Urgent film watching

I’ve talked, I think, about my whole seeing vs. watching thing. You see a movie in the theater, you watch a movie on video. Watch means you have control. This morning I watched Alligator, which I remember seeing on television with my mom sometime in the early nineties. It probably aired on ABC, but who knows. We watched anything set in Chicago back then. And maybe I’ve already talked about seeing vs. watching in the context of those kids today who can see hundreds of different classic movies from the 1930s when I grew up in the era of waiting on the video store to get more of them. Waiting on the VHS distributors to put out more of them. I didn’t—my classic film viewing started with AMC in the late nineties—but I did grow up in that era. You saw movies on TV. You didn’t tape everything, you didn’t TiVo everything, you didn’t stream everything. It was a far different time. It started to change, for me, in the mid-nineties when I got into laserdiscs, but even their availability affected what I did and didn’t see. I remember I wasn’t ready to go back to the video store I’d quit working at some months previous, but this guy who worked at the desk above mine at the Chicago Options Exchange couldn’t shut up about Scream so I went out and bought Scream on laserdisc. Unrated too, because Disney Home Video didn’t put out the Miramax and Dimension laserdiscs, they licensed those out and you could have truly unrated Disney. We won’t even talk about the time I really wanted to see TRON widescreen. But since streaming, since iTunes, since whatever, it’s all changed again for me. The only things I watch “urgently” are screeners, whether screener blu-rays or screener VODs for indie stuff. Or if you get me a present, then I’ll watch whatever, but usually it’s like having a second present because the recommendation is a good one. No urgency though. Otherwise—and I don’t want to get into my lists of movies to watch—there’s a methodical system and there are six categories I want to fill a month for The Stop Button. One recommendation from a person, one recommendation from MovieLens, one movie off the previous month’s list of movies to watch, one movie off the first half of the year’s list of movies to watch, one movie I know my mom watched, one Eleanor Parker movie. Methodical. Not as methodical as The Stop Button used to be, but I have gotten a lot busier since it started. Six movies. I watch more than six movies a month, however. The others are hodgepodge (or screeners); I’m changing that approach up though. Anything more recently discovered or acquired, those films I’m going to make an effort to watch first. Not just to be topical with home video releases or whatnot, but just to try to get through the 4,500 movies on my watch list in a more interest-based order. Now, we’ll see if this decision manifests itself in a change of programming behavior for the site, as the decision to read this blog’s previous entries ended up being one ill-suited to reality.

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