three girls in white shirts and blue skirts leaning against a car.

500 movies in a year

  • Check it out!

    Vintage RPG

  • I have seen 500 movies this year.

    Technically, the number is actually higher — somewhere in the neighborhood of 537 but I’ve been using the official Letterboxd listings as a method of ensuring that what I am watching “counts.” It seems like a good external metric. So by that, I have reached 500.

    I learned something very quickly in my attempt to actually catalog what I watched this year. There are a few things no one actually wants to hear about: your dreams, your diet, and how many movies you’ve seen this year.

    There’s not some grand truth that you discover when you hit 500 movies in a year. It’s a bit like reading 100 books or eating 100 bowls of chili or whatever else people do as feats of free time. What you do find is that it is suddenly very exhausting to sit through a mediocre film — a solid 6 out of 10 becomes virtually unbearable. The kinds of movies you find in a Half Price Books warehouse sale, where it’s just 30 different Adam Sandler movies and Chocolat. The kinds of movies that your grandparents see in theaters and then say “Oh but you really need to see The Kings Speech. It’s just so good.” It’s fine. It’s not really a triumph of human spirit so much as blatant Oscar bait and a bit of a stammer, but it exists, which for some people is enough.

    I don’t know what there is to gain about talking about this. I thought when I reached 500 I would have something to say, but around 489 I realized that it was actually very hard to do anything meaningful with numbers of this magnitude. Whenever I wanted to see a movie for a specific number — 300 for 300, Suspiria for 500 I was usually thwarted by my own rate of consumption. At the end of the day really, all seeing this many movies represents is a gross act of consumption that can only exist in a digital age.

    womens beds lit in a deep red glow. This is a still from Suspiria.

    There’s this moment, somewhere around 344 where I started thinking about a David Ehrlich article from April, about how Netflix is somehow, by being an all you can eat buffet, a negative notion for people who actually like movies, that it somehow by offering so much makes it impossible to find the good stuff. I’m not sure. I know that as someone who lives in a semi-rural area, where the art house theater has 2 screens and the nearest major city is a 6 hour drive away, services like Netflix — or Hulu and Filmstruck, both of which i used to watch movies this year — made it possible for me to see movies like Girl Asleep or Deathgasm or any number of intelligent documentaries that never played in my neck of the woods. But perhaps, in Ehrlich’s world of fine cinematic dining, I am the over-stuffed patron who parks myself at the buffet for 5 hours and has to be pushed out by security.

    That doesn’t seem unlikely.

    There are numbers. Big scary ones that probably sound more like those numbers they read out about your total life span. 16 days spent tying shoes. 29 hours spent eating soup. 100 days spent in traffic.  49,195 total minutes spent watching movies this year. There are low months – -where I only saw 30 or so, and February, where despite its abbreviated length, I managed 68. I only attended one film festival — B-Fest in January. I tended to average about 2-3 movies a day.

    I could tell you that I’m well adjusted. I’m not sure if that’s the case, and anyway that happens to be an odd thing to argue. It’s like arguing that you’re not sinking when you’re in a pool of quicksand – you only look silly. Rather I’d say that this year I built an arcade fight stick with 100 buttons and helped run a game developers conference, a consumer facing convention and a 1 month art show. I worked two jobs. I took my art to conventions across the Midwest. I guess my point is more that I was busy, unlike the 6 months I spent unemployed a few years back, playing Spelunky on a couch bed and eating edamame til the smell made me sick. And yet, here we are at 500.

    I watched good movies and terrible movies and mother! I wrote about movies. It’s been a good year — even if it is only November 3rd and that honestly means I’m going to probably knock out another 100 or so before the year’s out. We’ll see.