Thursday, January 05, 2006

Apparently, not so much for the movies....

In the wake of my response to Elise's top-five list this week, I decided to double-check the fact that I only viewed one film released in 2005 (Star Wars) against a comprehensive list, and unless there's something I've seen which isn't provided here (there's not), 2005 is officially my all-time low in terms of movie-watching futility... which makes sense, given the fact that I've got a baby and had two jobs for much of the year. Just out of curiosity, I checked to see what movies I've managed to see which were released in 2004. The results are pretty pathetic as well.

In the theatres in 2004, I managed to check out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Fahrenheit 9/11. On DVD (most actually viewed in 2005), I saw half of What the Bleep Do We Know?, Super Size Me, Harry Potter 3, Napoleon Dynamite, Dodgeball, The Terminal, and Starsky and Hutch (on an airplane with no headphones, so only half of that one as well). For all practical purposes, I've also "seen" The Village after one of my co-workers spent half an hour detailing the plot and conclusion to me against my will after it was released.

While I'm sure I'm pushing the boundaries of egotistical/pointless blogging here (I'm not sure why on Earth would any of you care about this at all), here's my results from 03, 02, 01, and 00:

Theatres: The Matrix Reloaded, Whale Rider, The Letter, The School of Rock (2 times, oddly enough), and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
DVD: View From The Top, Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lost in Translation, Second Hand Lions, Elf, In America, and Big Fish.

Theatres: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Star Wars 2, Bowling for Columbine, Punch-Drunk Love, About Schmidt, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
DVD: Death to Smoochy, The Scorpion King (the last half, on television this year), Spiderman, Jackass: The Movie, Harry Potter 2, half of Chicago, The Pianist

Theatres: America's Sweethearts, Planet of the Apes, Amelie (twice), Harry Potter, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring
DVD: The Wedding Planner, Blow, half of Moulin Rouge, Zoolander, Gosford Park, and Black Hawk Down.

Theatres: Erin Brockovich, U-571, X-Men, Space Cowboys, The Perfect Storm, Nurse Betty, Almost Famous, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and O Brother Where Art Thou?
DVD: High Fidelity, 28 Days, Gladiator, Chicken Run, half of Coyote Ugly, Best in Show, Finding Forrester, and part of Miss Congeniality.

Totals: of the 3,074 films released in the United States between 2000 and 2005, I have seen a total of 60, with one foreign film (Amelie). That's less than two percent, averaging ten films each year. I ventured out to movie theatres 31 times to see 29 separate films, averaging 5 times each year.

Of these 61 movies, I would describe 26 of them--almost half--as "crap" which served only to waste my time and/or money, and of the remaining 35 there are only about 10 which I'd choose to watch again, and only a couple which I'd ever want to own.

This all surprises me, given the fact that most of my friends and many of my relatives are movie fanatics, and I used to fancy myself some kind of movie buff when I lived in a small town and had seen everything at the local (surprisingly well-stocked) video store. Really, there was little else to do, I would estimate at one point I had seen 90% of the films available in that store.

What strikes me as more interesting is the fact that as I perused the yearly lists of films released, I recognized the titles to many of them and knew a lot about films which I had never seen -- who starred in them, who directed them, how they were reviewed, why I chose not to see the ones I wanted to see, whether they won Oscars or Golden Globes, etc. In fact, there were a number of films I've engaged in conversation about, basing my knowledge entirely on trailers and reviews and marketing blurbs and entertainment snippets I'd caught and internalized. I could talk at length about the relative merits of The Matrix Revolutions though I've never seen a minute of the actual film except in trailers. I could talk at length about a number of much more obscure films in terms of their individual relevancy to my own life experiences. I would never choose to see Mona Lisa Smile, for example, but I could tell you much of what that film is about.

I guess all of this is building to some pretty mundane realizations about the power of marketing and advertising on one hand, and the power of the human brain to store miscellaneous crap on the other. If I have the ability to create and distribute relatively detailed (if ill-informed) critical opinions on films I've never seen (which is something most of us do, I'd wager), think about the degree to which we've internalized completely useless information and have been trained to construct criticism of these things. When I got an mp3 player and moved my CD collection onto its memory banks, I was floored with the number of songs I actually had stored in my own brain. 3000+ songs on the device, 9+ days worth of music, and I would say that I had memorized/internalized about half of it. I know songs by Hillary Duff and Ashlee Simpson (and worse) even though I've never bought an album by either or listened to their music by choice. I can walk through a grocery store and recognize 90% of the name-brand products I've never purchased or eaten. Ugh.

While my original impulse in this post was to make a new year's resolution to watch more movies, I think I'll try to stop letting corporate interests purchase real estate in my memory banks instead... or at least stop being passive about or unaware of it.