Archive for March 6, 2017

As a film student at Emerson in 1997 (which I realize was now 20 years ago), I was taking Film Writing & Design with a horrible professor who told me that all people in Hollywood watch movies constantly, like literally that’s all they do. I think he actually said, “hundreds a year.” So I thought I would make a list of all the movies I watched that year and see if I matched up. I worked in a video store and got free rentals, so I thought it would be easy to make a decent number. This list only included movies that were new to me, so even though, for example, I saw Star Wars┬áin a theater that year, that didn’t count because, even though it was the Special Edition, I had seen it before (many, many times). I made it to about 100 movies, I think, which kind of surprised me being that it was so low, and probably wouldn’t have gotten into any Hall of Fame in Hollywood.

Back in 1997, though, you didn’t have too many opportunities to see new movies. You either saw them in a theater or rented them in a video store. I know there were movies channels on cable, but my parents didn’t subscribe to them because my mother was convinced that they just showed the same movies over and over. She wasn’t entirely wrong, but it wasn’t until I became a functional adult that I made up for lost time by subscribing to every movie channel I could. I know this may be snobbish, but I don’t really count watching them on a regular channel, like TBS or something. Something about the commercials just ruins the experience for me.

But in 2017, there are many ways to watch movies, so I decided to try again. Obviously, the method would be a little different this time around. Sadly, video stores are no more, although there are many uses for those old VHS tapes, as you can see:

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Anyway, I would try to watch as many new (to me) movies as possible, and catalog them. And not in a spiral notebook like in 1997. This time, I could use a spreadsheet on Google Drive, with the date I watched it and also how I watched it. I thought that by the end of the year, it could be a cool way to examine how we watch movies nowadays (or it could just be a whole lot of nothing).

So, as of this writing (March 5th), I have watched 13 movies. Again, not breaking any records, but I was already a few weeks into January when I decided to do this, so I probably would have watched a couple more if I was actually trying. February was a big month, with 8 movies watched, with half of them being watched on Amazon Prime video. March promises to be even bigger, as I’ve already watched 3 movies (Don Jon, The Spectacular Now, and Logan), and it’s only the 5th. I also somehow managed to watch three Brie Larson movies in a row. I honestly didn’t even know she had made that many movies. She is a great actress, though, and I’m definitely looking forward to her as Captain Marvel.

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The one observation I can make now, and it’s a pretty obvious one, is that watching movies on a computer has changed the game completely. It’s a really interesting way to consume them, in fact, because as a younger, snobbier man, I didn’t really like watching a movie, stopping it at some point, going to do something else, and then coming back to it (even though you could certainly do that with a VCR tape, and I did, but it always felt like cheating somehow). I always thought that movies were meant to be enjoyed in a single sitting. Now, either because I’m just older and I just don’t care, or because of the technology, I feel like it’s cool to just pause it on your computer and go back when you want. In fact, most of the movies that I’ve watched on Amazon and Xfinity OnDemand have taken me days to watch, and I don’t think it diminished my enjoyment of them (if I indeed enjoyed them at all.) Maybe it was because video store rentals had to be returned after a couple days, but my Amazon Prime movies don’t need to be returned, as long as I pay that bill.

Speaking of paying, another interesting aspect of this experiment thus far is that out of 13 movies, I have only paid for four of them, being The LEGO Batman movie, Get Out, Logan and The Spectacular Now (yeah, I spent money to rent that one on Amazon, and that was a bit of a mistake.) Now, I do pay for Amazon Prime and I pay a cable bill that allows me to watch movies on the Xfinity website, but I don’t know if I’m contributing to a film’s gross by doing that. I will say, though, that it makes it easier to watch a lot of movies when you don’t have to directly pay for them (Or leave the house! Even getting free video rentals in 1997 didn’t make it this easy.)

My one fear? That the math will catch up to me. I know myself, and even though there are thousands of movies available to me, right at my fingertips no less, there are also thousands of them that I literally have no desire to see. So, after 13 movies in just over two months, I’m on pace to watch a couple hundred, and my concern is that there aren’t actually that many movies that I want to see. I mean, I may not be paying directly for them, but, time is money. So, do I want to spend my time on them?

We shall see. I’ll update my progress periodically, so stay tuned.