This Movie Geek's Cardinal Sins

Last night, I saw La La Land for the second time in a theater, and in so doing I broke one of my personal rules re: movies, one I'd never ever broken before. That's right. I'd never seen the same movie twice in theaters. When there was nothing new on any given week and my friends decided to take in a repeat, I would stay home. I never went along when some decided to do so for the poor soul who had missed it the first time 'round. When I was a kid, at that age when you would indeed see the same movie like a hundred times without complaining, they just didn't stay more than a week at the local theater. I still don't know how a friend of mine wound up seeing Back to the Future more than 15 times, although I know it involved traveling to other provinces. In my twenties and thirties, there were long periods where I almost never went to the movies, preferring to wait for DVDs. For the past few years, I've been going almost weekly, as a rule, and yet, no repeats. So why now? Well, the film's quality is of course a factor, but I promised a friend I would go see it with her since her own entourage had a thing against musicals (as many sadly do), so it just happened. And when I say it ended an unbroken streak, it's because once I realized I'd never done it, I sort of started wearing it as a badge of honor. Well, no more.

So that got me thinking about what OTHER unwritten rules I've been following when it comes to movies. Here's a selection:
-As much as possible, never see a film I know will be bad, unless it's so bad it's good, though the latter situation is reserved for the home.
-Watch every extra on a DVD before moving on to another DVD.
-Always watch films in the original language if possible. Subtitles over dubs, though I'll make exceptions for high-end anime.
-Avoid spoilers like the plague, with the natural exception of trailers shown in theaters. Films with spoilery, unavoidable trailers are best watched years after their release when I've forgotten everything about them.
-No genre shall be poo-pooed.
-No snacks shall be consumed in the theater; who needs noise in their heads while trying to watch a film?
-Sitting between two friends is preferable to sitting on the end of row of friends. Preferred spot in a theater is in the middle, fourth or fifth row or whatever puts you at the vertical center of the screen.
-Always stay until the very end of the credits sequence. Not because of potential post-credits sequences, though they do happen, but because there's plenty of interesting stuff near the end, like song credits, special thanks and secret messages. It's a good time to start talking about the film anyway, before people pile into different cars and can't discuss the experience as a unit.

If I think of any others, I'll edit them in. What about you? Do YOU have "rules" you follow when it comes to watching movies, in theaters or at home?


De said...

-No talking in the movie theater. This applies (in my case) to friends, dates, and my kids.

-Arrive at the theater 30 minutes before the posted showtime. I can usually get the seat of my choice by following this rule.

Michael May said...

Mine echo a lot of yours, but I've got less rules than I used to.

Always sub-titles over dubs, but I'll watch a dub if that's the only version available.

I used to have a rule of arriving 20 minutes before start time. That was a reaction to my parents' rule during my childhood of If We're in the Parking Lot at Start Time, We're On Time. These days, the theaters I go to all have reserved seating, so I can buy my ticket ahead of time and show up right at start time. I enjoy watching trailers, but hate the commercials and other promos that get shown in those 20-minute pre-shows.

I still have a favorite spot in the theater, but that's changed over time, too. It used to be sixth row in the middle until stadium seating became a thing and moved all the seats back. Now it's third row in the middle for a normal size theater. Unfortunately, some smaller theaters put an aisle right where my optimum spot is, so I dislike those.

I also used to have a rule about staying through the credits, but I've eased up on that. If I'm enjoying the closing music - or like you say, want to see the soundtrack credits or something else - I'll stay. But if I'm feeling ready to go, I'll check the Run Pee app to see if there's a post-credits thing I don't want to miss. If not, I'm outta there.

Mike Wilson said...

Siskoid, I'm wondering about your "Never see a movie [you] know will be bad." rule; how do you know which ones are bad? (Especially since you avoid spoilers.)

I know there's always plenty of talk about movies--online especially--but I've found that's not always accurate. If you believe one half of the online community, Force Awakens and Rogue One (for example) both sucked, but if you believe the other half, they were both great. So how do you (personally) know when a movie is so bad you just don't want to see it?

Siskoid said...

I have a sixth sense about these things. I will look at a Tomato-meter, of course, as the critics' consensus doesn't include spoilers, and I've seen so many movies by now, I can quickly decide whether something will be terrible based on who is working on the project. Spoilery or not, word of mouth is often unavoidable, and I do have friends who don't mind the spoilage and who might recommend a hidden gem they've heard about.

You've also got to know what you can take and what you can leave as far as word of mouth goes. Know who to trust and how to interpret what they say. Maybe my special ability is actually to do research without getting spoiled, I don't know.

I enjoyed both Star Wars movies, but both were flawed (Force Awakens especially); that's not the same as being terrible. A terrible film I can spot on sight would be, to name some extreme examples, Michael Bay's Transformers or TMNT flicks. You can easily get that from its pedigree. Rogue One was always at least going to be interesting because I like Gareth Edwards and the teaser was killer, that was never going to be terrible even if it could have ended up ordinary or disappointing. But not "terrible". And if it had, then word of mouth would have been much more unanimous in warning us away (think of the recent Fantastic Four movie). Even with that rule, I wind up seeing only about one bad film in theaters every year, but you might say accidentally breaking the rule isn't breaking the rule at all. I don't usually KNOW it will be terrible in those cases, but the bad surprises are rather rare.

There are some people who say I am prejudging etc. and that I can't know unless I actually see it. But I bat pretty close to 1.000 on this subject. If I say something will be bad, it usually will be. If I say it'll be just okay, it's just okay. And so on. So I trust myself, and others tend to trust me as well, and it works for us.

Mike W. said...

Yeah, that makes sense. I don't see a lot of movies (no theater where I am, plus most movies don't pique my interest), so what I do see is on DVD or television ... meaning I pretty much know what happens in the movie before I see it, and I can avoid watching things I know I'll hate.

For the record, I liked Force Awakens (so much that I watched it once, then again the next day); I haven't seen Rogue One yet, but I read the novelization and I think I'll like the movie when I see it 9though it's obviously much darker than the usual Star Wars movies).


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