My Montrose: James Cole Clay, Film Critic
Congrats on being inducted into the Houston Film Critics Society!
Thank you so much. It’s big deal—it means a lot when people take notice of you. It was really cool for me, and I really appreciate it.
Have you always been a film buff?
I’m a child of the ’80s, so VHS was a really big deal for me back then. I would go to the video store as a kid, and I would walk around a Blockbuster for like an hour and a half. I was just fixated on movies, and my parents really encouraged me. They didn’t think I was some lazy kid wasting his time, they were really positive about that. My dad would take me to pretty much any R-rated movie—the South Park movie, or American Pie, or silly things like that. But I turned out okay!
When did you first start writing about films?
I started writing for the school paper when I was in college at the University of North Texas, which has an amazing journalism school. That’s where I learned how to write, how to structure a review, how to get screening passes to see a film. From there, once you get in with the PR companies, it’s really easy to get the ball rolling with online publications.
You moved to Houston to take a marketing job, right?
I was just out of school and a family friend had a job opening that sounded very enticing. I had no clue about Houston—my only real memory of the city was getting lost on 610 when I was a teenager. The job didn’t end up panning out, so I tried radio, which also didn’t work out. So here I am walking dogs part-time and writing part-time, and it works. It’s really unorthodox, but it works, so I’m very fortunate.
Why did you decide to live in Montrose?
I heard that Montrose was the place to be. The city I used to live in, Denton, is a lot like Montrose. It’s really bike-friendly, very hip, very cool used bookstores. And here, the Half-Price Books on Westheimer is one of my favorite places. And I couldn’t be happier—as I’m talking to you right now I’m walking around, the sun is shining…it’s really cool, because I feel very connected to this urban area where there are all these local shops, local restaurants, yet I still have all of Houston’s big city resources. I was actually planning to move back to Dallas, but I can’t leave this place. I love it.
Finally, what are you Oscar predictions?
It started off looking like Spotlight was going to take Best Picture and run the table, but that came out in October, which was a while ago. But now it’s looking to me like The Revenant, because it had so many wins at the Golden Globes. And it’s a really fantastic movie. So The Revenant for Best Picture, Leo [DiCaprio] for Best Actor, Brie Larson for Best Actress, and maybe George Miller for Best Director, for Mad Max: Fury Road—which was my favorite movie of the year. That movie has a special place in my heart.