proposition). As I followed how Jon used the format to consider and critique not only the Dodger organization and individual games, but also the intricacies of the game at large, and also to interact with his ever-growing readership, I began to think about starting my own blog. Finally, in November of 2004 I screwed up enough courage to create a template, come up with a name (The Good, the Bad and the Dodgers) and dedicate my first post, an introduction and a sort of mission statement which was designed to clarify my purpose as much to myself as to anyone who might actually stumble across this embryonic, anonymous site. I wrote that I did not want to “contribute to a junk Internet culture that values quantity, immediacy and accessibility over genuinely considered thought, cogent analysis and good writing” and expressed a hope that “after time there might be… a coherent feeling and approach on this blog that might attract a readership with a reasonable anticipation of what I might be up to and, of course, a desire to follow along.”

But at the beginning I knew I was only writing for myself and for what few friends and relatives I could cajole into occasionally checking my new project out. And before the pixels on the first post were even dry I reconsidered that title, which I felt was going for a certain evocation and juxtaposition of subject matter but hadn’t quite made it there. The title I replaced it with worked better, I thought. It is the one that remains on the header to this day. My first real post, an article previously written for my own amusement and practice, came in at just over 7,000 words. I assured my reader afterwards that it was an anomaly, that I didn’t have the energy or drive to write articles of that length on a regular basis. And I got a lot of free advice from friends who suggested I keep my average about 6,000 words shorter, at least, because surely no one would ever have the patience or attention span to slog through a blog loaded with similarly logorrheic epics.


It took nearly seven months of sitting online for that article to generate a comment, and when it did the comment seemed to confirm the wisdom of my friends’ advice. The author was one Frobisher, and here’s what she/he said, in its entirety:

“ After reading your blog may i be presumptious enough to say you could have done with serious sub-editing. It was long-winded and bloated, sometimes less really is more!”

My response, either consciously or unconsciously, framed the terms of debate that I hoped would stand as more and more comments hopefully began to come in:

“ Frobisher: You may. Thanks for checking in. How did you get here? And what did you think of some of the other pieces?”

I didn’t care that she/he thought the piece was overlong and long-winded nearly so much as that she/he somehow got here, read it and was willing to talk about it. My dear wife, however, took umbrage under the assumed name she decided to use when responding on the blog and stood up for her husband in her typically sharp-tongued manner:

“ Frobisher, may I be presumptuous enough to introduce you to capitalized words and Webster's 11th edition?”

And a little over two years later, someone named “Frank Booth” (much nicer than his PBR-swilling rep) felt compelled to chime in, and he started his comment with a nice bit of encouragement:

“Nice blog. Long-windedness be damned--it's your party, ramble if you want to.”

It was May 2007, two and a half years later. The train was a-rolling. We were halfway then to where we are now. November 15, 2009, two days ago, marked the fifth anniversary of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, and as Frank Booth suggested in evoking the anguish of Leslie Gore, I’m throwing a party. I never thought I would still be writing this blog five years after I started it, and I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t made a lot of excellent friends along the way. Along with everyone who might be reading this now, I’ve invited some of those friends, old and new, to join in our little anniversary wingding. And there will be music, comedy, some odd and lively and strange moments to watch and savor, some of which are directly related to things I’ve written about here, and some only representative of the spirit which I hope reigns here and runs untethered. But most of all I just want to send out thanks to anyone who ever read anything I wrote here over the last five years, and especially to those who then wrote back with their own thoughts and started a real conversation. It’s that desire for communication, inspired by the investigation and understanding of what movies can mean when they are at their best, and what it means when they’re not, which I hope carries this blog into the next five years, and beyond.




“Everyone has a few websites they visit frequently, especially movie lovers. Among the very best of these is Dennis's eccentricly titled SLIFR, which I've become pretty addicted to. In addition to providing links to other worthy sites and Blog-a-thons, Dennis provides informative commentary and opinions on everything from Eurohorror to indies to TV and current releases. Best of all, it's fun. One of my favorite sites, and not just cuz he says nice stuff about me. Honest. (Okay, I admit it, I do like that part)” – Joe Dante, director (Gremlins, Explorers, Matinee)




"Dennis Cozzalio might truly be the most remarkable figure in the film blogosphere: a man of indefatigable energy and admirably broad tastes who somehow manages to seemingly see everything, and to write about it with wit, grace, passion and depth. On top of which, he is as humble and good humored as anyone you're likely to encounter on the Internets. That shimmering landscape he calls Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule exists to remind us all of what the blogosphere could be, if we only relaxed and engaged with our peers in a spirit of open, seemingly endless generosity. Dennis makes writing about film seem like a party, and everyone is invited." – Brian Doan, Bubblegum Aesthetics




“It was, as I recall, the late summer of 2006 -- a very dark time. My friend and colleague Roger Ebert had suffered an arterial hemorrhage July 1 and nobody knew what the prognosis for recovery would be. Or, if they did, they weren't saying, and like many others I was wracked with anxiety, worried sick about his condition. Meanwhile, I was running a web site called RogerEbert.com… without Roger Ebert. This is an impossible thing to do, let me tell you.

A few months earlier, we had moved my blog Scanners out from under the RogerEbert.com URL and onto an actual MoveableType blogging platform, and I was able to persuade the Chicago Sun-Times to let me open it up to reader comments, something we'd never done on the main site. Frankly, working alone in Seattle, with Roger incommunicado, was making me not only worried but lonely.

Something had to be done. I decided to reach out to the movie blogging community, under the naive assumption that there was one. Turns out, there was, and one of the first people I reached out to was Dennis Cozzalio at the delightfully named Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. (I had been a huge baseball fan in the mid-to-late 1980s -- especially the 1986 Mets and then Tommy Lasorda's Dodgers after I moved to Los Angeles in 1987.) I came across one of Dennis's wonderful quizzes -- but the thing I liked most about it wasn't his clever questions, but Dennis's own answers. I mean, this sounded like a guy who could be a friend of mine. I wrote about it on Scanners.



Today, even though we've never actually met face-to-face, Dennis is a friend of mine. And through him (or in concert with him) I've found some of my other favorite hangouts in the movie blogosphere: The House Next Door, That Little Round-Headed Boy (who's been through several other incarnations), girish, Self-Styled Siren, Cinebeats, Flickhead, If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger…, Cinema Styles, Arbogast on Film, Like Anna Karina's Sweater, The Kind of Face You Hate… There really is a community of serious-minded (but funny), knowledgeable (but not ostentatious) movie writers out there, and Dennis seems to be at or near the heart of it all.

If you've spent much time at all at SLIFR, you know why. The guy is amazing: smart, inexhaustible (how about those periodic, comprehensive LA repertory round-ups?!), articulate (clean, too), incredibly generous… and just fun to be around. Not a month has gone by since that day in 2006 that I haven't learned something really valuable from something Dennis has written. And this is a guy with a full-time job, a Lovely Wife and two Lovely Daughters, who went back to school to get an education degree, who actually teaches, and who also enthusiastically devotes himself to the celebration of drive-in movie culture. I get exhausted just thinking about him. In a good way.

What more can I say? Dennis, my most heartfelt congrats on five years of SLIFR. Long may its marquee glow!” - Jim Emerson, Scanners





"Dennis Cozzalio embodies everything I look for in a film critic. His writing is honest, informed, open-minded, sensitive, exuberant, analytical, passionately opinionated but never, ever condescending. For filmmakers, he's the perfect audience. For the rest of us, he's the ultimate movie guide." – Peet Gelderblom, filmmaker, cartoonist







“Why is SLIFR such an exemplary blog? Because Dennis Cozzalio combines a veteran historian's erudition and a great critic's perceptive eye with the infectious attitude of a lifelong enthusiast. It's a rare, heady mix that always makes for exhilarating, provocative reading. Happy anniversary!” - Glenn Kenny, film critic




“There are close to 115 million blogs out there. Technocratic estimates that 60-80 percent don't make it past the first month. Dennis has been blogging tirelessly (well, I bet he gets tired sometimes) for five years. It's hard to keep up the momentum, not to mention the creative energy. As a fellow blogger, albeit a reluctant blogger, I salute Dennis and wish SLIFR a happy 5th and many more.” – Lauren Kessler, author (Dancing with Rose, Stubborn Twig, The Happy Bottom Riding Club: The Life and Times of Pancho Barnes)




"Dennis obviously loves to write and he's damn good at it, but I find his generous spirit and willingness to support his fellow bloggers truly inspiring. He has gone out of his way to offer me words of encouragement when I really needed them and I've seen his graciousness and kindness extended to other bloggers on numerous occasions. Even though we might occasionally disagree about a film I know Dennis is more than willing to listen to my opinion and take it to heart even if we don't come to the same conclusions. His hospitality is apparent at his blog where he welcomes newcomers and old friends in an equally friendly fashion. He is truly a gentleman's blogger if there ever was one and I take off my sombrero to the man!"- Kimberly Lindbergs, Cinebeats




“In 2006, I came across Dennis's review of my movie Seed of Chucky. The review certainly was no rave. I'd call it a tepid half-appreciation. At best. But after browsing the site (and by "browsing" I mean staying up all night to rabidly consume the site's entire contents up to that date), I quickly recognized a kindred spirit -- someone whose enthusiasms could encompass both Nashville and The Boys from Brazil. I sent Dennis a note; he invited me to meet for coffee; and we've been friends and moviegoing pals ever since. As his many readers-- fellow bloggers, print critics, filmmakers, and fans alike—can attest, Dennis is one of the finest writers about movies to have emerged from the blogosphere. And as a proud member of the SLIFR community, I have had the pleasure of getting to know (at least electronically, and in a few happy cases, three-dimensionally) the various unique voices and attendant points-of-view of my fellow citizens. I also have had the pleasure of getting to know Dennis's family, and enjoy my new identity -- given to me by his daughters -- as "the guy who always watches Speed Racer and Hairspray with us."

Regular readers may have clocked, over the past few years, Dennis's seemingly growing appreciation for Seed of Chucky. If I were cynical, or even the slightest bit realistic, I might at this point question Dennis's objectivity about this particular movie. His status as a true friend, however, has never been in doubt.” – Don Mancini, writer-director



"Dennis Cozzalio could sneeze a thousand words! And some of it's actually intelligent." -- Mystery Man, screenwriter



“I started commenting on Dennis's site about two, two and a half years ago, I think. If memory serves, my first comment on SLIFR was the first comment I left on any blog, and SLIFR was the first blog of any kind I ever followed. There are several reasons for this. One is that Dennis may well be the most welcoming blogger on the planet. Every comment is appreciated, as is every opinion -- I know this, because Dennis and I have a history of disagreeing on movies, politics, and whether or not the entire sport of baseball is a complete waste of time. But Dennis has never talked down to me, or to anyone that I've ever noticed. And given how vast his knowledge of film is, he probably could have found a couple of pretty good angles for doing just that, but he never did.

So he's a very friendly guy, so friendly, in fact, that despite the fact that I've never met him in person, I do consider him a friend. An actual friend. But since SLIFR is a movie blog, it's worth repeating that Dennis knows a shit-ton about movies. I think the first time he and I ever really connected was in the comments of a post he wrote about Jonathan Rosenbaum's post-mortem takedown of Ingmar Bergman. It was a really good conversation, and at one point I said to Dennis that, because of his writing, I'd been spurred to track down and watch Raw Meat, Charley Varrick, The Man Who Never Was, The Emperor of the North Pole and The Plague of the Zombies, all of which he had praised in the preceding months. I didn't agree with his verdict on all of those films (although I didn't actively dislike any of them, and The Man Who Never Was, for example, I thought was really excellent), but Dennis had been able to communicate his enthusiasm for each in a way that made me think, "I really need to see that." And not one of those films is any kind of high profile "classic", in the institutional sense of the term -- each has a cult big enough to keep it on video, but those films are still rarely talked about. Dennis knows that this is completely irrelevant to the quality of a given movie, and he loves stumbling onto great, forgotten genre films.



Further, his complete lack of ego regarding his own tastes is truly admirable. What I mean is, if Dennis likes a film, he doesn't give a damn what the majority opinion is. He'll go to the mat for it. Not to be contrarian, but because he enthusiasm for it is genuine. And, as I said, he communicates that. He communicates it so well, in fact, that I still feel a bit of honest-to-peaches guilt over the fact that I still haven't given Speed Racer a shot. Really, I feel bad about that. I will get around to it, though, I promise. As soon as Dennis finishes reading Flicker.

Later, I started my own blog, and a few months ago, when Inglourious Basterds came out, Dennis sent me an e-mail and asked if I wanted to join him in an on-line, co-blogging conversation about it. Brother, was I honored by that. Really, of all the great film bloggers he could have asked, he asked me. I still don't know why, apart from the fact that, despite our occasional differences of opinion, Dennis and I do have a particular affinity for various genres, but the same could be said for a whole host of film bloggers. So I was truly flattered, and jumped at it. The resulting four part series of posts is an enormous highlight of my so-far brief blogging career, and not just because we got Jonathan Rosenbaum to swoop in and defend certain statements he'd made about Tarantino's film (you can all judge for yourself how successful his defense was). That series was also a highlight because for about a week I was joined at the hip with Dennis, one of the best and brightest and justifiably revered (and justifiably beloved, on a personal level) film bloggers out there. I wouldn't have been able to write half the words I ended up typing out for Inglourious Basterds if Dennis hadn't set the standard in each post, writing gleefully and intelligently about a film too many people were willing to dismiss out-of-hand. I had to step up my game, to be worthy of the association with Dennis. Whether I did or not, I don't know, but I did my best, because the last thing I wanted to do was let Dennis down.

So happy fifth anniversary, Dennis! Callooh, callay! I hope you and SLIFR hang around for about fifty more.

Also, you're a miserable bastard.” - Bill Ryan, The Kind of Face You Hate



"Dennis Cozzalio isn't just a dynamo who's running a great blog, he's also doing some of the most engaged, robust and rewarding writing about movies to be found anywhere." – Ray Sawhill, writer


“Dennis Cozzalio blogs about film the way Manny Ramirez bats on steroids, with power, timeliness, and superhuman pizazz. Cozzalio deftly expresses his cinematic insights with the verbal virtuosity of a Vin Scully, appealing to a wide-ranging audience of movie mavens and film-viewing novices." – Ivan Simon, high school teacher, San Luis Obispo, California

“SLIFR IS FIVE! In my head, a voice says ‘Slyffer.’ SLIFR, that not-a-word acronym for Sergio Leone (and the) Infield Fly Rule, is how I mentally pronounce Dennis Cozzalio’s web log. Maybe everyone does. Of the curious (and long) title, one might observe that SLIFR contains a superabundance of commentary on neither baseball nor Leone. Nor is it fixated on the Manly Pastimes of sport and violent Westerns. Why is it even called that!? Rather than a description, is a title about the feeling and spirit of the thing.

The spirit of the infield fly rule itself is to place emphasis on talent and gamesmanship rather than, say, infielders dropping pop-ups to force out pinned-down runners. It also involves the better judgment of an umpire who is paying attention to determine if the fly ‘could’ be caught. Maybe I’m exerting extraordinary effort, but there you have it: judgment call —criticism — invoked in effort to make the game more fun for everyone.

I’m just guessing again, but I believe I first read SLIFR in September of 2006, while patrolling the Internet for reactions to Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia. De Palma is one of my favorite filmmakers, one I hold near and dear — I spent a good chunk of 2006 playing De Palma in a sketch comedy revue — and over time I’ve learned deal with the usual set of blanket dismissals leveled against the director (plagiarism, misogyny, plain meanness and whatever ‘style over substance’ is supposed to mean) by dismissing them right back. I have no need or desire for critics to echo my personal opinions back to me, and if anyone feels that way, I imagine they run out of critics to read, and quick. Anyway, Dennis did not like The Black Dahlia as much as I did (i.e. — not much and very much, respectively), but that is hardly important. The piece on Dahlia starts with a mini-essay on divisions in the way the critical community grapples with De Palma, followed by reviews of reviews by esteemed SLIFR pals Matt Zoller Seitz and That Little Round-Headed Boy. And THEN he goes into lengthy notes on Dahlia’s problem areas before circling back to its place in De Palma’s filmography. This is all cool stuff that you can’t do in newspapers, and at which a good blogger excels.



See, SLIFR is a generous blog. It is not a multiple-posts-a-day place, but it is generous in a far more useful way. The Dahlia post is just an example among hundreds, but it contains an extended, engaged essay, which wrestles with the film, acknowledges personal response, and conveys a sense of community. As any regular reader knows, each season is greeted at SLIFR with an exhaustive guide to Los Angeles revival theatre screenings and an open-entry, no-prizes movie quiz. Though I am already aware of L.A. theater schedules, and the quiz responses run into triple digits, I end up reading every last word. Every time. I have to guess at when I found SLIFR because when I bumble onto an Internet spot I enjoy, I read through the archives in full.

In November, 2006, when I learned that Robert Altman had passed away, my first thought was: I wonder how Dennis is going to take this. We become invested in the tastes of our favorite critics, even if we don’t share them. All it takes to be a good, competent film writer is a sturdy knowledge of film history and skill to articulate thoughts with words. The rarer talents are ability to forge connections to other experiences (film or literature or the social sciences; whatever), see into the code that composes the text, and apply an evaluative eye with some acumen and panache. Dennis’s writing has all those qualities, but the complete mystery factors are those SLIFR offers in spades: honesty of opinion and the ballsy seductive skill to make a reader want to hear you out. That’s what it takes to put Mandingo on your 100 Favorite Movies List and to write approximately once a week about your abiding love of 1941.




I find 1941 almost impossible to finish watching, and my favorite De Palma is Body Double, a film for which I know Dennis has no great enthusiasm. The majority of the time, and on the important matters, our tastes seem pretty well aligned... but that’s not really the point. One of the reasons I tend to prefer academic film writing and critical analysis over review-oriented writers is the willingness to spend energy and effort thinking seriously about films the writer does not like. To generalize, reviewer types and most bloggers are at their weakest when faced with movies they hate or adore. Dennis’ Black Dahlia piece runs, what, 6200+ words? It is not a sin to have an opinion about movies, even a very weird opinion. The art of criticism is one of backing it up. The next morning you may realize you don’t agree, but while reading SLIFR the point of view is always thoroughly argued, well reasoned, and damned if it isn’t convincing. At the very least, the mission outlined in Post #1, has been realized: for five years SLIFR has delivered ‘genuinely considered thought, cogent analysis and good writing’ without junking up the Internet.

In addition to passion for the noble pursuits of film and baseball, I hear that Dennis has what they call a “real life,” finding time for things like jobs and enjoying his city, outdoor activity and a family he clearly cherishes. Don’t we all have those? Real lives? And it seeps into SLIFR in the best possible way. It is in pieces about taking his daughters to see Duck Soup or High School Musical 3, or boosting for local drive-in theaters, or the epic tragic-comic-romance story of chasing down Screen World volumes, that it matters that we know — or feel like we know — something about the man who holds the opinions. Intimate personal details aren’t necessary (or necessarily desirable — honestly, I know more about Harry Knowles’ digestive system than my own), but a sense of the writer’s personality, values and extracurricular interests provides warmth and context even in deep-contemplation film criticism. The focus is still on the movies, but long-term Cozzalio readers inevitably have a picture of the master of ceremonies as a well-rounded, funny, hard-working, kind and humble human being. Even if we don’t know him personally, those are qualities put forth in the content of SLIFR itself.

More succinctly: Last year a coworker asked me, ‘Hey, do you have a movie blog? You were linked by Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. It’s one of my favorites.’ ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘mine too.’” - Chris Stangl, curator, The Exploding Kinetoscope




“I'm not sure when I first became aware of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. I believe it was in the early months of 2006, perhaps sometime before that. In any event, the very title, the wondrous range of topics it implied, was something this reporter found instantly intriguing. It drew me, like a paper clip to a magnet; and passing it by simply wasn't an option. Thus did I first venture into what fast became, and remains, one of my favorite haunts in this man's blogosphere. Four years later, I still visit and read SLIFR regularly, enthusiastically . . . though admittedly I rarely comment (this is just my somewhat introverted nature at work; I often can't bring myself to leave comments on my own blogs); and still it amazes me. Not the volume of Dennis's writing, nor really with its always superb quality (the man knows whereof he writes; far more than some other, more celebrated voices in this concord). No, what continues to impress me no end about this blog is that it has created, and maintains, something very like a communal spirit within the film blogosphere; a true sense of Welcome. It is the least insular film blog in creation. I could try the patience of everyone reading these words by developing that point; detailing what an achievement that truly is. But I think everybody knows (or ought to know) the full context of what I'm saying here. To paraphrase something Gore Vidal once said about a certain print publication, SLIFR is the only film blog that more-than-adequately services its readers. I'm proud to testify before this committee that I am now, and will always be, one of them. Happy Anniversary!” - Tom Sutpen, If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats




“By now, is there anything more tiring than to listen to the web cheerleaders who, like digital-age descendants of Captain Video's gee whiz cadets, tell us all about how the internet is going to make everything just swell, tell us this even as venues disappear and the ones left have no place for writing that is anything more than an impotent knee jerk?The Internet has fucked us good and proper, and film criticism may be the most fucked of all. No longer do we have to listen to the loudmouth behind us at the multiplex because now he has his own site. Now every Ben, Luke, and Harry gets to blurt about what's wicked pissa this week with a sense of history that makes the guy in Memento seem like Henry Steele Commager.

Where the web has given us something can be found in the sites that are written, not just squirted out like canned cheese, where the writers are ignoring what's current (ie., what will be forgotten on Monday morning) in favor of what obsesses them, angers them, inspires them, makes them dream, overwhelms them. Writers like this, and Dennis Cozzalio is one, combine the fan's avidity, the critic's attention to nuance, the conjurer's ability to evoke, and the sense of interwined awe and recklessness that makes criticism worth reading and writing. It starts, I'm guessing, with a sense of being in thrall, of standing up, like a man facing a hurricane, to what thrills you, and respecting movies enough to know that what doesn't achieve that formidable power is a paltry thing. It was never easy to do this in print, never easy to write criticism that doesn't depend on fashion. But with discoveries being made all the time via DVD (and still, thank God, in rep houses) what's "old" can seem more vital, more alive, more pressing than this week's releases. I love Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule because it operates out of that loving demand for movies to be worthy of the power we've invested them with. If some time in the future, film criticism gets to throw away the crutches, it will be because people like Dennis kept making offerings to the movie gods. Screw the heathens! God save the believers. – Charles Taylor, film critic





"SLIFR was one of the first blogs I stumbled across when I entered the world of film blogging and it still remains one of my favourites. The quizzes, of course, are a big reason - answering them is fun, but even better is reading the great responses from the very long list of contributors to the SLIFR community. The main reason, though, is that Dennis brings the 'personal' to each of his posts that makes his writing and criticism so much more interesting, entertaining and, for me anyway, useful than many of the other writers out there. I prefer film criticism to inject the personal reaction to the art form and SLIFR provides that with each and every post. I may never forgive the Dodgers for "Dodger Blue Monday" (against my beloved Expos), but I can almost see myself rooting for them in your honour, Dennis..." – Bob Turnbull, Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind


"The subject is always a surprise at Dennis Cozzalio's blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Predictability is criticism's cardinal sin (and it's easiest trap), but the only thing you know for unwavering certain when going to Dennis' site is that you're going to get something up-close, in-depth & personal. Of most I'd ask forgiveness for invoking a bad Michelle Pfieffer movie to offer praise ("She eats the lens!"), but I won't with Dennis because it's entirely likely he'll publish an extended defense one day. Hey, you loved The X-Files: I Want to Believe (my brother!) and at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, anything's possible. Happy 5th Anniversary!" - Keith Uhlich, The House Next Door and Time Out New York




“There is no blog comparable to SLIFR. Bridging the gap between academia and entertainment better than any other of its ilk, Dennis C.’s sometimes endless cinemaniacal ramblings always fascinate, intrigue and amuse—without ever being self-righteous, self-serving or snarky. The film school prof you wish you had is now set to dominate a blog-niche you never knew you needed. All that, plus the best name ever! – Mike Werb screenwriter (Face/Off, The Mask)




“All good blogs are, I think, honest extensions of the personality of their proprietors. SLIFR is, by acclamation, one of the very best, and not only among cinephile sites. A scholarly, goodhearted place run by a scholarly, goodhearted fellow that takes us everywhere from the dankest realms of exploitation cinema to the joys of family and friendship, to the geekiest and most wholesome forms of bone-deep, all-around movie love, readers are hooked on SLIFR because they sense it reflects the truth of what Dennis Cozzalio is all about. There are lots of very sincere pumpkin patches on the web, but something tells me that SLIFR would be the Great Pumpkin’s favorite hangout.” – Bob Westal, Forward toYesterday and Premium Hollywood

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46 comments:

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Happy fifth blogiversary, Dennis my friend. I'd offer up something equally profound as the individuals in your post, but it's 4:00am my time and profundity needs its beauty sleep.

Kimberly said...

This was a great read, Dennis.

Loved that "Shit Pickle" clip. Too funny!

Once again... Happy blogging anniversary and I look forward to many more!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Thanks, Ivan! And thanks too for passing the word along about Edward Copeland's hiatus from blogging. I'd like to encourage everyone to get on over there and let Edward know we'll all be sending good wishes his way during his time off.

Kimberly: If only all DVD commentaries were that lively! Thanks so much for everything!

Flickhead said...

Congratulations.

Tony Dayoub said...

Congratulations, Dennis. I may have gotten on board the SLIFR train late, but this blog has become one of the ones I most anticipate reading.

J.D. said...

Congrats! I was first drawn to your blog through your excellent Altman-related posts and then all of your ANIMAL HOUSE-related posts sealed the deal. Keep on keepin' on.

Andy said...

Happy birthday, SLIFR!

Peter Nellhaus said...

Congratulations!

Moviezzz said...

Congratulations Dennis!

AKA said...

An an, until now, silent admirer of your blog, let me take this opportunity to say Congratulations! and thank you for many a fine read. Long may it continue!

Greg said...

Congratulations on five years Dennis!

Toby Roan said...

Congrats on the anniversary.

And thanks for all the inspiration, encouragement, enlightenment — and cool pictures.

Plus, you easily have the greatest blog name of all time.

bill r. said...

Happy anniversary, you crazy old so-and-so!

Burbanked said...

Happy Blogoversary, Dennis, and wishing you a (to borrow from one of your many esteemed admirers above) shit-ton more years doing that voodoo you do, so well. I'm in constant admiration and awe of your passion, knowledge, and the excitement you share for film. Thanks for your wonderful work.

blaaagh said...

Happy anniversary, Dennis! Here's to many more.

aaron said...

According to its digital reprinting over at The House Next Door, your essay "Pleasures Worthy of Guilt" was first published at 24 Lies a Second on March 21, 2005.

I would say it was a couple of days after that that I first read your intensely engrossing, always stimulating and positively infectious way of writing about film.

I was hooked then, and I remain hooked.

I'm glad to see SLIFR hasn't lost any steam these past five years, and hope to see it chugging along for another...well, let's not put a number on it.

Bob Westal said...

Happy 5th, Dennis!

And how convenient that, alphabetically, Joe Dante was the first testimonial and I was the last!

And, I probably should have added in what a great supporter you've been to me a lot of other lesser-known bloggers. There were times when I was really wondering whether I was having any kind of impact at all with anyone, and the attention you paid to certain posts I did, etc., was a real boost. And then there was the whole finding out we actually should have known each other already thing, which was just good and weird in a good way.

Kevin J. Olson said...

Dennis:

Big time congrats, my man. As I've said to you before, you and Emerson are the reasons I started blogging. Having you participate in my blog-a-thon this year was a real honor and treat. Yours continues to be the one blog I most anticipate an update from. Keep up the good work, and good luck to your Dodgers next year (they're only going to get better since they have the most talented core of young players in MLB).

Here's to many more years of blogging and continuing to open my eyes to films I never would have thought twice about: Films like Speed Racer -- which I loved; the charming and underrated Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist; and yes, even something like The House Bunny (which I highly reccomend everyone go and read his defense of Anna Farris in that movie)...a movie I never would have wasted my time on, but your blog post about how good Anna Farris was in the movie piqued my interest enough to watch it one night on Starz...the film was awful, but she was great. I never would have known that if it weren't for you. Where else can a cinephile go to hear another cinephile talk about movie like The House Bunny? And not just discuss the movies, but discuss them seriously. That is why your blog is so amazingly entertaining and enriching, Dennis.

Again, congratulations!

underdog said...

Congrats and happy anniversary, Dennis. I didn't remember to pick you up a gift but thanks for putting together one of the most fun film blogs on the Web. Go Film. Go Dodgers. Go Dennis!

Damian said...

Congratulations, Dennis, on your fifth blogging anniversary. I hope you have many, many more.

Ed Howard said...

Congratulations, Dennis. I haven't been reading from the beginning by any means, but I treasure this blog and your always witty, erudite, wide-ranging essays. As others have said, I never know what to expect when coming here except that I know it'll be great.

Craig said...

Congrats, Dennis! Keep up the unpredictable topics and the predictably great work.

That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

Congratulations, Dennis!

To paraphrase Christine McVie (and no, I have no idea why I'm paraphrasing Christine McVie), you make bloggin' fun. I would have never kept at it without your early and enthusiastic encouragement. Nobody deserves all these good wishes more than you. I've been thrilled to see how your optimism, intelligence and obsession for films has translated into your being an invaluable film source not just to fellow bloggers, but to people in the ACTUAL film community who don't get treated with such seriousness and respect elsewhere. Your openness in blending your personal life into your posts (even the difficult times) is a model for any aspiring writer. And your friendship across the e-mail lines means more than words could express.

To paraphrase The Stranger (and you definitely know why I'm paraphrasing him): "Sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's the Dennis. The Dennis, from Los Angeles...Well, I lost my train of thought here. But... aw, hell. I've done said enough."

My best to "Thom" and the kids. LA.

FilmDr said...

Happy fifth! You are a generous inspiration to us all.

Ali Arikan said...

Congratulations, mate. Love ya!

Alonzo Mosley (FBI) said...

Happy fifth anniversary, Dennis. You're a joy to tune into week after week.

(Ironically, before I even read your post, I watched "Five Came Back" last night. I think that might be the only "Five" movie you left out!)

Brian Doan said...

Happy Anniversary, Dennis! Here's to many more!

Sharon said...

I'd forgotten that you started your blog on my birthday! Well, a belated happy blog-day, Dennis, and here's to many more to come. And where the heck is the next quiz?! :-)

W.B. Kelso said...

Happy Anniversary, Dennis.

Already looking forward to the 20th Anniversary, and reading everything between now and then.

Chris Stangl said...

That is a cool De Palma interview indeed. In the coolest part, he mentions Alfred Bester's sf novel THE DEMOLISHED MAN as a dream project. I admire this book too (a lot of people must have — it was the first Hugo Award winner in 1953), and it hadn't occurred to me that De Palma should adapt it, but he is the perfect choice. The premise is that in a future where murder has been rendered "impossible" by the omnipresent psychic community, a wealthy industrialist plots the perfect murder. There are a dozen scenes that read like readymade De Palma. The psychics' conversations are depicted in e.e. cummings-esque blocks of avant-garde verse, invisible intertwining threads of thought. There is a chase through a mazelike psychedelic psychic brothel that climaxes with an assassination witnessed through a see-through floor. In an increasingly viciously satiric subplot, advertising jingles become weapons of focused destruction. The main murder itself takes place during a lights-out all-naked party game in a socialite's mansion... And it is here that THE DEMOLISHED MAN may be more than a dream project but a seminal book for De Palma: the party game is "Sardines," the childhood memory that haunts Jake Scully in BODY DOUBLE.

I have a '70s paperback whose cover trumpets that DEMOLISHED MAN is "soon to be a major motion picture!"... This obviously did not happen, but the project was, indeed, De Palma's. It is mentioned in the press notes for PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE!

aaron said...

I believe Dan O'Bannon tried to lick Bester's THE STARS MY DESTINATION, too, but that never came to fruition.

Still, I'd much rather see the De Palma-DEMOLISHED MAN, especially after your tantalizing recap of the novel. I have a '70s draft he co-wrote with THE FURY's John Farris, but in trying to re-locate it online, I've only found a draft by Oliver Stone from 1980 (also for De Palma?) -- http://www.mypdfscripts.com/unproduced/demolished-man

Patrick said...

I wish I could say something more intensely appreciative than "Thanks so much for the last five years you've given us," but sometimes simplest is best. So, thanks so much. And if you feel the need to come to the Maine International Film Festival, I demand you drop me a line.

John McElwee said...

Congratulations on five years of outstanding posts. Your birthday party was lots of fun too. Really enjoyed reading everyone's appreciation of SLIFR.

Weigard said...

Congratulations on five years, Dennis! Your blog is one of my regular stops -- your thoughtful, perceptive comments, on film or other things, are always a joy to read. Thanks for all the work you put in! For an anniversary present, here's another "5" poster -- even a bit of Oregon connection. :)

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm150770688/tt0091949

Jeff McMahon said...

Congrats, Dennis, and keep up the good work! Next time you head over to the New Beverly announce it and I'll try and find you.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Flickhead, Peter, Moviezzz: You guys have been around here from pretty early on and I definitely consider it an honor that you have stuck around this long. Your own writing about films on your own estimable blogs have led me to many a wonderful discovery. Ray, you restoked my interest in Performance, which I never saw before your posts on it-- Peter, I can thank you for steering me toward Tropical Malady and “Joe” Weerasethakul in general, and all manner of other gems of Thai cinema—and Moviezzz, your notes on Inchon have gotten me interested all over again in seeing this twisted (and buried) bit of film history. Thanks to all y’all for being great friends of this blog.

Tony: We’ll always have Inglourious Basterds and the brushes with greatness that came of that, won’t we? Thanks for reading!

J.D.: Animal House and Altman are excellent things to have in common around here! Genuinely glad you were able to be seduced with them! Thanks for all your support.

AKA: I hope this breach in your silence means that the floodgates are irreparably open and that you’ll be a regular part of the conversation around here. Thanks for your kind words!

Andy, Greg, Damian, Underdog, Craig, Film Dr.: Thanks so much for all your good wishes and the support of your readership. Even if you’re just lurking, it’s really good to know you’re there and enjoying the read. (And thanks for the Dodgers shout-out too, Underdog. The 2010 season is gonna be, um, interesting.)

Toby: I’m really glad I found your site this summer. It’s a browser’s delight! And thanks for the comment on the site name. I almost changed in about a year into this experiment, and I’m so glad I didn’t.

Burbanked: I’m so glad I managed to figure out a way to keep you coming around here. I really enjoy your blog too, even though I lurk far more than I participate. (And this is true across the board for every blog I read.) It means a lot to me to have you stop by, and I really appreciate the generous thought you expressed here. May we all write till we just can’t write no more!


(Part Two to follow)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Aaron: Oh, man, you really are one of the originals! You and Peet and Ray and Brian Darr were among the very first from out in the real world, beyond my circle of friends and relatives, who really contributed to the momentum and excitement I felt upon getting things going around here in the early days. It was Ray’s initial enthusiasm, and your facility with getting screen grabs, that made the Angie Dickinson Blog-a-Thon such a fun time and such an attention-grabber. Your knowledge of Corman history has been a constant source of amazement to me. And I’m really proud to count you among the folks I’ve gotten to know trough the blog and have actually met in 3-D space! Thanks for being a valued friend. Oh, and Clu Gulager says hello!

Bob: I was very happy that Joe Dante topped the alphabetical list, but actually I was tempted to lead off with Mystery Man’s comment, as it was so hard-boiled and hilarious! But on no list, alphabetical or otherwise, should you consider yourself last-- although that Great Pumpkin line did make for a punchy send-off! How great that we finally got to meet at the Egyptian, and for Seed of Chucky, of all things. (For those who don’t know, Bob is a self-proclaimed gore-a-phobe.) And naturally, the next time we managed to get together was at the drive-in for the Drag Me to Hell party. (Bob, when’s Hostel III coming out? Just curious.) I really appreciate your constant support and your always interesting and provocative contributions to the conversations we have around here. Those conversations aren’t as long and thorny as they are on some sites, but that’s okay, as long as funny and sharp folks like you are in the mix, because that means that everything that is said will be worth reading. Thanks for coming along for and being such an integral part of the ride!

Kevin: Whenever I hear of someone actually checking out a movie I’ve recommended that may not be in the usual circle of films that get a lot of critical push or cache, it makes me feel like I’ve contributed something. It doesn’t matter to me whether the person who does the investigating agrees with me or not—I just consider getting someone else eyes on a movie like Speed Racer or Mandingo or Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist a small victory in itself. (Now, when will you realize that The House Bunny is a GREAT FILM????!!!!  ) And I’ve never felt that just because a movie may be a trifle that one is required to condescend to it in order to talk about it. Kevin, I always enjoy what you have to say, here and at Jim’s, and I will hand that compliment about the Giallo blog-a-thon right back to you—it was an honor to be asked and to be included among what turned out to be an eye-opening (and occasionally eye-popping and gouging) collection of good writing about a genre that doesn’t get much in the way of really good writing digging into it. SLIFR is much richer for your presence, Kevin. And you’re an Oregonian! And a Duck fan! (How about that squeaker last night, eh?) What else need be said?!

Ed: I like the unexpected too, and I’m glad you’re found room on your bookmarks list for this blog. I found your blog Only the Cinema a couple of years ago and have always been glad I did. (For some reason, I always want to sing the title in a manly falsetto while wearing oversized sunglasses.) Your intelligence informs your writing with force but never with pretension. And I really enjoyed your tag-team Inglourious Basterds talk with Jason Bellamy too. I think we all did that movie, and ourselves, proud this past summer. Thanks for stopping in and taking part, Ed!

(Part Three to Follow)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Ali: Ever since we met in person you’ve been stalking me. Now stop it! Just kidding, folks! On the contrary, meeting you this past summer was on of the real highlights of producing this blog, because it proved that the genuine ad enthusiastic persona you project on your own blog and on Jim’s and others is not assumed—you are one of the most affable and fun people I’ve ever met, and I will always be thankful for SLIFR for the opportunities it has created for me to met people like you. My daughters still wear and treasure the Turkish evil eye pendants you gave to them! And I treasure time the time we had spent talking movies and the world, even though it was about five hours too few! Thanks for all the good vibes, my friend, and may they be returned to you a hundredfold!

Alonzo: Ironically, I was searching for Five Came Back and I could not find a decent poster for it. Bet it’s a pretty good film though! Not long ago I saw Midnight Run on a double with Freebie and the Bean and I got a lot of amusement from Yaphet Kotto ever time he came on screen, which was added to by your association with his character’s name. (Just a guess, but you are neither as physically imposing nor as cranky as your namesake.) Thanks so much for your great video essays and for sticking with the action around here too. It really does mean a lot. Oh, and here’s the most important question: How’s parenthood treating you?!

Sharon: Now that we’re on Facebook I really have no excuse for not knowing (especially after knowing you fro 15 years already) that November 15 was your birthday. Well, salute and happy birthday to you and the blog! Coincidentally, the next quiz is up tomorrow—I dg around my own brain and came up with about 40 questions and then solicited for some and got about 10-12 more good ones. This will either be the longest quiz in SLIFR history, or the spring quiz will have already been half written! Thanks for the good wishes. Now get thee to Fantastic Mr. Fox-- it’s great!

W.B.: I know you know this, but with a moniker like that you’re welcome here anytime! And I will look forward to your chiming in around hear for the next 20 years too! Thanks for being the craziest son of a bitch I ever saw!

(Part Four--jeez-- to follow!)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Chris: I’ll have more for you in the next post, but I just had to say that, like Aaron, your description of The Demolished Man made me chase down a copy as soon as I shut down my computer. I stopped by to see if Jerome had a copy but alas, he had none. But he quickly directed me across the street where Christine at Bookfellows had a paperback edition, a hardcover and a “vintage” hardcover from which to choose. I gravitated toward the paperback, which was cheapest and vintage to boot-- an early ‘60s Signet paperback in very good condition with appropriately yellowed pages. But I hadn’t much confidence in the integrity of the spine glue after 40-some years, so I upped my budget $5 and went with the nicer hardbound version—not the vintage one. I cannot wait to dig into this book, which really does promise to offer even further insight into the origins of DePalma’s storytelling style, as well as offer a compelling read on its own. I’ll catch up with you when I finish it. (Stop laughing, Bill.)

And is this the ‘70s paperback edition to which you refer, which seems to be hinting at De palma’s as-yet-unrealized film?

Patrick: Believe me, sincerity speaks many more volumes than word count. Thanks so much for hanging around through the best and the worst. And would you mind sending me a link to that festival? Always wanted to try a Maine lobster fresh from the sea…

John: You are truly one of the good ones, and it’s always fun to mine your incredible oracle of knowledge about Hollywood films at your blog. Thank so much for the buff-up of my reputation by association!

Weigard: Thanks for the props and the poster! Am I just imagining it, or was Short Circuit shot in Central Oregon? I feel like I’m hallucinating it because that’s where I saw the movie.

Jeff: You got it! Only, can I announce it here? Because I’d feel really weird walking into the New Beverly and shouting, “I’m here! I’m here! Jeff, where are you?! I have arrived!” Thanks for all your support and for reading this virtual rag!

(No!!! Part Five? Here it comes...)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

That Little Round-Headed Boy: Thanks for invoking the spirit of one of the great movies in your overwhelming comment. I always thought this bit from the Stranger would be good adapted to our situation here too: “'Course I ain't never been to London, and I ain't never seen France. And I ain't never seen no queen in her damned undies, so the feller says. But I'll tell you what - after seeing SLIFR unfold, well, I guess I seen somethin' every bit as stupefyin' as you'd seen in any of them other places. And in English, too.” Regardless of what you quote from that endlessly quotable classic, I hope you know what your support and encouragement has meant to me over the course of our friendship. You were always a source of inspiration for me, and endless encouragement, but also of constructive criticism too (I remember tangling over V for Vendetta early on, and that you didn’t give up on me after that speaks volumes.) Just knowing you’re out there and doing the good work you do, on your own blog, ephemeral as it sometimes seems, and at the newspaper, giving us reason each day to believe that print is far from dead, is reason enough for me to keep on truckin’. Your knowledge of pop culture (especially music) often shames me and makes me realize how limited my own really is. But I take some inspiration from that too, because you always give me god reason for wanting to follow through on the artist with which I am far less familiar than I should be. My only regret, Larry, is that, of all the friends I’m made since this blog began, you are one of two that I have yet to meet which would mean the most to me if and when I do. Yet, strangely, as close as an e-mail can get, on some level I feel like I have met you, and though I will not let that feeling stand in between me and finally getting to shake your hand in person, I am grateful for it nonetheless. Thanks for being an excellent friend, both to this blog and to me personally. You’re one of the main reasons why I feel like I not only can go into another five years, but why I should.

Blaaagh: Beside my dear wife “Thom,” you’re the first one I ever told about this enterprise because you’re my best friend and you were always trying to kick my butt and make me figure out a way to get out there and start writing again. I’m glad you did, and I’m glad I did, and I’m even gladder that you’ve been an integral playa from the first post. I could and can always count on you to come up with something good to keep the conversation going or challenge me when I get the facts wrong or otherwise come up with something else on the loopy side. And you’re always there with your unwavering support. Thanks so much! I love you!

Brian and Bill, I’ll catch up with you guys on the next post.

That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

Oh, we'll meet, don't know how, don't know when, but it will be a fine day. I'm convinced of it.

rob humanick said...

There's a very, very long list of reasons why I'm pissed that my computer got eaten by a virus recently. Not being able to contribute a passage of appreciation in time for this epic birthday bash is the latest among them. Maybe it can be retroactively incorporated into the mix? (Don't make me do a Spritle impersonation via begging, 'cuz I will.)

Aside from having the most awesomely offbeat title of any blog, movie related or not, ever, Dennis' work continually sets the bar higher for the rest of us. I can't decide what I appreciate more about his efforts: the seemingly effortless manner in which he can write a bible's worth of text on virtually any topic, or the refreshing lack of bias apparent in his perspectives on everything from new releases to classics, CGI-heavy spectacle to the independent. SLATIFR is an oasis amidst the desert of the online world. We're all a little saner with it here.

Weigard said...

I'm pretty sure the main part of the filming for Short Circuit was around Astoria, but they probably traveled around, so there may well be Central Oregon in there too. It's been too long since I've seen it!

Oh, also, meant to mention to you, in case you missed it, that there was an article in the Oregon alumni magazine a month or two ago from another Animal House participant. Let me know if you didn't see it -- I've got a copy somewhere.

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