Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why I Don't Watch Movies, Except When I Do

This week I'm going to be taking a few days off of work to see a whole lot of documentary films at SilverDocs in Silver Spring. This will probably provide the majority of the movies I see all year. I may only see a handful of major motion pictures in theaters this and perhaps a couple on DVD all year, since that's been the case for a while. I've become a person who doesn't go to see many movies, even movies that I actually kinda want to see and as I look closer, I realize there are a number of reasons.

* Truth really is stranger than fiction - I went through a phase through most of college where I just didn't read any fiction. I felt that the world is a very strange place and I really preferred narrative non-fiction or non-fiction in general (David Sedaris, Michael Lewis, Malcolm Gladwell, etc etc etc). Eventually I came back around to fiction and have been reading plenty of authors I had never had a chance to read when I was younger. Right now I love documentaries but can't work up much enthusiasm for normal motion pictures. But perhaps something will shake me out of that preference.

* I don't like going to movies alone. As much as I try to be more of a social butterfly these days, most of my art consumption is a solitary act. I enjoy going to galleries solo, I listen to most music on headphones, and I don't mind going to concerts solo since I do it so often. But for whatever reason, I get uncomfortable going to movies solo. This shouldn't prevent me from attending movies with other people, and yet the fact that I don't want to see movies alone seems to make me less inclined to see them with other people as well.

* There's only a finite amount of time in a day/year/lifetime. I've realized that there are things that I enjoy spending a whole lot of time with - music, visual art, quality journalism, books (now including novels again), soccer, football. And there are things that I probably will have little inclination to investigate - poetry, dance, baseball (although I love it as a kid). I'm not saying my tastes won't change again, since clearly my desire to read novels has evolved over the past few years, just as my enjoyment of baseball has practically vanished. But for now, I'm not gonna spend a lot of time on things I don't enjoy. Life is just too short.


Alex said...

So I'm pretty jealous that you get to take time off to go to SilverDocs. Besides that, I have three thoughts-

1) I went through a similar aversion-to-fiction phase recently. There are so many things that I want to know more about that it seemed silly to waste my time reading but not learning anything. Then my roommate lent me 'Everything is Illuminated' and I remembered that sometimes it's nice to read something that is just written beautifully.

2) I never liked going to movies alone, until I was living in London and doing everything alone. Now one of my favorite things is going to a movie by myself in the middle of the afternoon. I'm much less self-conscious about my solitude in a darkened theatre than I am in a restaurant or art gallery.

3) I love movies, and I love seeing as many movies as possible. That said, the amount of time it requires to sit down and watch a movie seems exorbitant; I feel like I have a lot of other things I should be doing with that time. This means I generally end up re-watching the same movies because they don't require my complete attention and I can accomplish other things at the same time.

B.Graham said...

Totally understood with the taking time out of your life for a movie thing, and then I remember two things:

1) I want movie making to be my career, so I damn well better be a proponent of giving time to that art form as much as I am for any other, and

2) Netflix Watch Instantly option. It's great for doing things and watching movies at the same time. Or watching movies and feeling like I'm doing things at the same time.

The most important thing for a movie, too, is for the audience to NOT feel as though that time could have been better spent.

Anonymous said...


Nice to see someone taking time-off to enjoy a day(s)of movie viewing especially at AFI Theater in Silver Spring, M.D. This was my old haunt before I took the plunge and moved to L.A. I loved going to see movies there, especially when I was alone.

Speaking of which, it is almost torture for me to go to a movie with someone else unless it's my nephew or a real movie buff. And though I'm a girl, I especially hate going to action sci-fi movies with my female bffs because they talk during the most critical points of the film and you invarably have to spend the next 3 hours explaining everything to them. I also enjoy creating and viewing art better by my lonesome self especially abstract art.

Oh, on the topic of reading non-fiction v.s. fiction. I went from being an avid reader of everything fiction (teens - 20's) then switched to non-fiction really as a spill over from my job in health and my interest in history and biographies (20's- 30's). However, since I've started writing content for film and other visual mediums I have read practically nothing! In fact, I fear that I may be the reason the corner bookstores are going under (lol).

I also see a change in my movie viewing habits now. I see 2 movies a month (down from about 4)and I am meticulous in researching them well before I select them. If the trailer looks iffy or if I get a vibe that it's a stinker, I pass on it. I do this even for my DVD rentals or TV movie viewing.

Maybe our tastes in reading and movie choices are just changing as we age. It might be a good thing, right?

Jstone said...

I see probably 50+ movies a year, last summer I cleared like 18 first time viewings and I saw Speed Racer and Dark Knight twice.
If you want to make watching movies worth your time I suggest you find good people to watch movies with (Me, Sarah, Jason, Dennis all good options) because you cover the following:
1. you spend time with friends/good people.
2. you engage in interesting conversation before and after the movie that turns the art of cinema into a more stimulating and enjoyable experience.
3. movie soundtracks often introduce me to new music which sounds like a positive for the Nova.
4. movie's for me are time savers, the good ones concentrate other art forms into a single 90 minute-3 hour package. Story, music, art, etc. Aside from video games which calls upon the player to act instead of passively absorb I find cinema to be the most engaging art form because of its versatility.

So yeah...go watch movies.