Who is the Interested Bystander?

Logo (c) Stephen Christensen

My name is Cary Wong and I’m based out of Queens, New York. I am a reviewer and columnist for Film Score Monthly, a magazine about film scores and composers with the occasional foray into musical composers and movie and stage musicals, usually covered by me. While I do love film music, I am just an avid consumer of most types of media, be it film, theater, TV, books, opera...you name it, I've enjoyed it.  And during the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to finally put my thoughts online.

Since high school, I have been consumer of criticism, reading all the movie reviewers in my local newspapers, picking up the Friday “New York Times” at the bus stop to read any theater review I could find (this was during the reign of Frank Rich) and the weekly “On Stage” column for the gossip and of course the Hirschfeld. 

So it was finally time for me to put all my thoughts and reviews in one central locale. How did I get to be this guy? Journey back with me to 1977. 

I am a huge “Star Wars” fan (meaning the original movie, which I will call Episode 4 only under duress and Jedi mind tricks) and as a kid before VCRs in 1977, I had to search out and watch anything on TV just to get any glimpse of the movie. That led me to the Oscars in 1978, and the rest as they say, is a curse I will never shake. I think I wrote out my first Oscar predictions was during the 1982 broadcast for 1981 movies. That would be the year I was able to go to more adult movies like “On Golden Pond,” “Ragtime” and George Cukor’s last movie, “Rich and Famous,” which I predict will be a camp classic. (To bring it around full circle, I wrote my one and only soundtrack CD liner notes for “Rich and Famous” with a most lovely score by Georges Delerue). I have tortured my friends ever since with my Oscars (and occasionally) Tony Award predictions.

Like Claudia Shear, I have done everything imaginable in theater and film: from box office, press office, literary office, casting office, acting and so much more. I went to grad school to get the lovely, high-paying degree of an MFA for playwriting. I have worked with many great artists during my career as a playwright, and I hope to have many more years of collaborations.

(c) Cary Wong

Since I love awards, I know it is an honor just to be nominated, and I was finalist for a National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards for music criticism for my work at Film Score Monthly in 2021. You can read one of the reviews that landed me that nomination here. I wound up with the Nancy Kerrigan third place Bronze Award. I was also a finalist for the New Yorker Caption Contest. I am happy to say, I won that one. Coincidentally, the other two finalists for my cartoon were also playwrights. 

So, maybe I am less of bystander as my moniker would suggest, but I am certainly interested, and I am happy you’re interested in what I think. With this platform, I am going to highlight smaller movies and theater shows along with the things I would normally see. I am part of a theater award committee and a film critics group, so I do get to see a lot of stuff and I thank you for joining me on this ride. 

If you want to email me for any reason, my email address is interestedbystander2000@gmail.com 

Special thanks to Darrell Kirton for being my extra pair of eyes.