Friday, November 24, 2006

My Greatest Movie Year

by jaydro
Brian's talk of seeing 128 movies so far this year reminded me of my peak moviegoing year, when I probably maybe got up to 100 or so in the theater, and I am including any repertory shows, because they should count, dammit (and I didn't see any of them for free!). I wasn't certain exactly which year that was, but I looked up two movies that I knew were prime candidates for that year, and indeed, they were both from 1994: China Moon and No Escape.

I remember those two because they were both pretty bad, actually, and that is what made me back off from then on. China Moon I ended up liking when I saw it because it was trying to be like Body Heat and other great film noir, and pretty much failing miserably, but it was at least trying, and that's something you come to appreciate when you see a lot of movies. And No Escape was just an average flick that nowadays I can't imagine bothering to go see in a theater, let alone sneaking out from work to catch a weekday matinee. I guess that's how bad my addiction was then.

Seeing that many movies gave me a new appreciation for film critics. Sometimes a reliable critic would enthuse over some movie I would then go see, only to find that it was pretty average, but maybe it was different--and that comes to mean a lot when you're seeing way too many movies that all begin to seem too much alike, etc. Being a film critic may seem like a cool job, until you start to realize how many bad movies you're going to be seeing. As a non-critic it might just be easier to sustain a high moviegoing rate now without getting too jaded, because of the rise of independent cinema. But I'm not sure.

I may have approached 100 or so in some other years in the '80's (1982/83 springs to mind because I managed to see Still of the Night, ugh), but that was in some of the glory years of repertory cinema before home video pretty much killed it. I discovered Cary Grant movies not on TV, but in local theaters in the 1980's.

Just in the past year my moviegoing has dropped off precipitously, and I'll probably be lucky to see 10 movies in a theater this year. But I'm actually watching far more movies than ever, thanks to TiVo and channels that show movies uncut and letterboxed etc., plus DVDs.

Anyway, I entitled this My Greatest Movie Year, but 1994 was also probably my Worst Movie Year in terms of the number of bad movies I saw. I had also gotten enough feeling of entitlement that I had no qualms about bursting into the projection booth at a local arthouse theater to berate the projectionist for using the wrong lens (at least three times during that period, I think) or to tell him he'd damn well better flick on the Dolby Stereo for Lawrence of Arabia because it's been restored, dammit, even though I know they didn't have Dolby Stereo in 1962....

Brian's mention of seeing so many movies just got me musing--I imagine there are probably others out there who have seen even more movies in a year (probably because they were working at a movie theater?).


Blogger Count Olaf said...

As of my dual-movie attendance last weekend I'm up to 6 (count 'em: six) movies seen in theaters for the year. Possibly 7, though I can't remember if I saw any in the winter/spring.

I thought I was walkin' on the wildside when I was a teenager and saw 10 in a summer. That sounds like a lunch break for Brian.....

11/25/2006 02:08:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I go to a lot of independent type of stuff, so the list gets pretty long without a lot of really bad stuff filling it up.

I never realized how many movies actually come out until I started writing the "Opening in Dallas" post every week back in April. Since then, I don't think there's been a week where less than 4 movies open, and usually there's at least 6-8. So even at 128 movies, I don't think I've seen anywhere close to half.

11/25/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I never hit 100 in a year, but did get into the 90s when I was in my thirties. I've dropped way back. I usually see about 40-50 now. I rent a lot more DVDs.

11/27/2006 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I love DVDs, but I realize that I love them more in theory than in practice. Give me a showing of a film on Turner Classic Movies or if it's more recent, say, on Showtime (for Dolby 5.1 and letterboxing--curses HBO! And I'm saying that as someone who actually has HBO and not Showtime), and I'm likely to be happier, though it's hard to admit it. I'm a completist, and it's hard for me to not listen to a commentary or watch yet another making-of when it's on a DVD, even if I didn't like the film that much, and especially if I've rented it (who knows if I'll ever touch this DVD again? must enjoy it to the fullest!). So DVDs become way more of a timesink for enjoying films, unfortunately. Just thinking about it now--it's insane that I'll watch a rented film on DVD three times just for the commentaries, rather than just rewatching a film I actually liked a lot. And the prospect of soon owning (or maybe renting) a DVD puts me off seeing a film I really like multiple times in its initial theatrical release (and the prospect also puts me off seeing anything less than must-see films in a theater).

11/27/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I don't listen to commentaries for films I don't particularly like. And I only buy a DVD if I'm honest with myself that I will watch the film several times--so I only buy maybe three or four a year.

I'm one of those old grouches that is fast becoming disenchanted with seeing films in a theater. Too many rude customers, poor picture or sound quality, etc. If simultaneous theatrical DVD and theater release ever comes to fruition, I will hardly ever go to a theater again.

11/27/2006 09:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

My greatest year for cinema-going would probably be '99. Some amazing stuff that you just didn't want to miss. DVDs weren't really part of the picture in those days. Watching them in cinemas made more sense back then, than waiting for the DVD does today.

But if you counted how much stuff I see at home? Hoo boy.

11/28/2006 09:57:00 AM  

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