So, three weeks into January. Still keeping to those New Year’s resolutions, or have they all fallen by the wayside now? Just like last year and the year before, I’m sure. Setting up unrealistic expectations at the start of the year and then failing to keep to them is a national tradition, and by the beginning of February, chances are that you’ll have even forgotten what it was that you were trying to achieve. All those grand plans to change the world, or at least your waistline, will have gone out of the window for another year and nothing will really change. So how about a resolution that isn’t just for January, is guaranteed to expand your horizons and might just change your life?
Then my recommendation for you is to watch 100 films in a cinema. This year. It might already be past the middle of January, but there’s still plenty of time to get in a century of films before people start singing Auld Lang Syne, and it might be easier than you think. But why 100? Why a year? (If you’re next question is “why films?” or “why in a cinema?” then you’re probably reading the wrong blog, given that my whole point is to try to encourage you to watch films in a cinema.) In terms of a goal, I’ve already suggested a short term target, that you can, if you put your mind to it, watch seven films in one day. But this is the cinematic equivalent of running the 100 metres, and not everyone can cover that distance in ten seconds. So consider this to be your marathon rather than your sprint, and if you put your mind to it, there’s no reason why you can’t be celebrating a cinematic ton by the end of the year.
The other thing it’s worth doing, and this applies to any resolution setting, is to make sure that you’ve set yourself a SMART goal. Now, SMART goals might be taken from the school of business thinking commonly known as Management Bollocks™ but bear with me; these things have prominence in businesses for a reason, mainly that they do actually work. A SMART goal, if you’ve not come across them before, is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. Seeing 100 films in a cinema in a calendar year is actually all of the above, so allow me to share with you the how, what, where, when and why you should give this challenge a go.
I’ve been at this blogging malarkey for nearly a year now, and in that time I’ve reviewed a heck of a lot of movies, been to various film events in London and other such places and underused fantastic words like malarkey. The blog, though, is partly just a result of my obsessive compulsive tendencies manifesting in word form, from the feeling that sharing my opinions in some way validates the ridiculously high number of films I see in any given period.
If I’m being honest with myself, though, there’s nothing that justifies some of the lengths that I’ve gone to in the past few years to see films, or some of the crazy stunts I’ve pulled, and there is little more insane than attempting to see as many films in one day as physically possible. (Other than doing it again, of course.) There is no rational reason why one person would want to sit for an entire day in the cinema, other than an absolute and total love of the cinema experience, or unless their name is an anagram of Collie Robbin and they’re being paid to do it. Love of the cinema in itself would justify seeing a handful, but to put in the commitment of a full fifteen hour day really requires an absence of logic and a stubbornness to see through a pointless exercise long past the point when others would have given up and retreated to the pub.
The more I embark down the road of my cinema addiction, the more I realise that I have, for too long, been just confining myself to the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Moving to an area with one (now two) good quality arthouse cinemas to complement the multiplexes has helped me no end, and also setting myself the goal of seeing large numbers of films has encouraged me to expand my horizons. For me, the distinction is not that I’m watching the kind of movies I’ve never watched before, but until now I may not have chosen to watch them in a cinema.
I’ve also been guilty until recently of another kind of shameful snobbery – while my broad tastes now take in everything from the broadly experimental to the mainstream, I had held off on catching classic movies at the cinema, for fear that in watching those I would lose the time to watch modern day fare where it should be watched. I had also assembled quite a series of the classics, which sit in my DVD collection and are just waiting for me to find the time. But my ethos is, of course, that any and every film is improved by watching in the cinema, so why would I ignore the golden oldies? (The answer is, of course, because I’m an idiot.)
It’s now less than a week before the second part of my summer cinematic extravaganza takes place. (In case you missed it, the first part was my Inception / Toy Story 3 double bill at the IMAX, and it was a thing of rare beauty and joy.) But all my prep is done; the hire car to get me to and from some Tube station at the end of the Central line is booked, my T-shirts, one of which is custom made, have all now arrived, I have my ticket for one of the Saturday night previews as well, and all there is left to do is to sit back and wait for the excitement to start.
In the expectant pause between now and then, I’ve found myself wondering exactly what I’m getting myself into. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but one thing that struck me reading this article about audience reactions at Screen Rant this morning made me realise that I’ve always missed a little of the American brashness at the cinema – us Brits can be a little too reserved sometimes. Sure, I’m no fan of loud popcorn munching, mobile phones or discussing what you had for breakfast in a stage whisper, and the cinema experience is usually better without distractions. But sometimes it’s the investment of those around you that really makes the experience and sets it apart from watching on even a good home cinema set-up.
The opening movie is The Expendables. I’ve been looking forward to this all summer long, and even more so after the relative disappointments of The Losers and The A Team, its two nearest cousins in this summer’s entertainment. But although it’s not getting the best reviews at present, what gives me hope is the audience I’ll be seeing it with, especially after this Guardian article’s recommendation on how to see it.
My iPhone obsession, part 2: Why I fear the iPhone 4 may adversely affect my movie-going, but I’m getting it anyway
I have to confess that, when the first iPhone was released, I didn’t think it was as great as other people felt. I was in love with my Nokia N80, and all but one of the mobile phones I’d ever owned was a Nokia. As it was battered and bruised, when the N96 was due to come out, I was convinced that was going to be my next phone. Frankly, the iPhone was over-rated as a device – I wanted something in my pocket that actually worked. And then I went into the Apple store one day and fell in love.
It was the iPhone 3G, that had just been released. I was in the store two hours, forgot what I had originally gone into town for, and within a week was the proud owner of my own iPhone. And if they ever come to make the story of my life (tip: don’t subscribe to that movie channel), then that moment will form a key part of the plot, with dramatic but slushy music composed by a James Horner wannabe and a dolly zoom onto my face at the moment I pick it up.
I’m 6′ 2″, 227 lbs, reddish hair and I have a small black shiny thing growing out of my right arm. Yes, I love my iPhone, more than any other piece of technology I’ve ever owned, to the extent where our relationship has become almost symbiotic (and to where I’ve used it so much that the battery lasts about 20 minutes without me recharging).
But the reason my iPhone has become so close to me, and why my hand will over the course of my lifetime evolve into some sort of dock shape for easier carrying, is that it’s not only ergonomically close to perfect, but it has helped me make my life easier in my work and also in everything I do in my spare time (and I don’t just spend my life in the cinema, surprisingly).
Sometimes in life, when things really matter, you can pinpoint in your memory the exact moment when they started. Your first day at a good school or university, the day you got your first pet, or the day you met your wife for the first time. In my case, I hadn’t been to the cinema for years, and I can still remember the first time I went back.
It was October 1994, and I was just starting my third year at Bath University. In the two years I’d lived there, I’d not really given cinema much of a thought. I was a complete sci-fi nerd, and rapidly becoming a Trekkie, but who wasn’t then at my age? Especially when the university student union was showing The Next Generation on a 200 inch projection TV at 5 p.m. every day.