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)