Do you ever feel like you're only watching movies from the 21st century?
I sure do. I've seen just over 3,000 movies, and nearly half of them were released in the last ten years. That's 1,433 movies released between 2000 and 2010, and 1,603 movies released between 1900 and 1999. (Let the arguments begin now about whether the year 2000 is actually part of the 21st century.)
This shouldn't be such a huge surprise. The 2000's were my first decade in which I didn't go to school for any part of the decade. (I finished grad school in 1999.) Logically, then, I had a lot more free time on my hands, disposable time to spend however I wanted, without the looming threat of homework. We film buffs fill that time with movies, and it's only logical that we would be drawn to the brightest, shiniest objects on the new release wall of the video store.
But this doesn't mean we shouldn't go back and fill in the neglected decades whenever possible.
I've probably seen more older movies than most people I know, but I still feel disappointed in how I've done. Let's take a look at the movies I've seen by decade:
Hey, at least I'm consistent in my apparent aversion to old movies. I drop off at a pretty predictable rate as the decades go back, with each older decade having fewer movies than the one that came after it.
The problem is, even if you're a film buff, who appreciates difficult and demanding films, you still often see films as a way of escaping, a way of engaging in a pastime that doesn't feel like work. And, like it or not, older films, by their very lack of explosions and CGI monsters, can feel a bit more like work than their newer counterparts. If you're looking to zone out on a Friday night, a 21st century comedy with boobs and dick jokes seems a little softer on your noodle than the wittier but dated banter of a screwball comedy.
The thing is, my wife and I do make a concerted effort to see old movies. We'll go through little periods where we'll try to fill in the gaps in our viewing of the best picture winners of the 1940s, for example. But despite what we think of as our hearty resolve, these periods don't last very long. And pretty soon, the endeavor is forgotten.
So I was thinking recently: The best way to get back to this is to build it in as a recurring feature on my blog. If I force myself to seek out older movies according to a firm schedule that I can't delay, because I've set up the expectation publicly on my blog (not that you'd hold me to it), it will prevent me from procrastinating on my goal of having a well-rounded understanding of cinema, throughout its long and glorious history.
Here's what I'm going to do: I am hereby announcing (yet another) new feature on my blog called Decades. I will put the names of the decades from the 1920s to the 1970s in a hat, and each month, I will pick out a new one. It will then be my goal to watch three movies that month from that decade, and write a post recapping what I saw at the end of each month. July will be the first month. Once I get through all six decades, I'll start over again. (Or not, depending on whether I've gotten tired of doing it.)
I figure, four movies is too many (don't know if I can manage one per week), but two is too few (I want to make more than a cursory commitment to this project). One movie from the decade in question every ten days seems about right. Oh, and I decided that the 1980s and 1990s didn't really need my help, though maybe I'll include them down the road. As for the 1900s and 1910s ... well, I'll be getting enough silent movies in the 1920s, thank you very much.
So what will I be starting with? I thought you might ask that. Here, let me write the decades on paper and get started ...
(rummages through hat for pick)
Okay, it's the 1970s. That's a bit of an easy one. I was hoping to get thrown a curve ball out of the gate. But the fates have spoken.
I guess it can't hurt to ease into it, given my demonstrated preference for movies from the last 20-30 years. Maybe it would be too much of a shock to throw myself right into the 1920s.
See you back here on the other side of July, to let you know how I did.