700 Films In Seven Years

May 20, 2010 by Simon Kinnear in Opinion with 0 Comments

Although this blogspot address has been in use just a few months, and the original site only became active in Summer 2007, I’ve actually been reviewing every film I’ve watched since the beginning of June 2003, with the eventual goal of putting everything online in a single movie blog. Which means I’ve been doing this shit a week shy of seven years.

Remarkably, tonight I’ve watched (and am about to review) my 700th film since starting. Sure, there have been old favourites and impressive newbies that I’ve watched more than once during that time, and a significant number of those films I’ve reviewed I’d seen prior to June 2003. But, on average, that means I’ve watched 100 different movies per year during that time.

So what? 700 is nothing. 700 is the amount a hardcore cinema buff could get through in a year or two, with enough spare time and a subscription with Lovefilm. But that’s not the point. For starters, I’ve done other stuff – edited a Doctor Who fanzine, spent/wasted countless hours in chat forums, Facebook and Twitter, and more recently written about film (semi-)professionally, and held down a full-time non-film-related job. And then there’s the life stuff: I look back at reviews and can name the first film I watched as a married man (Inside Man, funnily enough), my first¬†movie as a dad (even more weirdly, it was Chaplin’s The Kid) and all of those films I caught up with on disc because I too busy socialising when they were out at the cinema.

While my actual viewing quota has gone down, the fact is that by forcing myself to sit down afterwards and think about what I’ve just watched, I’ve gained a real insight into the moviegoing experience – not just what the studios and directors are doing, but what I’m getting (or want to get) out of it. A lot of it is common-sense stuff you probably know already…but it’s surprising how often, when thoughts go down onto ‘paper’ (or a computer!), those opinions can subtly shift. Quite often, I don’t realise what I think about a film until I’ve written it down.

And the crucial thing is: I review every film. Not just the ones I want to praise to the skies, nor the crapola I want to enjoy burying my hatchet in. The middle ground, too: the no man’s land of meh that constitutes a significant portion of the films we watch. It’s a real discipline, but that’s where the most interesting subjects crop up. The films on the cusp of being great that don’t quite make it, or the ones that should be taken outside and shot but which – thanks to a performance, or an attitude – manage to drag themselves away from the firing squad.

It’s a cliche that writers should always be writing, but it works. I doubt anybody would commission me to review stuff without all this practice behind me. Conversely, if I got lazy and stopped reviewing, I’d probably watch a hell of a lot more films, but they’d merge into so much wallpaper, and if anybody asked what I thought of them, I’d probably grunt or shrug noncomitally. Whereas, this way, I can tell you exactly what I thought of Crank, Crash or 698 other films…even if I’ll probably need to look up my reviews first!

Anyhow, that’s 700 films watched but only 699 reviewed… I left the choice of this milestone to my (handful of) followers on Twitter, and amongst the varied options – Showgirls, The Human Centipede, Charley Varrick and Genevieve – the only film to get mentioned more than once was 300. As in I should watch it two-and-a-third times, or add it to the 700 to make a round 1000. By chance, it was on telly the other night, and for some reason I’d never got around to watching it, so that’s the one I’ve watched. As soon as I’ve worked out what I think of it, I’ll let you know here.

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