On January 1, Cinematical posted a discussion topic about film-related New Year's resolutions. The discussion generated some good ideas: watching more movies from a well-known filmmaker, from a list of notable films, from other countries. Some people planned to make movies, some wanted to see more movies in theaters. It was all very inspirational.
As a result, I've created a list of New Year's resolutions related to my movie-watching habits, especially in theaters. These are all great resolutions -- not that I'm modest or anything -- and I'd like to see as many people as possible adopt them for 2010. In particular, I'd like to see many of them adopted by people who see movies in the same theaters I do, if you understand what I mean. I am not including resolutions that only apply to myself, like "I resolve never to write about ambiguous movie endings again" -- although one resolution is primarily for film critics. Let me know if you think the rest are good general models, and if there are any other resolutions I should consider.
I hereby make the following resolutions to keep in 2010:
1. I resolve to walk out of a movie if the sound/audio quality is poor, make sure someone employed by the theater knows about it, and get it corrected or ask for my money back.
I'm kind of lazy, and I can think of several times when my husband and I put up with that small out-of-focus part of the screen, or audio that wasn't coming through all the speakers, because we didn't want to have to get up and miss part of a movie and try to find someone to help. And when we did tell staff about the problems ... well, some theaters are more receptive than others, and we encountered the Squeaky-Voiced Teen from The Simpsons a lot. But no more. If there are problems, I'm getting up out of my seat and I'll just have to see the movie in its entirety later. It's for the greater good. I've also resolved to avoid theaters that often have these problems, but sometimes it's unavoidable if it's the only theater showing a certain film and/or I have to review something there.
2. I resolve not to text, tweet or use my phone for anything at all during movies I watch in theaters.
I don't do this now, actually. In fact, I hate seeing little glowing screens during movies or at concerts. Sometimes I have been known to sneak a peek at my phone under cover of my purse so I can see what time it is, but I've bought a cheap watch to wear during movies so I'm not tempted to check the phone anymore. I am pleading with the rest of you to do the same, especially because ...
3. I resolve to ask people quietly to stop if they are being disruptive during movies.
I'm not just lazy, I hate confrontation. I have been known to glare at people who are talking or using their phone during movies, but I'm too chicken to do anything else. After a horrible experience during a screening of A Serious Man in which a couple at the end of the row snarked on the last half of the movie loudly enough for the whole row to hear ... no more. I'm just going to have to gather my courage and politely ask people to cut it out, no matter who they are. (A friend of mine once shushed Ann Richards's grandchildren during a movie; I will take heart from that story.)
4. I resolve to watch movies not just in theaters but at home.
I realize I'm moving against the tide here -- many people resolve to see more movies in theaters. I see plenty of movies in theaters, but for some reason when I'm at home I procrastinate terribly about watching movies. I don't know why, since there are so many ways to watch movies at home now. At my house, we have a Blu-Ray player, we have the Roku box so we can see Netflix Watch Instantly movies, and we have a computer hooked up to the TV so we can watch films via SlashControl, SnagFilms and various other legal free and on-demand online outlets. And I hate to say it, but our TV setup provides better quality than certain theaters with dim projection bulbs, badly calibrated lenses and faulty speakers (see resolution #1).
5. I resolve not to bad-mouth movies I haven't seen.
I don't see every single movie that plays in theaters or goes directly to cable/DVD/online. If I did, I would be a lot paler and my eyes would twirl like pinwheels. I can only see so many movies in life and there are always some that I choose not to see. That doesn't mean I have to snark all over them, though. I'll reserve that for the bad movies I did see.
6. I resolve to reuse and if I can't reuse, recycle.
What does this have to do with movies, you ask? I am thinking about 3-D glasses. More and more 3-D movies are hitting theaters, and I've become sloppy about keeping my glasses and bringing them to the next screening so I don't have to waste a new pair. In Austin, theaters that show 3-D movies use disposable glasses, but there are recycle bins next to the theater door and the plastic glasses are recycled. That's fine, but I think I'd prefer to reuse the glasses until I can't -- they do scratch easily, so I can't get more than 3-4 uses out of a pair. Still, every little bit helps.
7. I resolve not to gloat publicly about the perks of film criticism.
My momma taught me that it is rude to talk about parties with people who weren't invited. This rule can be extended to press screenings, advance copies of DVDs, and fancy movie-marketing promo items. Of course if you are reviewing a movie or DVD on the day of release, everyone knows you got to see it ahead of time. And sometimes you do have to mention in an article that you had the opportunity to see something at a private screening or during a special elite event. But I've had enough reading Twitter and Facebook posts and even articles or blog entries with "I got such-and-such in the mail today a month ahead of time" or "I'm going to see Movie X tonight and nyah-nyah-nyah." Besides, understating your perks and prestige makes you look classy, didn't your momma tell you that?