Every film nerd out there wants to have his or her theories about movies saved for everyone to see. The internet teems with amateur reviewers voicing opinions on cinema. I'm one of those people. I've left comments and reviews on various sites, thinking I could do the reviewer's job as well as anyone. After some pitches and ideas, I came up with the idea to watch 500 films in one year, filling up my Netflix queue on January 1 and then emptying it by December 31. Even for someone with obsessive behavior, I soon experienced the difficulty in executing my ideas. I had to learn the rhythms of Netflix's shipping and receiving days in order to get the films at home in time. If I missed even a day, I fell behind in the pace to finish on time.
Out in the real world, I missed bands I wanted to see and parties I wanted to attend in order to finish on time. I never really noticed how much time I could spend in front of the TV as I did this year. At first, it didn't seem like much: 10 movies a week for a year. But the reality was much more grinding. My social life took a serious hit as I had to go home early to watch some DVD so I could get it in the mail the next day and have it replaced by the weekend. Many Sundays were spent in four DVD marathons trying to finish a batch.
All totaled, I spent over a month in front of the tube, one movie at a time. Considering I also spent eight months sleeping and being at work, this was one fourth of my personal time. I'll probably still watch around 200 films next year, a much more reasonable pace of 4 DVDs per week, but I'm looking forward to the end of the project and moving on to new things next year.
What's next for me? Santa brought me the Grand Theft Auto box set for Christmas. My PS2 has been little more than a DVD player all year long. I played very few videogames all year. I need a little geek time for myself.
The other aspect of my life that changed greatly was that I all but quit reading books this year. In 2005, I went through two or three books per month. This year, I read only five or six books total. While I'm not going to do something so radical as a Read 100 type project, I do hope to read a book a week for the year.
Pick of the Week
There were a few contenders for the pick this week. Judd Apatow's followup to his series Freaks and Geeks was Undeclared, a really fun show about college freshmen living in the dorms. Rob Corddry of The Daily Show had a hilarious mockumentary about a professional paintball player with Blackballed: The Bobby Duke Story. But the winner this week was a film starring Kirk Douglas called There Was a Crooked Man.
What started off as a Western soon turned into a prison film, and a fine one at that. Douglas steals half a million dollars in cash, and hides it away in the wilderness before he's caught and sent to a desolate fort-style prison. Along with his cellmates, he plots an escape and the retrieval of the money. Everything goes well until Henry Fonda, as the new warden, comes into the picture.
The strength of the film is the talented cast, from top to bottom. Along with the aforementioned actors, the film also stars Hume Cronyn, Burgess Meredith, and Warren Oates. Alan "The Skipper" Hale even has a small role.
I went to see The Good Shepherd on Christmas Eve at the Metreon. The Metreon doesn't have a lot going for it other than its seating. The seats are big enough and comfortable, a must for watching 3 hour movies. With the stadium style layout, virtually every seat in the theater is a good one. However, I'm more of an arthouse kind of guy. Most film nerds I know are. But many of the older theaters have seats that are broken, worn out or don't have particularly good views if the wrong person sits directly in front of you. Last year, I saw The Best of Youth, a six hour film that was utterly beautiful, but I was wedged into a seat with not enough leg room for my 74 inch long frame. Fortunately, that film was worth all physical inconveniences.
After watching all these movies at home, I'm siding with the home viewing for most films. With rare exception, I enjoy watching DVDs by myself, being able to pause when necessary, and not having to worry if someone else is talking, or wearing too much Brut, or listening to someone else smack away on snacks. There are some experiences that should be in the theater, but for the most part I'd rather watch films when I want, with my own food, comfort, and viewing leisure.