Movie reviewing is a good gig -- it's indoor work, mostly spent in a dark room on one's tush, staring at a big screen. But sometimes it's fun to get out of the theater and join the human race -- in front of the computer.
Some of my favorite moviegoing experiences this season haven't been at the multiplex, or even in an art house; they've been at Web sites dedicated to satirizing, preserving and providing insightful commentary on film fans' beloved Seventh Art. Here's a sampling of what this critic has been forwarding to friends and/or visiting every day:
http://www.ps260.com/molly/SHINING%20FINAL.mov : You've got, got, got to see this clever send-up of smarmy trailers that can reduce even the hard-edged Gothic horror to cutesy-poo pablum. In a world where you're assaulted by an endless string of trite, formulaic ads every time you go to the theater, this little teaser -- for an adorable coming-of-age dramedy called "Shining"-- restores your faith in humankind. Or at least great film editors.
http://www.angryalien.com/ : A Post copy editor recently turned me on to this site, where animator Jennifer Shiman adapts Hollywood classics and contemporary blockbusters into 30-second synopses starring cartoon bunnies. And parents, be warned: Just because the words "cartoon" and "bunnies" appeared in that sentence doesn't mean this is kid stuff. Sly, hilarious and occasionally profane and violent, Shiman's dramatizations are also frighteningly efficient Cliffs Notes to some of filmdom's most cherished chestnuts. (My faves: "Jaws" and "It's a Wonderful Life.")
· http://www.archive.org/ : Click on "Moving Images" to stream or download from the Internet Archive's collection of 20,000 films that either aren't copyrighted or whose copyright has expired. You can see some fascinating stuff here, including vintage cartoons, Universal newsreels and films commissioned by the government during World War II to support the war effort. Warning: This site is totally addictive for cinema history buffs.
· http://www.okgo.net/ : Okay, it's not really a movie, but count me in as one of the thousands of fans who need to watch OK Go's music video for its song "A Million Ways" at least once a day. A simple recording of the four male members of the Chicago-based band dancing in lead singer Damian Kulash's back yard, "A Million Ways" is compulsively watchable, at once goofy and highly accomplished, as otherwise flat-footed guys nail moves made famous in "West Side Story," "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "The Matrix" -- in one take . (The routine was choreographed by Kulash's sister, adding to the cheerful, do-it-yourself vibe.) I defy you to watch it only once.
· http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ : This is the blog of Jeffrey Wells, a Los Angeles-based film writer and critic who offers pithy, insightful observations about the industry as well as smart reviews of movies he's just seen at advance screenings and festivals. A nifty compendium of gossip, reflection and old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting, this is the first thing I go to in the morning (even before the OK Go video). A must-visit for cinéastes as well as garden-variety fans, Hollywood Elsewhere manages to be lively without being snarky and enthusiastic without being overweening. A rarity and a gem.