I'm what Time magazine used to call - in the 1930s and '40s - a "cinemaddict." I also answer to "movie buff," "film fan" and "art house regular."
I get out of sorts if I don't see at least a film a week. And that doesn't count what I watch at home - Netflix, HBO, TCM, IFC, Sundance Channel.
Going out to the movies is still a joy for me. I crave the big screen - I want to see every inch of what the director meant me to see. People who watch movies on laptops or, God forbid, on iPhones are not serious lovers of film.
I'm a movie goer. And I get particularly excited when I can go see a movie about movies.
Which brings me to "Hugo," Martin Scorsese's sensational new film about ... well, it's about a lot of things. But, mostly, in my mind, it's a valentine to movies. The making of them, the watching of them.
The story is set in the late 1920s and centers on an orphan boy who tends to the clocks at the elegant Montparnasse train station in Paris.
From his secret compartment, he looks out at the people's comings and goings and eavesdrops on their lives. Sort of like we moviegoers do in the dark anonymity of a theater.
I wish I could tell you more about what happens - and how it includes a delightful education in silent film history - but I'm no spoiler.
Suffice it to say that director - and serious film fan - Scorsese takes us on a cinematic roller-coaster ride, with virtuoso tracking shots that thrill, 3-D effects that dazzle and a well-told tale that inspires.
2011 is a banner year for movies about movies. Besides "Hugo," which was named the year's best last week by the National Board of Review, there's "The Artist," a French silent film that's a paean to silent films. Set to open in Charlotte next month, it won the New York Film Critics' top honor for 2011.
And then there's "My Week with Marilyn," a first-rate drama about the making of "The Prince and the Showgirl," a 1957 movie starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier.
See them all.
And why not spend a day (or more) during this holiday season watching classic movies about movies?
Want suggestions? Here's my Top 10 (in chronological order): "Sullivan's Travels," "Sunset Boulevard," "Singin' in the Rain," "8 1/2," "Day for Night," "The Stunt Man," "Purple Rose of Cairo," "Cinema Paradiso," "The Player," and - now showing at a theater near you - "Hugo."