I can waste time. Scrolling through twitter. Checking Facebook. Framing an Instagram. Editing a Vine. In this app-savvy age, it is easy to get lost in every social-network fad. To make matters worse, I adore the arts in all its forms. A trip to the gallery, listening to a new album or reading an article or a book can erode away my film-watching time dramatically (though I think the former phone-based activities are, less-culturally, more dominant). With this in mind, I have taken it upon myself to focus my attention directly on film and cinema in 2015. Crucially, I am arranging my time so that each day I view a single film.
There are rules. Each film had to be watched in its entirety. I couldn’t watch half a film one day and another half the next and count it as two. Secondly, because of inevitable clashes, it’s possible to ‘bank’ a film. Forward-planning means watching three films in one day, to ensure I can see Book of Mormon one evening instead of watching a film.
So far, this resolution has pulled back my computer-gameplay (Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart has unfortunately had to take a back seat) and it’s forced me to be more definitive as to what I will watch. Before now, I’ve spent many an evening flitting between choosing one film and another and, eventually, settling on Paul O’Grady’s For the Love of Dogs instead. This is no more. I need to decide, quickly.
It’s easy to assume that in these busy times, very few people can watch a film a day. Of course, if I was to watch Lord of the Rings or Boyhood, I’d be losing nearly 3-hours. But you choose carefully when to savour those treats. Many documentaries are roughly 90-minute films (this month it included Countdown to Zero, Oscar-nominated Virunga, Jesus Camp and Searching for Sugarman) and can be squeezed in easily. Primer, Frances Ha and Rachel Getting Married, indie-films with critical acclaim, are also easily accessible on downloadable service, and are as short. Two episodes of most TV shows will often add up to 90-minutes, but rarely would that seem like ‘too much’ in an evening.
Due to the short time-period between the end of year and the Oscars, many awards-hot films get their release during January in the UK. American Sniper, Whiplash, The Theory of Everything, Birdman and many more award-nominated films are often enjoyable watches and worth the time and money to see on the cinema screen. This’ll bleed into February a little, but I worry that March and April will be dry months before the blockbuster season.
Acclaimed directors, they hold a long list of films to their name. Without the one-a-day challenge, it is easy to ignore the less-appreciated films for the sake of an easy night on Mount Wario. A falsehood of “once you’ve seen Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, you’ve seen them all”. It’s so easy to dismiss films when they didn’t generate as much buzz. I haven’t heard anyone shout about Hereafter and J.Edgar since their initial release. But, you drop this guard when it’s one-a-day. Now, Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima become required reading prior to watching American Sniper. Alternatively, The Informant! received mixed-reviews, but – to understand Soderbergh better – I watched the film anyway. Now I see the enormous correlations between Erin Brokovich and feel considerably better informed about his work.
But the challenges lay ahead…
So far, I’ve been lucky enough not to worry about television. February will see the release of the third season of House of Cards and Season 4 of Game of Thrones will arrive in the post, in preparation for Season 5. I’m assuming I won’t be able to binge-watch television anymore. Perhaps one episode per night? I could ensure two films are watched each weekend, giving me a night-off during the week to plough through a season? I’ll try to keep you updated in any case…
Follow my film-watching habit on Letterboxd: http://letterboxd.com/simoncolumb/