Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tao of Movie Watching

Until the last year I hadn’t considered myself a “movie-person.”  I don’t know what the actual definition of said person would be, but it doesn’t seem to jive with the ultra-cool self-image I try to maintain.  However I now own about 200 movies.  If I’m not a movie-person I’m grossly materialistic and an inefficient appropriator of my finances.  I’ll go with movie-person.

However, I don’t think I’m a conventional movie-person.  For instance, I hate rewatching movies.  There are a great many movies that I see once, enjoy quite thoroughly, and never watch again.  For some this has to do with content; I liked A History of Violence, but will probably never watch it again due to the graphic content.  But more often I simply have no desire to watch it again.  I was entertained or educated, perhaps both, and no longer have any need for the film.  Of course this rule doesn’t always apply.  If a sufficient amount of time has passed and I’ve forgotten enough of the movie, I can rewatch it.  But this is usually after several years; anything under a couple months is strictly verboten.  I will also rewatch movies if it’s in a social situation.  In fact this is the reason I own so many movies.  I can enjoy watching it several times if there is social interaction involved.  A final caveat is that this rule applies to comedies and inspirational movies much less than to standard popcorn fair.  I’ve watched Monty Python and Gladiator many times, and will certainly watch them many more.

I also feel that movie-person brings to mind two contradictory characters.  One view is someone who sees absolutely everything because they want to be omniscient in their movie knowledge.  The other is the extreme movie buff who sticks to a certain category, say old war movies, and has them all memorized.  I fall exactly in between these two stereotypes.  I think I see a pretty large variety of movies.  I watch comedies, action, drama, documentaries etc.  But I don’t attempt to see everything in every category.  I know that I’m critical enough that this would be exceedingly painful for me.  So my movie watching is quite deliberate.  But I do certainly have genres I favor.  If it’s anime and you’ve heard of it, I’ve almost certainly seen it.  And certainly my knowledge of British comedy is significantly larger than that of romantic comedy.  So neither movie-person stereotype applies well.

Though I’m prone to snobby and elitist behavior, I’m not really critical like the stereotypic movie-person.  I enjoy such a wide variety of movies because I don’t think they have to be good or important for me to like them.  The movie doesn’t have to have deeper meaning or a moral.  A movie based primarily on explosions and gunfire is fine every so often.  I love brain-candy, but eye-candy is a separate pleasure.  If it’s fun enough, or interesting enough, or even weird enough, it doesn’t have to be good.  I won’t give it any awards, but I’ll pay a dollar to see it.

My frugality dictates my behavior more often than it should.  Consequently I very rarely see first-run movies.  But I frequent the dollar theater more often than the grocery store.  There are movies that aren’t worth a dollar, but they’re few and far between.  And when I see a movie that wasn’t good and really wasn’t that entertaining, I can still honestly give it the review “worth a dollar.”  And while I’m home for the summer I have both the library and Netflix to provide me with viewing material for free.  If almost any movie is worth a dollar, an even larger majority are worth seeing for free.  Now the only consideration is whether or not they’re worth 2 hours of my life.

I haven’t regretted watching any of the movies I’ve seen this summer.  The fact that critics didn’t like the movie means nothing to me.  I’m egotistical enough to think that I have better taste that those who watch movies professionally.  After a couple decades of movie watching, I can almost always tell beforehand if I’ll enjoy a movie or not, regardless of what others say.  The Mothman Prophecies did horribly in the theater and I knew I’d like it.  Why?  Because it looked like an X-Files episode.  And there have been darn few of those that I haven’t liked.  I may not know as much about cinema as a movie critic, but I know a ton more about myself.  So their reviews are much less important than what I learn about the movie myself.  

But of course the most important factor is if the actress is hot.


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