Over five years ago, in January 2010, I unveiled the last major Decent Films design overhaul. Even at the time I was aware of issues still to be addressed — issues that, in some cases, have remained outstanding until now.
The latest iteration of Decent Films delivers on that unfulfilled promise and much more. This was a gargantuan undertaking — too big, and too sophisticated, for my poor skills. With every past iteration of Decent Films, I’ve done all the front-end design work myself. This time I needed help.
The heavy lifting, design-wise, was done by my friend Jason Morehead of Red Bicycle. Being the obsessive type that I am, I did a lot of additional work as well, with helpful guidance from Jason. I think I can call the outcome a collaboration of sorts, but the bones are Jason’s work, not mine. I learned a lot on this project and I owe Jason a big debt. (If you’re in the market for website design, check out Red Bicycle.)
As always, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my longtime back-end developer Simeon, who has put in untold hours over the years realizing my hopes for Decent Films. (If you’re in the market for content management and database support, you’re out of luck; Simeon’s not looking for work.) My debt to Simeon is the second greatest I owe to any person on earth for making Decent Films what it is.
My greatest debt, beyond all hope of reckoning, is to my lady Suzanne. In a real way she is the uncredited coauthor of everything I write and do, whether she has active input or not, because she is the coauthor of the story I live in, the story of our life together. Without her support, tolerance, advocacy, understanding, heroism, sacrifice, devotion, forgiveness and love, I could not do this work and I could not be the person I am.
This is the first completely new Decent Films in ten years. It’s also the first version ever that feels more or less complete to me. Not that there aren’t still bugs and tweaks to be addressed — and not that I wasn’t thrilled about the 2010 (and 2005) iterations when they were new.
But even in 2010 I looked at the site and saw major challenges ahead. (“Must do mobile templates,” I thought — and never got around to them.) Now, for the first time, I feel like … I’ve more or less arrived, design-wise. For now, anyway. It’s almost a little frightening!
There are still tweaks, of course, but if there are any major challenges ahead, I’m blissfully blind to them for the moment. (Let me enjoy myself! But if you see issues, of course, let me know.)
The “letter grade” — or “overall recommendability” rating — has always been, in a sense, the “main” Decent Films rating (and past designs have generally reflected this, some better than others). The star rating and the moral/spiritual rating are meant to clarify and illuminate the overall-recommendability rating. This hierarchy is clearer in the new layout, I think.
The “USCCB rating” was always a bit of a misnomer (ratings before 1968 or so were assigned by the National Legion of Decency, and the close association of the USCCB name with the ratings suggested to some that movies were being rated by actual bishops, or had disciplinary authority, which was never the case).
This became so even more a few years ago with the USCCB closed the Office for Film and Broadcasting and turned over movie reviewing duties to Catholic News Service. (I meant to write about this at the time but never got around to it; I’ll try to write about it sometime in the future.)
For various reasons relating to this storied history, among others, I’ve decided not to display USCCB/CNS ratings in my reviews from now on. (However, the Search page still includes a USCCB/CNS ratings search for reviews I tagged in the past.)
With every redesign of Decent Films, I always feel a renewed commitment to write more, and better — and the more I learn, and the more distance and perspective I get on my earlier work, the more I realize how inadequate it is, and the more impatient I become to do better work.
This time that urge is tempered by my ongoing studies for the permanent diaconate. I am still on academic semi-hiatus (don’t ask me how I did all this on semi-hiatus!). That being the case, I will continue to underperform as a critic for a little over a year.
But trust me: My enthusiasm about film writing has never been higher — and, God willing, the best is still to come.
Soli Deo Gloria — SDG
Has it really been ten years?
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.