About Bellview

bellview--it's not a city, it's a way of life

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Bellview--A Brief History...

Bellview Mission Statement: 

Bellviewmovies.com aspires to… 

  1. Provide you with entertaining content that can be read and enjoyed in under five minutes. 

  2. Help you select quality feature films by reviewing as many films as possible. 

  3. Occasionally make you laugh your ass off.


From the summer of 1997 through the spring of 1998, I received hundreds of e-mail forwards from friends—jokes, chain letters, personality tests and the like.  It seemed like everyone was reading them, so I figured, “I think my writing is as good as some of this horseshit, so why not write my own content?”  So I wrote movie reviews instead, since my friends and I were not getting a lot of those pushed back and forth through the Internet. 

I began writing the Summer Movie Reviews (SMR) in the summer of 1998.  The original mailing list was about 30 people.  SMR only covered movies released between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and during the first campaign, about 25 movies were reviewed.  The format was simple—long, profanity-laden tirades when the movie was bad…and, long, profanity-laden tirades when the movie was good! 

I added about 30 more folks to the list for summer 1999, and after finishing that season, the name of the column was changed to Bellview courtesy of my friend Dave Lee.  I also decided to review movies year-round starting in October of 1999.  (Every year, I take September off from the movies because typically, the worst films of any calendar year are released in September.  However, with January 2004 serving as a prime example, I may have to change the format a bit!) 

Also in October of that year, I started to branch outside of just movie reviews and began to write stand-alone essays.  Travelogues and “Consumer Reports”-style product reviews came first, because they were very easy for me to write.  By the following spring, I began writing essays on other topics, including dating, food and clubs.  Membership crossed the 100-person plateau.  I was still writing in lower case (a style I picked up from my friend Jessica Gilmour) since I liked the informal feel of that style. 

By the end of 2000, I had about 150 members.  I faced a big decision in terms of the audience and the writing style—keep writing like the immature angry black guy that I can be, or take it up a notch and write like the mature, professional but funny black guy that I am.  I chose the latter. 

At first that was tough, but 2001 taught me a lot and ended with a move to the left coast, nearly 300 members, over 70 movie reviews and 24 essays.  The writing style made me proud and I started to believe that this content could stand on its own, since so many people on the list were people that I didn’t know (referrals from other friends of mine).

2002 didn’t go very well on a personal level, but it was the best, most productive year of writing I could have imagined.  327 subscribers read 118 movie reviews, over 60 video reviews and more than 25 essays.  In particular, many of the essays made me believe that I could make a career out of this; essays on office stereotypes, dating, pedicures, yoga and the Potpourri series all were well-received by list members of all types.  2003 was even crazier, from a reviews perspective:  127 total films reviewed, plus another 29 essays on topics like video games, high school reunions, HIV tests and bacon-wrapped scallops filled up your inbox. 

So, Bellview rolls through 2004 with one more big change—a website.  Hey, the content is good and it should be out there, and now, you don’t have to save all of the old files in a mail folder that clogs up your box.  There are over 600 total reviews here; it wasn’t easy revising and tagging all of this material, but hopefully, you’ll think it is worth it.  Any and all feedback is welcome; I wanted a bare-bones approach to start with, but I’m open to change if peeps can program some cool-looking stuff for this thing.  Enjoy!

Contact the author at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09