Two Years at You Remind Me of the Frame

You Remind Me of the Frame began around the same time I received my degree in the mail. We were passing the third month of Covid restrictions, and I found myself home alone with zero purpose. I had just finished writing a lengthy thesis, and tidied my TA position, but that left me with no projects or jobs to work on. I kept telling myself that things would be easier in a few months, once everything re-opened and it would be safe to see people again. My mom works at a medical clinic, so I was always paranoid that I might catch it from that and accidentally spread it to friends and family, or vice versa, catch it, and give it to my mom and a bunch of doctors. I am privileged enough to be in a place where I could take some time to stay at home, thanks mom, especially as those unpresented months quickly bled into years. I was terrified; of leaving the house, of becoming a failure, of not being enough to warrant whatever sacrifices and investments people had put into me. Not much of that has gone away, but above those was the fear that I would forget how to write, that I would stumble into some void like I did most summers when school broke. The blog was an attempt to sway that anxiety, so whatever writing skill I had gained from my degree wouldn’t just disappear while I was stuck. I knew I had to work on something, or I would go crazy, so I started this blog. It was a necessity, but it became so much more than that.

It has been two years now, roughly 144 posts about films I genuinely care about. And sure, sometimes it felt like I was just shouting into the internet, vomiting words, but sometimes the internet shouted back, and with less vomit. I am beyond grateful to every reader who has come across this page, and to those who have been invested in my weekly film rants. Even to the bots who have left the strangest AI generated comments I have ever come across. Since this is an anniversary, I figured I should properly introduce myself, and the principles I have for this blog. Principles that are flexible enough that I can occasionally justify dedicating posts to different forms of media, like musical theatre and podcast.

The blog began with three articles a week, hard to believe, and that quickly shifted to once a week in late 2020. Somehow that one post ended up being the same length as three smaller posts, so I suppose not much has changed. Other than the occasional friend on certain posts, I have had no editor for this site, and so it’s definitely been a learning experience. Editing never ends, and I always want to go back and change things, but at a certain point you have to stop. The only way I can do that is by telling myself that these posts track my thinking, so both you the reader and myself can see how certain ideas have developed over the years. Ideas like transgression, nostalgia, male gaze, and beyond. Terms I have defined for one film, and then gone on to complicate in another. I am currently compiling a book version of the blog, just as a personal record, and it’s been quite the experience of going back and reviewing some of my early material. I like to think that I have grown as a writer, but it’s always a bit of an ebb and flow, and you just try to move forward. I am proud of most of these posts, without specifying further. That is just for me.

My name is Brenna, by the way, although I go by missmacabre on the site, as a play on my last name. I always thought it would be cool to have a penname and, seeing as I was going to become the kind of person with a film blog, I figured I should just commit. The blog’s main objective was to feature critical film analysis, which is different than reviewing a film, because I would highly recommend any of the media featured on this blog. I am not trying to dismiss reviewers or critics; I am just not interested in assessing media in that way, and to avoid doing so, I set up some rules for myself. First, I would only write about films I genuinely loved or at least felt challenged by. I believe that if you spend a solid amount of time on something you hate, you are just going to hate it more, and that isn’t particularly helpful. To be honest, the blog has since become my informal film school, because I can’t afford official film school, but I still want to be a film director. I just ended up writing about the things I found interesting and why, especially as I was home alone watching movies, and had lost that classroom back and forth dynamic.

The second rule came from the blog’s name, ‘You Remind Me of the Frame’, which is a reference to my favourite film, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986), starring the legendary David Bowie. It’s from the song “Dance Magic Dance”, which features a call and response section that starts with “You remind me of the babe”. I’ve never discussed Labyrinth at length on the blog due to my rather contradictory rule two. I don’t really want to write about every film I love, those that either hold a truly special place for me, or those I have already discussed at length in other places. I dedicated my master’s thesis to Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), so although I occasionally reference this work, I don’t really want to repeat myself, or over examine something I rewatch regularly. But at the same time, ‘You Remind Me of the Frame’ is also a reference to how my love for film began, so Labyrinth is arguably everywhere in this blog.

When I was young, I watched a lot of weird and wonderful films, but I was also the kind of kid who was terrified of literally everything. The dark, escalators, vampires, fish. So many fears. As a result, these movies were often turned off about midway through, leaving me with an incomplete story, a scary frame from when my parents hit pause and shut it down. These frames would stay with me, and I would invent elaborate narratives to situate them, because as a terror response, I often forgot what the film was originally about or even named. I began finding these films over time, often by accident, and would only remember when the frame appeared on screen. Moments like Dracula stabbing the cross in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), Sarah falling into an oubliette after being prodded by hand faces (called Helping Hands), or the shadow dance and Tim Curry’s Darkness stepping out of the mirror in Legend (1985). It meant that I suddenly had two different stories: the one in the film and the one I invented as a child.

Although I have officially tracked down each of these frames, this treasure hunt method defined the way I view film: little frames that come together to create complex and moving stories but that ultimately work independently (as a single frame) and collectively (as a film). My intention for this blog, then and now, is to focus on these frames, on moments in general, that left impressions, and what those impressions suggest about the audience and the film at large. The name ‘You Remind Me of the Frame’ was also intended to show that frames impact the way we see the world, which is why it’s easier to understand certain people, stories, and elements after visiting the cinema, because they remind us of what we have already seen in film, and vice versa. It’s why I have occasionally discussed the same film in multiple posts, because each discussion is aimed at a separate element about these films.

The incredible thing about close reading is that each person reads a film differently, and each interpretation, with enough supporting evidence, is accurate. I might come from an academic world, but every person, regardless of background, is capable of close reading, and no person is more correct than another. You may disagree with one of my readings here, and that is totally fine. You might assume I overthink things. Accurate. You might even have a completely different take away or interpretation of a film, and I would love to hear them. There are no authorities on these readings, just strong arguments, even if the director or creator would disagree, because their intention is just one well documented intention. Each viewer, with their own unique background and bias, will notice things. I can only wonder what frames will remind you of.

To those still reading, thank you. To those who have helped me along the way, thank you in abundance. I am still going to be writing, plenty of rants to be had, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect and appreciate on what this blog has meant and where it started. I am now working on a few different short films here in Vancouver BC, writing and directing, and trying to find work in the film industry. It’s a competitive world out there, but I am looking for work if anyone reading is interested in collaborating or chatting about Vancouver industry, or if anyone is looking to hire someone passionate about media and filmmaking. I’ll be sure to keep the page updated with info about these upcoming short films.

Once again, thank you.