Monday, 15 March 2010

Too Much to See, Too Little Time or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Issue

As the Kubrick-inspired subject title suggests, there is an ongoing dilemma that us cinephiles must come to terms with - we will most likely never intake as many films as we would like to.


1, We could catch up with all the supposed classic and great pieces of cinema from days of yore. We all have gaps in our film history knowledge but assuming one leads a long and healthy existence, could this target be just about manageable?

2, Witness specific aspects of cinema we favour such as screening our most revered actors' filmography and/or complete a worthy auteur's works. Although it will not necessarily lead to great cinema, another specific target numerous film admirers chase is to view as many pictures nominated by the Academy Awards. Targeting specific branches of cinema may seem achievable but to actually implent such a feat is made all the more difficult due to lack of availability of many of these titles. For example, Truffaut's Day for Night (1973), Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and the appraised American documentary Hoop Dreams (1994) have yet to receive a European DVD release.

3, Stay on top of seeing all the latest worthwhile cinema. This may appear like the most acquirable goal but this is muddied by local distrubution and release date issues. Furthermore, work, social lives, relationships and families all challenge this aim and thus the latest great cinema slowly becomes (and adds to) that list of classics and points of interest you need to absorb.

4, Watch many of these titles again! After gazing at a half-decent quality film, this is a thought that often springs to mind. A repeat viewing often helps in establishing and reaffirming an opinion, especially if your original screening was many moons ago.

5, Be able to watch those beloved films you turn to and know oh so well, when a certain mood or level of comfortabilty is required.

6, Have the time for other arts and hobbies such as music and indeed other aspects of the visual medium like all those great television series'.

7, Lead a life! Those social lives, relationships and families which distract us are also fundamental in shaping who we are and indeed shaping our cinematic tastes.

Perhaps this impossibility of balancing so many interests and watching so much cinema can be viewed in a different light. Personally, when I have completed a great director's filmography or a favourite music artist's work, an emptiness enshrouds my mind, as I recognise there is no more of this magic to appreciate. Not being able to do and watch everything creates an eternal hopefulness and as with music, there will always be a plethora of past and future classics to anticipate. this a healthy or difficult dilemma for you or not even an issue you (or I should) think about?
And which apparent classic cinema you have always wanted to see do you appear to be constantly anticipating?


  1. You have touched on something that has caused me many hours of stress but that I have no real answer to. I want to watch La Dolce Vita again but there is always something new on demand to watch, I want to watch some DVDs i own but there is always something I've taped off of TCM to watch and so on forever and ever. My problem is that indeed, I want to watch everything so I can have an opinion on everything in case that film ever comes up in a conversation. It's a problem I've faced for a long time. There was a year, Grade 12 for me, where I was so swamped with school and other activities that I only saw 2 movies in like four monthes (21 Grams and Matchstick Men, if I recall correctly) and everyone around me was asking if I'd seen this or that and I had not. So, duriving the summer I vowed to rent every new release every week and never be put in that situation again. Unfortunately now that I have ondemand I want to watch everything on there as well as a way of constantly catching up to something that will never end. Ah, what a problem this is indeed.

  2. I missed Matchstick Men - worth a watch?!

    Can you deal with the fact that you won't be able to watch everything? you think it's a control issue?

  3. Matchstick Men is totally worth a watch. Very underrated indeed. I think it's more of an obsession issue. When I commit to something I commit to it hard. you have no idea how much I identify with John Larouche from Adaptation/The Orchid Thief.

  4. Ok, I shall watch one day!...Ridley Scott is a wildly inconsistent director but I am generally (when in the right kinda role) a big admirer of Cage - his style really does suit darker shaded characters. For me, he gave the best male lead performance in 2009 (although I have not seen A Single Man!).

    Haha nice comparison...Cage was also my number one for that film back in 2002 - what a wonderful piece of cinema.

    Interesting...I suppose if channeled correctly, obsession can be healthy. In other situations, not so healthy!

  5. Great post! It really is difficult to decide. I try to watch


    2)Oscar movies

    3)Movies of my favorite filmmakers and, especially, actors

    4)The week's most interesting releases

    It's really hard doing all four. There are still many classics that I haven't seen (even 90s or 2000s classics) and I know I will not see all of them even if I live till 300. Priorities!!

  6. It is tricky balancing it all out James...which classics are top of your list?

  7. That I haven't watched?

    I don't even remember. I should make a list.

    It Happened One Night
    Grand Illusion
    The Philadelphia Story
    How Green Was My Valley
    Now, Voyager
    To Have and Have Not

    Jeez, I can go on forever. I try, I swear :p
    They're just so many! Which ones have you seen from the above list?

  8. The Kurosawa Tuesdays on TCM this month are kind of ruining my life. So many to see, too little time.

    It Happened One Night, Grand Illusion and How Green Was My Valley are great. In fact, do a Renior double feature of get Rules of the Game along with Grand Illusion. It'll be a night to remember.

  9. Thanks for the comment about West Wing!
    I find that I have seen a lot of movies, but indeed I equally find I have fallen short in seeing so many classics. I find it to be inspiring rather than daunting because it means on any given evening there is always something to watch. I don't try to keep up with new releases anymore. They'll be out on video soon enough.
    I recently have taken up watching movies others have suggested and am pleasantly surprised to find I enjoy their suggestions. It's mostly foreign films, which without the input I wouldn't have ever seen. I would like to see more foreign films, more black and whites and more quirky films. The new stuff will be around for a while.
    On an unrelated note, I've always wanted to see a movie outside in a park or on the side of a building with a bunch of people. That is on my list of things to do before I die. I hope they still do that somewhere. That's been a childhood fantasy of mine.

  10. From those James, I have seen It Happened One Night (and as the sidebar suggests very recently, although this needs to be updated), Metropolis, Grand Illusion, and How Green Was My Valley (not a fan).

    I've only really seen the major Kurosawa works Mike - any smaller gems?

    And agreed, Rules of the Game is a great piece of cinema.

    That's the light I was attempting to find Wild Celtic, at least there will always be something fulfiling out there waiting for you!

    As long as your friends have good taste, this is generally a smart approach.

    I think the closest I came to that was watching a film on a big screen erected on a beach in Spain, although I can't remember which film!

  11. I love the Cinema Paradiso image...

    Anyways, this issue has bothered me in the past; but I'm well and truly over it.

    I enjoy GOOD cinema, I love GREAT cinema; but there are large chunks of film from the last hundred years that I have no interest in seeing.

    I like the stuff that I connect too, that resonates with me; and even if that means watching Cinema Paradiso 60 times and therefore missing out on some new Megan Fox movies, I'm really not bothered - I love the pleasure of a great experience; not the notion of ticking boxes of films seen. So I'm at peace with this issue! :)