Where was I…

Two years ago, I created this blog hoping to keep a diary of some sort of the films I was trying to watch that year. It was a list called “100 Movie List for the Summer.” That kind of tanked when I got super busy and super not-in-the-mood to watch, much less write about the movies. Then, I went to Korea and just had a blast studying (read: doing the absolute minimum to do OK in my study-abroad classes) and enjoyed being abroad in a different culture. That time there also kick-started my appetite to watch movies again, especially classics and films from different cultures. So as I entered my last semester as a student in college, I tasked myself with watching some 200 movies in 2015. Immediately, I found it was difficult to maintain some sort of regular pattern to do that because there are just times when you have no interest at all in watching a movie that requires your full engagement or life was just super busy with schoolwork, worrying about after college, internship, job, directing a play, etc. Sure, there are movies I can watch with my brain turned off: give me a Nicolas Cage film or an Adam Sandler movie, and I can watch the whole thing without actually feeling exhausted or intellectually spent.

That feeling of watching movies just to fill the void of time doesn’t sit well with someone who has ambitions of watching some of the most heralded movies ever. I mean, I can’t just turn off my brain to watch a movie like Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett or The Diary of a Country Priest by Robert Bresson. These are movies that require me to engage and to reserve my full brain space for them, otherwise I might miss the point or some crucial game-changing bit that may be important to getting the full experience. For example, the first time I saw Breathless by Godard, I had an utter disdain for his editing and his characters. I had to stop the movie 20 minutes in and completely wrote it off as a pointless exercise in profundity. Admittedly, I didn’t have the right feeling or desire to watch a movie at the time, least of all a movie made by Godard; I just wanted to watch it for the sake of watching a movie that showed up on my list. When I actually felt the urge to watch it two years later, my point of view changed dramatically; his edits felt so exciting, his rhythm magical, and his characters so funny, so frustrating, and yet so real. I gave the film an A+ and said at the time that the movie felt like a genuine thrill and a real challenge to movie-making that few directors, even now, can ever do.

So having said that, my 2015 was full of ups and downs as I navigated my post-college life. I aimed to watch 200 movies that year that I’ve never seen before and I hit that target by New Year’s Eve. Suffice to say, it was a struggle: there were months when I watched maybe 4 or 5 movies when I should have been watching at least 3 or 4 a week. Then, feeling invigorated, I would binge watch 3 or 4 in one day of my free time so I can catch up. My last two weeks of December were spent trying to catch up to the point that I saw 4 or 5, and sometimes 6 movies a day! In two weeks, I saw a total of 57 movies, averaging at about 5 movies a day. That’s insane! and that was exhausting. I never want to feel as if watching movies is a chore. I want them to feel genuinely exciting and interesting, like they normally are to me.

Nevertheless, I saw a lot of classics last year and I was happy about what I accomplished. This time around, I wanted to space my movies out as part of my plan to watch 230 movies that I’ve never seen before. Clearly, this requires me to be in the right mood quite often. But it turns out, when you move on from being unemployed after college to a steady job in the right field, your life picks up elsewhere. I suddenly feel invigorated to watch movies since I have the spare time (otherwise used to apply, mope around sadly, or complain about not having a job) to watch them and even the money to actually see some of them on the big screen!

With that said, I have a new list this year and out of the 230 movies I want to watch this year, I have so far watched 65 movies. I have a target to watch 4 movies by Sunday this week to keep pace with my schedule. I’ve seen a lot of movies so far that have given me new insights not only into life, but also the art of cinema itself and I can’t wait to share it here. As much as I can, at least. Writing about the movies gives me a good reason to sharpen my rhetoric, or understand my own feelings, or learn how to write better material. Things that I vowed to do before I turned 25 in January. Hopefully I can keep up.

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