I thought about naming it something dramatic, like Project250 (meant to be read as “two-fifty”, for extra awesomeness) or Film Challenge 2012 or even just FC2012 (the shortened name making it sound more like a summer blockbuster or sporting event), but in the end, it is what it is: a resolution.
The idea had its genesis in an online message board (internet message boards being the springboard for pretty much every good idea in the history of the world) when someone, on one of those end-of-year retrospective posts about the movies of 2011, started off with the disclaimer “I watched very few movies this year, about 160 instead of the usual 200ish”. I stopped reading right there. 160 movies in a year qualifies as “very few”? And 200 movies is some sort of agreed-upon movie-buff normative? And… holy shit… if so, just how far behind am I?
Of course, being the ruthless internet tough-guy that I am, this post triggered the usual impulse to go “NEERRDDD!”. I held back, though, partly because the poster was a genuinely nice guy and probably made that post without a tinge of snideness or condescension, and partly because I recognized the opportunity to put one of my New Year’s resolutions into practice: to be kinder to strangers on the internet (a resolution that was broken shortly afterwards, however, on a thread about “How I Met Your Mother”). But my dismay was genuine.
I feel like I should clarify, lest I come off as a poseur dilettante, that I’m a fanatic of the Seventh Art. A would-be filmmaker, I fancy myself a true movie buff; no film is too obscure, too mainstream, too indie or too foreign, I devour them with the enthusiastic dilligence of a homeless man digging into a piece of rotisserie chicken (please note: I am having a bad metaphor day). I review movies for other sites. I take residence in film festivals. And yet, 200 in a year seemed like such a ridiculous amount. How does one remain social and productive while routinely watching 200 movies, on average, over the course of one year? How can one maintain some semblance of a life?
And then that got me thinking about the amount of movies I actually watch. One thing my father instilled in me from childhood was the habit of going to the movie theater by myself when I need to clear my head. It’s something I still do to this day from time to time. The movie theater is still one of my favorite things to do with friends and on dates since it provides great conversational fodder. All in all, I’d say I go to the movies about once a week, on average. Then there’s the movies I watch at home, either by renting or through other, less conventional methods. I’d say, being realistic, that’s about two a week (again, on average; there are weeks I’ll be too consumed by work to watch anything at all, and then there are weeks where I’ll go on binges and burn through entire filmographies). Then I’m left with film festivals, of which I’m a huge fan, but only go to about three of them a year.
I was shocked at the results of my calculations. According to my– fairly conservative– estimates of how many movies I watch every week at home, in the movie theater and at film festivals, I’m actually at 206 movies a year. That’s 309 hours of fictions. That’s 1854 minutes of sitting on my ass and taking in the diegeses that someone else has put together. And all of a sudden, the number doesn’t seem that daunting at all. It actually seems pretty reasonable, for a young film enthusiast. In fact, it actually sort of feels… a bit slight.
Someone else pointed out, in that very discussion, that taking in inordinate amounts of cinema is helpful in shaping someone’s creative vision. And considering 2012 is a year in which I’m going to try to get my film made, I’m going to step it up a notch, keeping it realistic considering the restraints of my schedule. For 2012, I am watching 250 movies, or 375 hours, and writing about each one. Whatever it may be: a Dreamworks animated film about a spaniard cat, a dense-as-fuck Greek shock film about a transvestite murdering prostitute, massive-budget superhero flicks or tiny Canadian mumblecore melodramas. I’ll sit down here and write my impressions– scant as they may be– about every movie I watch this year. I’ll take in what worked. I’ll deconstruct what didn’t, and why.
The updates may not come immediately. I might do it in chunks at a time. And they may not be pretty– I reserve the right to be as brief, acerbic, messy and disjointed as the mood strikes. But it’ll all be here. There will be entries categorized under the “375 hours” tag that will go into detail on every movie I’d seen since the last one. Now, I’ve always been terrible at keeping New Year’s resolutions, but something tells me this one will be a good time.
And now, to pick the inaugural title.