Okay, we said we were closing down back in December, but we really mean it this time. Nevertheless, MostlyFilm has TEN BLOODY DAYS of premium content for you before we pull down the shutters, with one or two new posts every day from now until Oscar night and beyond. To introduce our week-and-a-bit of wonders, here’s CaulorLime’s elegy to how we started and where we’re finishing.
We’re off, basically. We’ve been doing this for seven years now and, to be totally honest, it’s getting to be a bit of a drag. The wide eyed innocents of 2011 are all weighed down now with things like mortgages and children and enlarged prostates and drug habits and Bitcoin portfolios. Normal, middle-aged stuff. Also, we’re a practically prehistoric medium, now. We’re essentially a magazine pressed to the screen and, in this new-fangled world of pivoting to video and lists where number 8 will shock you, well, we struggle to fit in. I could put that Steve Buscemi “fellow kids” gif in here except I don’t know how to and that sort of proves my point. Also, I’d want to discuss how it comes from the sixth season of 30 Rock, how he actually says “fellow teens” which is funnier and how the show was already on the wane by that point. And you’d like to read that – shut up, yes you would – but I haven’t got the time to write it.
Today is February 25th and that’s an important date for us. We weren’t born then – the internet midwife didn’t lovingly extract us, slap our arse and fail to assign a gender until six weeks later, on April 4th. But February 25th 2011 was the date of the sudden, and frankly a bit traumatic, closure of the Guardian talkboards. One of those was called Film Unlimited, only we always called it FU, and it’s where we all met.
I’m not going to go into all that again, it’s been covered by us and others in the past. It’s a date worth commemorating not because a lot of people felt dumped but because some of them found another home, and decided to create something from the ashes. FU had to exist for us all to meet, but it had to die before MostlyFilm could come into being. The Guardian, back when they still loved us, called us “The most intelligent film community on the web” and we wanted to keep that alive. When we came to write our own legend, though, we went both bolder and more parochial. We were “Europe’s best website.” Damned straight.
Our first post was a wonderful piece, a comparison of Alex Cox’s 1984 Repo Man with Repo Chick, the recently, and barely, released sequel. That piece was wry, witty, composed and intelligent – everything we wanted to be. It was written by Spank The Monkey, who is currently serving as our final editor; my first piece, an even handed and neutral review of some Jamie Oliver TV excrescence, came a week later. In the interim we’d had film reviews, film essays, music writing (both pop and dad), art and politics. Most of the writers in those first two weeks continued to write for MostlyFilm for the length of its life and many more wonderful voices joined with them.
We learned, or had confirmed at least, some interesting things about the world along the way – not least about search engine optimisation. It’s always been a source of real delight to me that our most popular article, by some margin, is a long and detailed review of Bertolucci’s 1900, a seldom-seen, five hour long, historical epic from 1976. The fact that close to forty thousand people have read Matthew Turner’s careful unpicking of the film’s treatment of the rise of socialism and fascism through the deeply personal lens of Bertolucci’s own southern Italian childhood is wonderful, never mind that most of them got there because they Googled “small boy handjob”. Similarly, Philip Concannon’s intelligent treatment of three dramatisations, of wildly differing quality, of the same crime would, I’m sure, have made the same numbers if he hadn’t named it The Only Way Is Essex. My one regret about the demise of MostlyFilm is that I never got to write my scholarly treatise about the Shaft films and call it Big Black Dicks. The crown could have been mine!
Spank is, like I said, our last editor, but he certainly isn’t the only one we’ve had. MostlyFilm has always had a basically ad hoc system where we volunteer to edit each other’s work, but even that excuse for a system requires an overseeing, all powerful and frankly hassled being to make it work. On top of that, of course, there is all the scut work of scheduling, arranging screenings and press passes and always, always, chasing writers for promised content. This site has existed on the exhausted backs of a dedicated group of people who have taken on this mantle, often more than once. I’m not going to name them because that isn’t how it works, and I’d be terrified of missing someone out, but from someone who never had the courage or commitment to take on the role himself, thank you very much.
It was never going to last forever and, whatever some insane Doctor Who fans insisted along the way, none of us ever got paid or anything. MostlyFilm was always a labour of love. We still love it, but the labour’s getting the better of us. We want to go out in style and so, for the next week or so, we’ll be publishing a few valedictory pieces, round-ups of the last seven years and one last run around for some of our most beloved writers before we all get taken to a farm two towns over. We’ve loved being MostlyFilm, and we hope you’ve enjoyed it alongside us. Peace.