The Movies You’re Supposed To Watch Vs. The Ones You Do

September 5, 2011

Am in the middle of a movie-watching situation that I’m sure is familiar to many: forcing myself to watch the movies in the genere of: The Ones You’re Supposed To Watch. As opposed to the ones you shouldn’t, or more so, the ones you end up watching that really aren’t all that good.

Why would anyone watch movies that you don’t really like? Well, in more familiar terms: take The King’s Speech. Critics agree this is a great movie, won tons of awards including Best Picture, it’s got Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, teaches you stuff about World War II, has great performances, etc. But it’s been sitting in my queue for quite some time, jumped over by lower-brow fare like Hot Tub Time Machine and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.

Why? I chalk it up to the difference between art vs. entertainment. There’s no question “art” is good for you, but often, after a long work day your brain is fried and you just want something mindless. Something that doesn’t need a lot of thought. Something you can put on in the background, not really pay attention, and still get the general gist. That’s Entertainment.

My thinking each time I chose not to watch The King’s Speech goes like this:

And then I feel slightly unsatisfied and unclean, not unlike after eating a cheeseburger and fries and feeling sluggish and weak a few hours later. It’s not total regret, but a feeling like I could have chosen a bit more wisely.

It’s time to make a change. Over the past two weekends, I’ve been plowing through the AFI 100 once and for all. Network, The General, The French Connection, The Wild Bunch, A Night At The Opera, The Last Picture Show – all movies I’ve been meaning to get around to for years and just never did for so many reasons – they were too long, silent, in black and white, had subtitles, or just sounded dull. And in each case it’s proved a worthwhile viewing if not much more.

It’s rather like eating vegetables or working out. During the first few minutes it feels uncomfortable, and the call of Surrogates is strong, but it always gets better, and I kick myself for not seeing the smarter movie before.

The hard part is getting over that initial “I don’t really feel like watching this right now” voice.

But no, I haven’t gotten around to The King’s Speech – working on it.


  1. Rob O. says:

    I’m kinda in the same boat. I’ve been intending to watch “Lawrence of Arabia” forever, but always seem to find other things to spend time on instead. That my wife wants little or nothing to do with historical movies doesn’t help…

    “The King’s Speech” was very good, by the way!

    • I can relate to putting off Lawrence of Arabia – it’s really long (3 hours+?) and sounds a bit dry (with the historical bent and being in a desert). Length is certainly off-putting; I checked the running time of all my “should watch” movies and started with the shorter ones!

      With long movies, I recommend breaking them into two parts / evenings, and (purists may hate this) skip any musical overtures or intermissions – they aren’t essential. Many older movies had ‘em; possibly for bathroom breaks which is superfluous with today’s pause button.

      The better half’s taste could fill a whole post; I have that on my end, which limits sci-fi or excessively violent fare. Am really thankful that Jake Gyllenhaal was in Source Code – that got by the spousal filter!

      • cwclifford says:

        I have the remastered version of “Lawrence of Arabia” sitting in my collection – unwatched, of course! I have had so may prejudices about movies that they slip by me for years before I decide to see what all the fuss is about. 9 out of 10 times I am pleasantly surprised! But, if there is a Hot Tub Time Machine: 2 coming out then those other “art” movies may have to wait. ;)

        • Dude… another person putting off watching Lawrence of Arabia… It’s great! Images that fill the screen and justify your big TV, epic battles, Obi Wan Kenobi…

          Maybe some of the reluctance is rebellion – everyone says this movie is great; I’ll decide for myself when I get around to it, or, I want to make my own decisions on what movies to watch?