Welcome to Thirty, Flirty + Film!
It's finally here! The day has come! Well, technically speaking the day isn't until tomorrow, but we wanted to send out a special early issue to each of you lovely people to give you the details of how this newsletter will be run. Zosha and I wanted this space to be something that was ours. But we also wanted it to challenge us, so the premise of the project is built into the name: hot takes and cultural criticism in 30 minutes or less. And we do mean that literally. We were inspired by Matt Zoller Seitz's 30 Minutes On column over at RogerEbert.com. We've adapted the rules a bit, but the general idea is the same. Neither of us is 30 yet, but we love puns and we love movies, so here we are—Thirty, Flirty + Film. Ten comedy points if you get the reference. So while you wait for our debut bright and early in the (west coast) morning, here are the basics so you can follow along: THE RULES™
Each issue will have two essays on two different film or television shows*, loosely arranged by a weekly theme.
All reviews will be written within a strict time constraint of 30 minutes. Free writing baby!
Reviews can take any form and include any supplemental materials desired (links, gifs etc), as long as they are included within the allotted 30 minutes.
No note-taking! You can look things up for reference while writing but no taking notes while watching the film.
No issue will be written entirely by one author.
*We know it's called "30 Flirty & Film" but the pun holds up and it's our newsletter so we'll do what we want! We're going to limit the amount of TV we post, so bear with us if you're really in it for the Films™️.
It's likely that we'll add or relax rules as this project continues, but those will probably stay between us, so that you don't yell at us for fudging it. But for the most part, the idea is to force ourselves to concretize our ideas in a limited time frame, and fight against the tendency to languish over the actual writing. God alone knows what we'll accomplish, but mostly we're just hoping to work through our Netflix queue.
We'd also like to note that earlier this week, Matt Zoller Seitz lost his wife, Nancy. She was an amazing woman, and she died from cancer. There aren't words for how profoundly hard this moment is for Matt and his family, but what he recommends is celebrating her life by donating to Transform, the charity she helped found. Transform gives free donated clothing to transgender kids and helps them create a new look for themselves. We know everyone is struggling now, but if you're able to give it'll go a long way.
And with that, we're off to the races!
Zosha Millman twitter: @zosham instagram: @zoshananigans website: zoshananigans.com
Oh howdy, I'm Zosha! Although my intro blurb is going on top, Cate actually wrote hers first, which is making me painfully aware of how inadequate this introduction is about to be. Suffice it to say: I had a fairly slow awakening to the idea that one could be a professional critic. I refused to pen myself into a single area of anything, whether it was a major or a genre focus; I wanted to learn a little bit of anything about everything. So eventually I tripped my way into journalism, and from there it's been a slow crawl to what I do now — namely, write, with a focus on film and TV.
I'm in journalism, so I'm no stranger to writing for free on the internet. Whether it was a movie review blog started with a best friend or whatever random internship I could scrounge up for a quarter, I took whatever opportunities came my way to build up my chops. As such I've done almost anything and everything in a newsroom — including heading out for grad school.
Luckily USC's grad school allowed me to take classes in any college I wanted (hellooo school of the cinematic arts!) and introduced me to some pretty rad-ass co-conspirators like Cate. Both of us love movies, love TV, love talking about both of those things, have both been reviewing movies for a long time, and love a slight kick in the pants to get us to put those loves to good use. To be perfectly frank, the goal of this newsletter is primarily to get us to do just that. But we (I guess this is just my part of the intro, so I'll speak for myself) I hope it helps me puzzle through some of the trickier things about reviewing: What thread do you tug at when a movie seemed fine but not "for you"? How do you write about a movie that's so good it feels like it swallows your brain whole? What about when the movie you hate makes some credible points? One of the things I love most about film criticism is the balance of how deeply personal a take can be, while also being so thoughtfully argued that it can sway another person's subjective point of view. Which is all to say: I love puzzling through films, I love talking about those thoughts, and I love hearing other people's takes. So please watch movies and @ me about them.
Cate Young twitter: @battymamzelle instagram: @battymamzelle website: cate-young.com
Cheers! I'm Cate obviously, and I'm so pleased to inform you that my three very expensive degrees have brought me here, to the pinnacle of my career—writing for free on the internet! When Zosha came to me with this idea and asked me to participate, I was flattered, but also DESPERATELY HAPPY TO HAVE SOMETHING TO DO. We've been planning this launch for a month, and writing the essays that are currently sitting in our drafts was the most fun I've had in ages. With graduation, my birthday and several job interviews cancelled or postponed, it was thrilling to have something to focus on. Our completely arbitrary time limit adds a little bit of adrenaline to an exercise that truthfully, can get a little repetitive over time. Restricting myself like this has become something of a dare: how good am I really at this whole writing deal? Can I prove it in 30 minutes or less?
I'm most excited to finally have a reason to revisit some of the films I've loved over the last few years that I never got to cover. I'm also excited to finally get around to some of the films I didn't see because no assignment meant that they dropped to the bottom of my priority list. This project is the most amped I've been about anything in forever, and that includes finally getting into therapy and coming out as bisexual. (Miraculously the two aren't really related!) Participating in this newsletter has helped remind me why I love movies and why I love writing about movies, and I hope that I'll be able to bring my irrational enthusiasm to the page for you to read.
As a rule, I'll watch anything (except Tarantino unless I'm being forced, Clockwork Orange style), but I'm particularly fond of sentient robots, dystopian futures and time travel. Basically the Terminator series was made for me alone. I also love romantic comedies, action films with minimal murder and Queer Hjinks™. If you sense a theme in my coverage, there it is. I write from a feminist critical perspective, and my writing is deeply rooted in a political understanding of the world, so, do expect that. If you don't like politics... welcome? But if that is your thing, then we're gonna get along just fine baby!
We're doing this under shelter-in-place laws, so video stores are, officially, not an option. As such, here's a list of the streaming services we have access to so you can watch along there if you're interested: we'll be pulling from Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Disney+, Starz, Hulu, Showtime, Criterion Channel and Kanopy. At the end of each issue, we'll try our best to let you know in advance what films we'll be writing about next, but—*waves at the world*—no guarantees. As with everything else, our editorial calendar will be in as much flux as we need it to be to get through this.
And lastly, as this is a film criticism newsletter, we will be discussing the plots of the films we cover. So, consider this a blanket spoiler warning for the entire project. If you don't want to be spoiled, no worries! But we'd recommend you save the issue and get back to it when you can. We're here to YELL 👏ABOUT 👏MOVIES 👏and we don't plan to make anything off limits, but it doesn't mean you have to adhere to our personal timelines.
We're so, so glad and grateful that you've decided to come on this journey with us and we are positively vibrating with excitement to show you what we've been working on. We both love movies so much and we're still reeling from the (very necessary) closure of movie theaters due to social distancing guidelines. We don't know when we'll next be able to sit in the dark at the Alamo Drafthouse and with a massive bowl of popcorn and silently get very drunk while having the time of our lives. But we do know that we can keep each other (and you!) company over these next few months by creating a space to talk about the movies we love, and some we don't. So we invite you to read, enjoy, engage and participate with us as much or as little as you want. In our first issue: Lady Macbeth and Klute.
We'll be here regardless, yelling about movies.
Zosha + Cate <3
PS: We're hosting a live-tweet to celebrate our launch! Join us tonight, Thursday 30th April 2020 at 5PM PST/8PM EST to watch the surprisingly gay classic Bend It Like Beckham on Hulu! We're gonna gawk at baby Kiera Knightly and pooh-pooh at a grown man dating a teenager! Use #movieyelling on Twitter (or Instagram!) to join the conversation. We can't wait to read your clever tweets!