I have never seen Citizen Kane. Or the Godfather Trilogy. Or any Charlie Kaufmann film. During Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind I was mainly concentrating on Kate Winslet’s hair dye choices.
I do not have good taste in films. If it has ‘auteur’ in the blurb then I’m going to skip it. ‘Harrowing’, ‘Seminal’, or ‘Heart-breaking’ are probably not what I’m in the mood for on a Tuesday evening. I can’t watch horror films. I’m oddly unmoved by animation of any kind. I’m not good with suspense. I don’t like unexpected expressions of violence (The Departed was a trial by fire. Did anyone NOT get suddenly shot in the head in that film?). I haven’t found the energy to start that box set you’re talking about by the water cooler. If I do accidently watch something highly acclaimed, I tend to be quietly respectful, and then never think about it again. I am slightly dissatisfied by all unhappy endings.
On the other hand, there’s plenty of fluffy stuff I should like and don’t. There’s plenty of rom-coms which aren’t worth the electricity they would take to watch. The majority of superhero films are pretty charmless, if briefly entertaining. I can’t find much to say about most Judd Apatow films, and all Adam Sandler films (not even The Wedding Singer) and pretty much anything that has a cast consisting of six men and a single woman who is the love interest.
None of this makes me a popular viewing buddy. I’m snobby about rubbish and unenthused by class. I’ll watch a whole mediocre film twice for one five minute scene in the middle – hell, I’ll even pay good money to see it again in the cinema – but I sulk about being made to watch Oscar winners.
The reasons I do this – the rules I go by – aren’t clear even to me. Why will some unremarkable movie keep me glued while any amount of lavishly applied effort and time and money leave me cold? How is it I manage to like anything I watch at all? I am stubborn and inconsistent in my devotions. But still, it is love. My DVD collection is creeping towards unmanageable. I stay up unwisely late on school nights because I can’t bring myself to stop watching until the end. In stressed moments at work I read the quotes section of Wikipedia like a soothing phone directory. In one particularly undemanding job post-university I’m reasonably certain I finished the IMDB. There are still few things better than sitting in the dark and watching a story unfold around you, surrounded by breathless strangers.
So this is what I’m actually watching. And why. Some of this stuff is well known, and some of it justifiably isn’t, and some of it I’m pretty sure should have been but somehow missed the chance. Maybe by the end of this, I’ll know why I watched it. And so, I guess, will you.