I could never name and count all the books I’ve ever read. But how about movies?
With a wink to my readers under 35, here’s a brief history of my experiences with movies:
As a child, I watched a handful of movies in the theatres with my mother, brother and sister.
As a pre-teen in the 1970s, I watched all the NBC Mystery Movies (Colombo, McMillan and Wife, and McCloud) on TV with my grandmother, as well as all the disaster films of the era, like Airport and The Poseidon Adventure. The Australian film Walkabout was shown on TV a couple of years after its release, and at age 10, it scared the crap out of me!
Until I was in my 20s, I would have seen hundreds of made-for TV movies which were mostly forgettable.
At 13, I was allowed to take the bus into “town” and my movie adventures began. Due to the limited bus schedule, I saw mostly matinees. Notably, my grandparents’ hometown used to show Abbott and Costello films for kids on Saturday afternoons! Later I would see franchise movies like James Bond and Pink Panther. As a teen, it was impossible to see R-rated movies, so I glowered while pop phenomena like Saturday Night Fever came and went. Meanwhile, I did a lot of babysitting, and I could watch movies on TV when the kids were asleep. I got to see more adult fare like The Goodbye Girl and An Unmarried Woman.
I was still going to university and living at home when my parents got their first VCR; I would have been 20. Of course, that marked the turning point of my movie-watching career. I would rent movies every weekend, and watch the ones my brother and sister chose, too. I watched 2 or 3 movies a week for the next 15 years. On a weekend without commitments, I might have seen 4 movies. It seems funny, looking back, that movie marathons and binge-watching weren’t really a thing!
The next big step up was when public libraries started carrying movies in the mid-80s, and I could get them for free. That was when I started watching more classic films that hadn’t been available at the video store.
Unsurprisingly, I slowed down my movie watching when Link was born, and a few years later, got caught up in all the latest children’s flicks. Eventually I started dozing through them, and was happy to watch more adult fare after Link’s bedtime, but I almost never went to the cinema.
Over the years, I went through lots of phases: being influenced by men to see war movies and mobster movies; seeing slews of IMAX movies; world cinema; comedians; concerts; and newer franchises like Harry Potter and Marvel.
I tried to list all the movies I’ve ever seen (except those indistinct made-for-TV ones). I had kept lists of the movies I’d seen since 2004. That’s not weird, right? People do it with books. After I entered those on my list, I checked online lists to fill in the gaps: the best movies of all time, movies by decade, movies by director, by actor, by series, by genre, by subject.
I made rules for myself. I had to be certain I’d seen it, and that I hadn’t just been “around” while someone else watched it, or I slept through it, or I just had a dim memory of what it might be about. So they meet my own criteria for “confirmed” viewings!
I came up with about 1300 movies. It’s nowhere near complete. But it makes me happy!
This week I looked for a Goodreads-type app for movies.
On imdb, you can rate movies and keep a to-watch list. All the movies you have rated show in your account, so it serves as a “watched” list. You can publicly share your ratings or not. You can also publish your own reviews and lists. Imdb has the most complete information for each movie, such as detailed plot descriptions and release notes.
I got caught up in the Letterboxd app and website. When you register, you can browse an infinite list of “popular” movies and simply check all the ones you’ve seen. You can post ratings, reviews and lists, or even import your watched movies from imdb. It has briefer info about each movie, so if one catches your eye, you will have to find details elsewhere. Yet it is by far the quickest app for checking off everything you’ve watched.
The process is so addictive that I will probably check off all 1300.
If you have some time, I’d love to know:
Are you a movie fan? How often do you see movies at the theatre versus at home? How many movies do you watch in a week, a month or a year?
See also: My Top 20 Favourite Movies (2012)
Am I a movie fan?
I am, and I’m not.
I grew up on Cary Grant and John Wayne, watching late showings on television with my mother when the younger kids had gone to sleep, or – years later – via VHS and “colorization” technology. Perhaps it is from that early influence that my taste in movie watching veers toward classics from the golden age of Hollywood. The Maltese Falcon, Laura, The Philadelphia Story, The Thin Man, Some Like It Hot… I like Bogie & Bacall, Powell & Loy, Lemmon & Matthau, Hepburn & Grant. They are movies I will sit through, time and again, and always find something new to enhance my viewing pleasure.
Modern movies… Meh.
I prefer animation when it comes to anything made after 2000: The Incredibles, Ice Age, SING!, etc.
Unless it has Bill Murray in it. I think he’s brilliant. The Man Who Knew Too Little is probably my favorite film of all time, and Lost In Translation is one of the most human movies I’ve ever seen.
I have seen a bunch of Bill Murray movies, but didn’t even know about The Man Who Knew Too Little. I adore Lost in Translation – I never get tired of it. I’ve seen a limited number of older and classic films (say, pre-1960) but a few I like are Some Like It Hot, 12 Angry Men, Singin in the Rain and The Wizard of Oz!
I don’t really watch films- it probably is because I never really got into the habit when I was a child. We never went to the cinema with my parents. (The first film I saw at the cinema was Moulin Rouge- apparently it is from 2001 so I would have been 14/15). We did have a few films on video at home- I watched Robin Hood, Prince of Theives a few times!
I did watch more films as a teenager at friends houses and at one stage had quite a large DVD collection (mainly acquired whilst at uni to avoid doing any work!)
The only film I can remember seeing recently is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as a friend brought the DVD over. I mostly watch documentaries on BBC iplayer rather than films. I’m not sure why I am not interested in watching films- perhaps there are just not that many that appeal to me..
I like documentaries, too. I love that BBC music series Synth Britannia, Punk Britannia, etc.! Do you watch any TV?
I too am old enough to remember a time when getting to see a movie was a pretty big deal. We didn’t have much money when I was a kid, so when we did get to go to the movies it was usually the drive in. I still remember diving behind the back seat every time the scary music would start during Jaws. We usually went in our pajamas and mostly what I remember was waking up at home and wondering how the movie had ended!
But I do love movies. We seldom go to the theater because CatMan’s bad back doesn’t get along well with theater seats – so Netflix and Amazon streaming are our movie delivery systems of choice.
CatMan has taught me to love old film noir movies, but I think my favorites are psychological thrillers with twisty plots and trick endings. I also love quirky comedies and my guilty pleasure is bad disaster movies – I just love how the evil money grubbers always end up getting swallowed by the volcano or whatever the disaster du jour might be. I think my all time favorite movie is 12 Monkeys – it’s the perfect combination of psychological thriller, quirky comedy and disaster flick!
Ah, drive-ins! None left here but I still see an outdoor screening of a movie in the summer once in a while. I have a favourite bad disaster movie: Snakes on a Plane makes me laugh myself silly! It is so cheesy!
I (weird or not) keep the cinema tickets each year on my notice board. One year, I saw 40! I was impressed – these were ‘at the cinema’ style ones. I do prefer the cinema as I tend to focus on the film. This year, I’ve tried to see more, and have succeeded! I’ve been to two films recently with my parents, one with my brother, one with some children, and a drive in movie alone, and I’m sure there may be another one!
I like tracking things, but can’t imagine 1300 – or putting in that much effort and patience! But perhaps that’s cause my to do list is still full with: catch up on blog reading; prepare blog posts; clean etc. Idle holiday time may change that very soon!
40, wow! I like to see movies at the theatre because in addition to the big screen, I like to see how involved the rest of the audience gets. But I’ve only seen movies at home lately.
Seldomly go to the movies, over-priced! But I do like movies, we have Netflix, Amazon Prime and Acorn. Favorite movies include Godfather I and II, Tombstone, Big Fish, and like one of the ladies above Bill Murray movies.
I don’t see many in the theatre, but I always like it when I do, even at $12 plus tax (more for 3D!) We don’t currently have any subscriptions and I’ve still been getting DVDs from the library. I expect DVDs will be discontinued in the not so distant future. I have seen the Godfather movies and Big Fish!
I started very young – we used to go to the drive-in theatres on a Saturday night – a cartoon, then the first film would be for family viewing with the second film for the adults. We would go dressed in our PJ’s with the back seat full of pillows and blankets and of course we would fall asleep after the first film.
As I got a little older I would go with friends on a Saturday afternoon to the Airbase (friends fathers were in the forces) – they ran kiddie films for us – a cartoon, a serial, then the main film.
I remember having to stand for God Save the Queen – and people smoking in the theatres. One good thing was an intermission when the film was extra long so you could go to the bathroom and not miss anything.
I remember going with my dad and younger brother to see “Mary Poppins” when it first came out – we had to wait in line through one whole viewing before we could get in.
We went to see the Lippizaner Stallions on tour shortly after we’d seen the Disney film about them.
As I got older, friends and I went to the movies almost every weekend. There used to be two theatres at Yonge & St. Clair, each with two theatres and one Saturday I managed to time it that I went from one theatre, to the one next door, and then back to the original theatre – saw 3 in a row.
We got a VCR early and loved being able to see favourites over and over again. And yes, I’ve also watched many, many of the made for TV films. Now I have Netflix so have a whole world’s worth of films to choose from, including the documentaries that I love.
I don’t go to the theatre as often now as frankly, people annoy me! 🙂 They chomp on food (not just popcorn) through the whole film, chat to their friends, answer their cell phones and are generally disruptive. I normally only go to documentaries or CINEPlex Event showings or to the Varsity theatre for films that are geared towards an older, more serious audience. I blame VCR’s, HBO, On Demand – people behave as though they are in their living rooms and have little consideration for others, and given the cost of going to the movies these days, it takes a lot to get me out there I’m afraid.
I wil have to check out IMBD to see if there is any way that I could track the count – I would suspect it’s well over 1,000.
Such an interesting post! Thank you.
Hi Margie, Thanks! I remember intermissions, too. I don’t really mind people chomping on food, but once I went to a movie where people nearby were eating McDonalds food, and I didn’t appreciate the odours much! One quibble I have is that theatres don’t always have coffee, and when they do, it is often terrible 🙂
Agree – I’d love to be able to get a decent coffee now and again – I’m not a pop drinker and if I started on one of those giant bottles of water I’d spend most of the film in the bathroom! 🙂
That is such a rich cinematic history…you must have such a wealth of knowledge (and pop culture references!) I have never got strongly into film, I think perhaps from spending my teen years in the country, with no cinema access and only 2 TV channels. I could probably only number my viewing history in the hundreds. But I do have directors I love (like Tarantino in the 90s) that I tried to watch as many as possible. I’m watching stacks of foreign movies at the moment, which is fun!
Do you watch any in French? Wish I could! I am currently watching “back catalogue” DVDs from the library. If only I had pop culture knowledge of TV – I’ve watched very little since the 90s!
I watch in French but most of the foreign language tv here is subtitled, so there’s help for any bits I miss!
I learn and understand more when I watch French with French subtitles, because I read much better than I listen!
If a movie catches me on the couch, I’ll probably sit through it but I’m certainly not a movie fan. Last time I went to the movies (excluding taking my kids) was over 6 years ago. It’s not an exaggeration to say that in a busy year, I may watch 3 movies in total.
The last time I went to the pictures was last year in Newton Stewart (Scotland) a tiny backwater town with an old cinema kept going by the locals other than that I rarely go at home. I usually watch films on TV and have never hired a Video or DVD nor do we have the Sky film packages. When I was young I loved watching those old black and white movies on a Saturday afternoon. They have just been filming ‘Keepers’ starring Gerald Butler near our cottage – everyone in Stranraer is starstruck!
Never hired a video or DVD – wow – I can’t imagine! We don’t have Netflix or cable movie networks but I get DVDs from the library regularly, and see a few movies at the theatre every year. A lot of production companies used to film in Nova Scotia, but then the government did away with film tax credits, so they all went away 😦
My friend directed and produced ‘arty’ low budget movies shot around our area of Huddersfield and using non professional actors that got to the international film festivals and won a prize against the big budget movies. He even has a film director sounding name Marco Zaffino and is part Italian. Check out this interview with him https://cpshaw.wordpress.com/tag/marco-zaffino/ – or type his name into Google. I really enjoyed them – on the first public screening he would hire the local theatre and invite all his friends – we would get dressed up and go along – it was just like the Oscars but with only the local press attending and no red carpet! I am pretty sure that in all the films you will have seen you will probably not have seen his but you are missing a treat!
I will check them out, Vivien – the full films are available online!