As well as watching films, I do manage to squeeze in a few TV programmes as well. Mrs Evangelist and I predominantly watch comedies or cookery programmes together, and if watching on my own it tends to be genre programming that attracts me, such as The Walking Dead or Game Of Thrones. But I have one particular addiction that I think drives Mrs E crazy, which thanks to the BBC iPlayer I tend to watch most evenings when doing the watching up or the housework, and that addiction is Pointless.
I appreciate that you may not be living in the UK if you’re reading this, or even if you do you may have better things to do at 5:15 p.m. on a weekday. (As if.) So if you’re not familiar with Pointless, let me briefly explain: questions on various subjects are asked of 100 members of the general public, each given 100 seconds to give as many answers as they can on the nominated topic. Those on the quiz then attempt to give answers given by as few of the public as possible, scoring a point for each person that gave the answer. The goal is to give “pointless” answers that no-one gave, but an incorrect answer scores 100 points. As teams are composed of two people, who both answer in each of the first two rounds, two incorrect answers scores 200 points. So as not to make those doing so feel too bad, they become members of an imaginary 200 Club for having done so; at least, I assume it’s imaginary.
I would love to be an actual contestant, but haven’t yet found someone willing to go on with me. For now, I have to content myself with testing my own knowledge at home. I am, of course, best at the film rounds – this week I got half a dozen pointless answers on actors in Mission: Impossible films and cleaned up on movies with Christmas in the title – and I’m also pretty good at sport and geography. My weaknesses tend to be politics and literature, for while I have a working knowledge of both they don’t extend to the same level as my reasonably encyclopaedic knowledge of film. And part of that is the lack of time, for while I see an increasing number of films each year, I struggle to remember the last time I had time to read a book cover to cover.
This all started in 2008, about six months after I’d moved to Cambridgeshire with Mrs E, and saw a large number of films in two successive weekends. It culminated in me trying to see how many films it was possible to see in the cinema in a year, on which I’d set myself a target of 100, and where I eventually ended the year on 107. (For more details on why I went about this, I posted earlier this year on why you should also try to repeat the feat.) I then managed 127 in 2010 and then achieved 164 last year, feeling on both occasions that I’d never come close to that number again, and had genuinely pushed my own boundaries.
I’m on 172 so far this year.
I started slowly, for sure, and was behind the clock for most of the year on last year, but had actually begun to catch up by August, then took in 42 films at the Cambridge Film Festival this year. Add in six films at FrightFest in London in August, and another horror all-nighter last weekend, and suddenly I’ve broken my personal record with time to spare in the year. Here’s how the years stack up against each other, month on month:
Here, then, is my problem, the ultimate first world dilemma: should I be concerned about getting to 200 this year?
At the time of writing, it’s November 10th. This leaves me 51 days this year, with 28 films still to see. That’s more than a film every other day, and I also try to work to a principle of quality. Back in 2008, when I first went for the century, I was doing it because my wife and I shared a car, and I was watching films while she was at work. This occasionally led me to watch a film to kill time while I was waiting for her, which led to me seeing such delights as Battle: Los Angeles, Gnomeo & Juliet and Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D. Thankfully now we have two cars, but this does mean I only see films I have an interest in seeing, so I have to find 28 good films between now and the end of the year.
As if all this wasn’t hard enough, I also have the challenge of December itself. One of my other responsibilities is as choir master of my local church, and as you can probably imagine December is kind of a busy time for choral singing. Last year in December I was involved in twelve carol services, and I’m already committed to six this year; consequently, I’ve never seen more than nine films in any December. In fact, if you look at the last five years, there’s only three months when I’ve exceeded fourteen films in a single month without the help of a film festival, and to hit 200 this year I will need to do that in one month with only 20 days left (in fact, I’m already up to nine this month) and one month when I’m traditionally doing other things.
So here’s the list of what’s left to come this year:
On general release already
The Sapphires, Argo, Sister, My Brother The Devil, Alps
Friday 16th November
Amour, Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
Wednesday 21st November
Silver Linings Playbook, Gambit
Friday 23rd November
End Of Watch, Lawrence Of Arabia, Starbuck, The House I Live In, Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger, The Muppet Christmas Carol
Friday 30th November
Rise Of The Guardians, Trouble With The Curve, Great Expectations, The Hunt, Lawrence Anyways, Sightseers
Wednesday 5th December
Friday 7th December
The Man With The Iron Fists, Gremlins, Celeste And Jesse Forever
Friday 14th December
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, Babette’s Feast
Friday 21st December
Life Of Pi, Pitch Perfect, Boxing Day
Wednesday 26th December
Safety Not Guaranteed, Midnight’s Children, Jack Reacher
Friday 28th December
The Odd Life Of Timothy Green, Grabbers, Parental Guidance
That’s a set of 37 films, of which I can afford for nine to be not much good, or not showing in my area, but of which I must see 28 if I’m to join my very own 200 Club. But it all begs the question: is it even worth it?
For I know a number of people who’ve seen well in advance of 200, with the average critic seeing 300 – 400 and some people managing to regularly top 500. What it doesn’t get away from is that every time I’ve described this issue to someone, in the hope they’ll tell me it doesn’t matter and help bring me to my senses, is that instead they tell me that I absolutely should try to get to 200, for no apparent reason other than it’s a nice round number and it will be something nice to tell the grandchildren, should I ever find time to have any.
Or maybe I should work on those weak categories in Pointless, take up some reading or a greater interest in politics, do something more productive with my time, putting away such childish pursuits. Tell me, dear reader, what would you do? Would you do whatever it took to join the 200 Club, or are there more important things in the world? A towering achievement, or a Pointless one?