Back in college I was fortunate enough to have a good friend, Jon McNeill, serve as a film columnist for the powerful The Collegian, Willamette University’s finest (read: only) newspaper. This meant that not only did I have the pleasure of reading Jon’s commentary on the state of 21st-century cinema, but I also occasionally could disagree with him on the merits of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Crossroads. My friendship with Jon proved particularly fruitful when his cowriter in crime, the inimitable Steve Duman, suffered the authorial equivalent of pulling a hamstring and remained sidelined in Europe for the Spring 2003 semester. I was called up from the minor leagues for a cup of coffee. January through May is not exactly a haven for Oscar-fare, but Jon and I had fun traipsing to such delights as Cradle 2 the Grave (DMX, WHAT?!), Willard and Identity. The Collegian’s mailboxes were filled with angry mail when we panned The Pianist after catching it on its second run through art houses. Actually, there was just one piece of angry mail, but the editors had the kindness to run it so as to prove we had a reader. It probably came from Steve. 

Steve, Jon and I love film because we are creators ourselves. Jon and Steve wrote and directed a mind-bending double-feature their senior year, while I got hooked into a friend’s project, which I think was a documentary about cursing. We shot the bull on Truffaut and Godard in film class before retreating to our rooms to write essays arguing that Jules et Jim, not Breathless, marked the beginning of “The French New Wave” (which is, of course, the kind of mad thing a college-level cinephile would argue).

I missed those times and —— because my film education has continued since college —— I didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t have them again. Thus, Jon, Steve and I decided to start a blog to discuss films both past and present. The premise was simple: We would decide on a movie to see, go see it, and discuss it. However, Steve’s old hamstring injury flared up again, and he e-mailed us from Europe in between sips of tea while doing his taxes to inform us that, Hey, the movies here are different. We pushed on anyway, altering the format to fit the constraints. And we made it a whole few months before I moved to Sudan, where there are no movies at all.

That was 15 years ago. And now we’re starting fresh (gone are our posts on No Country for Old Men and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), just for fun. Because all that working from home has cleared out a couple hours in our schedule.

Since this blog is not entitled “Film Autocracy” or “Cinema Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” it’s worth noting that your opinion counts for something but that not all opinions are equal. If you stan F9, please move along. Comment, discuss, disagree with us. We’re trying to learn something from Film School.

-Jeff Benson

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