This occurred to me yesterday when I was thinking about the 2001 Sissy Spacek movie In the Bedroom: “I enjoyed that movie; too bad I don’t watch movies anymore. Why don’t I watch movies anymore?”
After pondering it, I decided I don’t have the patience. I’d rather spend my intellectual time reading books or listening to music. To clarify: I do watch movies, but they’re almost entirely blockbuster entertainment or family films, not thoughtful cinematic masterpieces to brood over.
Awhile back I was talking to an artist friend about my frustration with a certain music program on the radio. “I only like maybe every third song,” I said. “Well, if I went to a museum and liked every third piece of art hanging on the wall,” he replied, “I’d consider that a great museum.” Good point, I thought. And that’s why I don’t have the patience to watch movies. It’s too much of a commitment to watch 6 or more hours of something for a 2-hour payoff…and that’s if you really do like every third movie you see!
Of course, serious movie buffs would say that there’s something redeeming in the craft of an even a less-than-stellar movie, even mindless entertainment. I get that. But, I’m one who doesn’t finish a book if I’m not enjoying it. Movies, however, feel more demanding. It’s the nature of the medium—look at me! It’s harder to walk away, especially if I paid $9 for a ticket.
A novel strikes me as a conversation between me and the author (through the characters). In a movie, the conversation is with the writer, the director, the actor, the editor, the set, the venue, the stale popcorn….suddenly it’s a party and I’m an introvert. And, what’s left for my imagination? I’m not making a value judgement; I do enjoy movies (especially, apparently, ones that I still think about 17 years after it came out!). I just don’t have the patience to wait for the payoff every time.
Some people watch movies the way I read books. We all make choices and I’ve decided, sometimes ruefully, that I can’t be a movie connoisseur. I don’t follow sports either. Give me a rich, character-driven novel or the new Decemberists’ vinyl, and a cup of coffee and I’m happy.