“I Look A Little Older, But I Feel No Pain”

That title is a lyric from a favorite Warren Zevon song, “Lord Byron’s Luggage” (a song that’s also noteworthy for successfully building a rhyme around the term persona non grata).  It seemed an apt description for how I’m feeling as I look back on 2011.

It’s not a bad view, as these things go.

When you’re in the midst of one or another project, you may spare a few thoughts about your year so far.  But those are often based less on how the year is really going than on how that specific thing you’re trying to do is going.  It’s not until the best and worst are actually over that you really know how best and worst they really were.

All of which, of course, is a roundabout way of saying it was a good year.  Sure, there are a few things I wish had turned out differently – that’s just part of being human.  But I’d like to think I learned a few things along the way.  For example, I learned that if you want a good, 21st-century Indiana Jones movie, and you have to choose between the guys who made Raiders of the Lost Ark and the guy who directed that unfortunate remake of The Wolfman, you go with the guy who remade The Wolfman

I’ve realized that I’m a bit of a rare type.  While I understand the complaints that people often have at year’s end, for me, it’s always a good year for film & TV – first, because any year that gives us a season of Breaking Bad is a great year just by default; and second, because whatever crap is released (or, to borrow from that old saying, escapes) in a given twelve months, there’s always solace in something that came before.  If you were disappointed in Series 6 of Doctor Who, the classic series is waiting for you (check out Day of the Daleks for one great example).  If you’re not thrilled with what the modern action film has become, Pelham One Two Three is there for the taking.  The past more than makes up for the present.

In fact, it’s interesting that among 2011’s new releases, the films that most moved me are the two films that most strongly embraced the past.  Martin Scorsese’s Hugo was kind of glorious, at once a fairy tale, a history lesson, and a love letter/thank-you note for that moment when film became art.  And just as “Uncle Marty” paid tribute to the beginning of the silent era, Michel Hazanavicius gave its end a beautiful elegy in The Artist.  Like Hugo, it’s the kind of film that makes you fall in love with movies all over again (or at least with Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, who are both wonderful in it).  Someone really needs to put these on a double bill…

So, in retrospect, 2011 was a great year just for what I saw.  And then there’s what I did…

Working alongside Nikki and the rest of the PrimaDonna team, I was behind the curtain – literally, by the end – on a pretty eclectic range of projects.  Three Yellow RosesRomantic FoolsThe Love ListEugene (our SA48HR Film Experience project, which brings us another lesson of the year: The surest way to guarantee rain in San Antonio is to build a film competition around the theme of drought).  And that doesn’t even include the classes and showcases and panels I worked on.

Anybody who really knows me knows that I hold myself to a VERY high standard.  In 2011, like every year, I challenged myself, and so was challenged, to live up to that standard.  I’m not sure I always made it, but I gave it all I had, I learned a hell of a lot in the process, I made some friends along the way, and I’m proud of what I accomplished.  What more can you ask of a year?

As I write this, 2011 has a little under 16 hours left in it.  It’s time to call a wrap on the year and look ahead to 2012.  For my part, I’ll continue to do my part on The Arrangement and all of PrimaDonna’s and Nikki’s projects.  I’m looking forward to starting a couple of projects of my own to bring to them.  And of course, I’ll continue to chronicle the whole thing here – my experiences, my impressions, basically me.

Thanks for following along this year.  It’s been great sharing 2011 with you, and I hope you’ll be around for 2012.

Until then, for a valediction I’ll go back to Warren Zevon’s lyrics, this time from the haunting “Ourselves to Know”:

Now if you make a pilgrimage I hope you find your grail
Be loyal to the ones you leave with even if you fail
Be chivalrous to strangers you meet along the road
As you take that holy ride yourselves to know

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