Throughout my first 27 years, I never really considered myself a cinephile. I watched a decent amount of movies but I don’t think it was any different from the average person. Sometime around the age of 27, I started hanging out a lot with Joe, one of my great friends from college. This is my same friend who, upon meeting Kevin Meaney, told him “I really loved your work in Uncle Buck: The Series”. Joe loves movies. And thus began what’s been a fun eight year journey.
Hanging out with Joe sparked an interest in movies for me. In no time, I was going to the theater weekly. I was gobbling up his DVD collection. I signed up for The Hollywood Stock Exchange. Two years later, I started a new job working with Ryan, who is now another great friend. As it turns out, Ryan is a filmmaker who just missed USC Film School, and even then only because of circumstances outside of his control. Tying it all together was my friend Marty, whose own thirst for movie-watching mirrored (and frankly, surpassed) my own. This further opened up the cinematic pandora’s box for me. The AFI Top 100 became a target. Then foreign directors became a target. Within years, it had spun completely out of control and I was a junkie, desperately seeking out my next fix.
On the surface, this doesn’t really sound like a bad thing. Within a matter of years, I’d acclimated myself to genres, sub-genres, directors, countries, and film movements. It’s been a blast learning about this whole new world. But now, it seems, I have hit a snag. I have become a film glutton. At times, it’s just as much about the pursuit as it has the enjoyment.
Odd things started to happen. When you watch a high volume of films, whatever you’ve learned watching previous films gets pushed aside. Half the time, I have to go to Netflix to verify whether or not I’ve seen a film that I think I may have seen. Recall and retention is getting obliterated. Films that were in theaters just five years ago seem distant. A prime example- I know for a fact that I saw Pulse (2006), the re-make of the Japanese horror film. I saw it in 2006. I don’t remember a damned thing about it. It’s just another movie, part of a colossal pastiche of forgettable films, many which deserve a much better fate. I understand that this isn’t the best example. After all, Pulse was a real dud and I’m not really sure who would remember a lot about it. But it’s one of countless examples.
Other than ten or so Hitchcock movies, many of them blur together. I understand the major themes of Hitchcock but it’s more a form-fitted ball of Freudian mush for me than it is a defined list of a masterful director’s works. Not even two years ago, I watched a Thai horror called Dorm (2006). I gave it five stars on Netflix, but don’t ask me what it was about because I really can’t recall. Just over two years ago, I gave John Huston’s We Were Strangers (1949) 4 out of 5 stars on Netflix. It took place in revolutionary Cuba. I haven’t the foggiest idea why I gave it 4 stars.
All of this has me wondering if a slower pace is where it’s at. Perhaps marching through 10 films a week isn’t the best idea. Rather than trying to cram as many movies as I can into my existence, maybe I’m better off slowing down to savor what I’m watching. But therein lies the problem. I’m not sure a junkie can slow down. Someone who is truly an alcoholic can’t have “just one beer”. I doubt I could take a break or slow down. There are still far too many genres to check out. “You know”, I found myself thinking the other day, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie from Africa”. Or, “I really need to check out the work of Otto Preminger one of these days”. It is a bottomless pit.
Pray for Mojo.