Those of you who are subscribers of FlickFilosopher will have already received several issues of my new newsletter Movie Cheat Sheet. It’s the biggest bonus so far that I’ve given to those who are financially supporting my work here. It’s a big bonus because those who aren’t FlickFilosopher subscribers will have to pay a buck a week (around 60p if you’re paying in pounds sterling) to get the Cheat Sheet.
Here’s how Movie Cheat Sheet came about: Invariably, when I meet new people and tell them what I do, they say, “Oh, I love movies!” Everybody loves movies, right? But not everybody wants to read a thousand words on, say, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter just to learn that it’s a kickass action fantasy. Not everybody cares what the underlying cultural context is for Lawless. And that’s fine. These folks just need to know what’s worth seeing at the multiplex this week, when they feel like going out, and what’s worth renting or streaming for their regular Friday-night-at-home-with-pizza chill-out.
But I don’t think those people are being well served by the Internet movie sphere — in fact, I don’t think they are being served by it at all. I’m constantly astonished, actually, that so many supergeeky fanboyish movie sites seem to be able to survive posting the same litany as all the other sites of casting news and sequel announcements and bitching over how so-and-so totally screwed up that comic-book adaptation. It’s great that those kinds of really serious movie fans have all those options. It’s mysterious to me, however, that more casual movie fans seem to be lacking any option.
Part of why the Cheat Sheet is an email newsletter — as opposed to a Web site — is because those casual fans have neither the time nor the desire to go in search of movie recommendations. They need those recs to come to them in the quickest, easiest way possible. And so Movie Cheat Sheet offers subscribers two emails per week, one covering new multiplex releases, the other covering new DVD releases and classics now available to stream, in two editions: one for the U.S. and Canada, the other for the United Kingdom (which also includes the Republic of Ireland). For those subscribers curious about what’s happening on the side of the pond opposite them, they can take both editions at no extra cost. (The newsletter is also designed to look great and be easy to read on a smartphone. Dreaming big, I see a standalone app in the Cheat Sheet’s future.)
In each edition, one featured movie gets a complete rundown covering what it’s about, whether it’s appropriate for kids, whether it’s more art than entertainment or vice versa, whether (for multiplex releases) your experience would be diminished if you waited for DVD, and other quick-hit coverage. All the other releases that week, as well as other ongoing releases, get a traffic-light rating and a quick description; some films will have links to get more complete coverage à la the featured film. It’s designed to be as “objective” as it’s possible for a subjective review to be, so that readers can make their own decision whether a film might appeal to them.
If you haven’t seen those early issues and want to get a better idea how useful this will be to you, check out some sample issues at TheMovieCheatSheet.com. You can subscribe to the Cheat Sheet there, too.
And hey, Movie Cheat Sheet makes a great gift for the holidays! When you subscribe, you can designate any email address to receive the newsletters*, and if you choose the gift option, your recipient will receive a special welcome email alerting them to your generosity. If you are a serious movie fan, you’re probably used to people asking you what movies are worth seeing. This would be a great way to give them that advice every week. (*You have that option whether your subscription is a gift or not. You don’t have to get the emails at the same address you use for PayPal or Amazon Payments.)
(If you’re a FlickFilosopher subscriber and you have not received the Movie Cheat Sheets, please drop me an email, and we’ll get it fixed.)