Sunday, October 08, 2017

What Am I Going To Watch Tonight?

Those of us who share the over-acquisitive home video gene are almost certain to share another problem: the never-ending challenge of deciding what to watch. One of the great pleasures of owning a sizeable film collection is being able to act on the whim of wanting to see something, but such whims are actually rare - or at least seem so, in the shadow of an enormous archive of possible options.

Of course there are days when a new title comes into our hands on its day of release, something we've been anticipating for weeks and must watch right away... but if for some reason we don't, it's curious how quickly a new disc can begin to merge with the sheer absorbing mass of all the titles we've owned for years.

Other strange things happen once a disc is thus absorbed. When a collection soars into the thousands, David Lean suddenly stands on common ground with Edward D. Wood, Jr. - budget means nothing, epic vision means nothing, stars mean nothing, everything is reduced to the title on the spine and what resides of a film on the thumbnail of our memory. I've found that movies titles begin to lose all associative meaning when you look at more than two side-by-side; even a Blu-ray box set (and all we've spent to acquire it) begins to look strangely equal to the DVD-R we made of an old WOR broadcast and packaged inside one of our better Photoshop cover creations. Nowadays, we don't even have to be a collector to feel stonewalled by sheer variety; we experience the same thing when we're confronted with all those thumbnails on Netflix. I'm convinced that one of the major reasons for the popularity of series bingeing is that moving on to the next episode saves us from that fruitless torment of having to decide what to watch next.

Like many of you, I'm sure, I tend to give no thought whatsoever to the question of what I'm going to watch until it occurs to me that I feel like watching something. Then I turn to my memory of what I have, which is unfortunately always my first choice rather than to go to my computer and bring up the list I've actually catalogued, where I'm faced with dozens of pages of titles - black on white in Word - with no graphics to differentiate one from the other. The more you have, the worse it is. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has become so frustrated from hours of fruitless browsing that I've ended up wasting the time available for watching something and going to straight to bed - grumpy, beaten down, unentertained. 

So what can be done about this? Is there some way we might begin to recapture our rapture about the treasures we have squirrelled away? 

I think I've found the answer and it's surprisingly simple.

The secret is to pick our evening's entertainment earlier in the day and to spend that day looking forward to what we're going to see. Think about it: what this problem needs is the time to think about it. This has always been factored into the way we see movies in theaters. We have to pick a day and a time, we have to dress, to go out, and during those preliminary hours, that film is ours to dream about - to look forward, to imagine, to savor.

Your choice doesn't have to be extraordinarily careful or discerning; the plan will work whether it's a movie you already love or one you are simply curious to see. Find the disc, put it where you won't lose track of it, and think about it all day long. If it's something you've seen it before, reflect on the other times you've seen it and the pleasure it has given you. If it's something you haven't yet seen, Google it, look at production stills, read some reviews. Celebrate it. Value it. 

Turn your indecision into a hot date.

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.