The Revenant

the-revenant-posterAmerican black and white psychological horror from 1960.
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Robert Bloch, Joseph Stefano
Bechdel test: Fail

Exposition

Reactions

Contemplations

Judgement

Epilogue

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Psycho” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

35 movies down. 330 to go.

If you want to get “Psycho” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s on a streaming service you subscribe to already?

Tomorrow’s movie is “Once upon a time in America”. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

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Aimless and on vacation

The first month of watching a movie each day is over and it has already turned into an endurance game. I knew that summer would probably be the most difficult, but this did not go well.

Firstly, the late nights with sun til nearly midnight and all the outdoor summertime fun and energy makes inside activities slightly less attractive. Secondly, I just came back from my summer vacation, and this year I went on an adventure. One night we ended up staying on an island quite far from the mainland where the interwebs did not want to interweb. Another night we stayed in a place where the hosts didn’t want to give us the password to get some interwebs, but claimed that they had. Very strange. (A wonderful and amazing trip with many really strange experiences.)

This made it quite difficult to write a daily blog, so I failed. But at least my vacation is over now, and hopefully I won’t fail again, cause that was embarrassing.

I also felt that the way I have been watching the movies and write about them, has been a little aimless. So I have decided to keep an eye out for something in particular each month, and in July I will look at how the story is divided into scenes and how these come together to create a story and a plot line.

Looking back at the different movies I have watched in June, I will say that I cherish some of the many adventures that have rolled over the screen. But sadly I have seen a few not so good movies, and two really crap ones, and the memories of just how bad these two movies were, have not faded.

Still, I don’t think there is much of a point to conducting a full review after just one month, so I will leave that for the three month mark.

The best memories from the past month has been (in no particular order) Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, My neighbor Totoro, The wizard of Oz, To kill a mockingbird, Blade runner, La Haine, 12 angry men, V for vendetta and The sting. In other words, I liked quite a few of the movies very well, and most of the others were nice. So viewing wise, June was a good month.

Lets hope July is even better.

Expectations

bored

In Indonesia, Slow lorises are called Malu malu or “shy one” because they freeze and cover their face when spotted. Drawing by Encyclographia, CC BY-SA 4.0, Original drawing

First of all, I expect that watching the movies in and of it self could offer up some difficulties. Especially boredom. I have gotten used to fast paced entertainment and a constant influx of impressions from the world around me. I will be challenged if I can not pick up my phone or similar if I don’t have anything to do for just a minute. And movies that are more than 20 years old, if not younger, will have a much slower pace. Not to mention, that I also need to be entertained by what I see. This is a big challenge. Hopefully a year of training in being patient, will give me some much needed tranquility.

I also expect some difficulty in setting aside some time to watch a movie every day. Outside the sun is shining and family and friends are having fun but I need to watch a movie and write about it.

Another worry is that I might end up without access to the net one day. Doesn’t really happen, but it could.

The movies

I have some idea what to expect from some of the movies, cause I’ve seen them before. And many of the others, I’ve heard of, so not completely unfamiliar. But some are complete mysteries.

I haven’t liked all of the movies from the list that I’ve seen before. That is a worry. And some of them I have really disliked. Honestly, I thought they were a waste of my time. And now I have to watch them again, and write about them. Not a bright prospect.

wordcloud

An attempt to visualize my expectations. Not sure if I succeeded.

The experiment

I genuinely don’t know if my taste and opinion about movies will change, which is why I think the experiment will be fun. However I do have some expectations of results, but more a kind of secondary set of effects.

I do expect a steady diet of only good movies to change my anticipation of watching a movie. I will expect everything I watch to be pretty good, I suppose.

I also expect that I will become better at expression my opinions about movies.

Participation

I have no idea weather or not anyone else will participate in the project. I will be excited to see other peoples opinion on movies anyway.

It would be fun to see if anyone else changes or doesn’t change their taste, though.

Photo at top of the post shows Shinjuku, a special ward in Tokyo, Japan. It is a major commercial and administrative center, housing the busiest railway station in the world (Shinjuku Station) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the administration center for the government of Tokyo. Photo taken by Martin FalbisonerOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Original photo

Regulated into boredom

As was suggested by a reader, I have checked whether the 365 movies on my list for the experiment, pass the Bechdel-test.

The Bechdel test is a simple test for any work of fiction that looks for the active presence of women, and calls attention to gender inequality. There are three parts to the test.

A work of fiction:

  1. Must have at least two (named) female characters
  2. that speak to one another
  3. about something other then men.

The Bechdel website has a long list of already tested movies, and most of the movies on my list were already there.

And these are the test results for those movies.

Gender

Only 328 of the 365 movies on my list had the Bechdel test already performed and put on the Bechdel website, so the remainder I will try to test as year moves along. The test is not something usable for documentaries, so they will forever remain out of my statistics. For the rest, I will update my numbers near the end of the year.

The movies on my list are picked from the most critically acclaimed and the ones that audiences herald to be the best. And a significantly lower percentage of these 328 movies pass the Bechdel test, than the more general selection of all the movies tested on the Bechdel-site.  I am quite sure my sample is too small for any certain conclusions, and the movies on the Bechdel-site might not be a representative selection of all movies, but there is definitely a trend.

If a movie is a favorite of critics or audiences or both, it is less likely to pass the Bechdel test.

I also checked whether one of my movies is more or less likely to pass the test if it is in English, or if it is a foreign language movie. And while there is a difference in the percentages, this difference is not significant. The number of foreign language movies that were on my list and already had the test performed, was quite low, so this might mean nothing in general.

It is however not so surprising that movies from Hollywood don’t pass the Bechdel test, if you read about how writers learn to make a script.

It seems we still might not have moved past this:

As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking.

-Virginia Wolf in Orlando (1928)

Pre-code movies

There are several sources for errors in these numbers and one of them is to treat movies from different times in the same manner. Simply lumping all the movies into one group could give the wrong impression, which is why I divided the movies into decades as well. However, one thing that is not reflected in these numbers even then, is that Hollywood movies from before 1934 and after were made under very different circumstances.

First there were the silent movies, where it seems that talent was the driving factor in casting decisions, even if looks always will be a factor in a visual media. Here women could be stars and their stories were told. Of course this did happen in a society where women many places didn’t even have the right to vote yet.

Tillie's_Punctured_Romance_(1914_film)

Photo of Marie Dressler (on the right) with Mabel Normand and Charles Chaplin in “Tillie’s Punctured Romance”. Photo by Mack SennettPD-US, Original photo

And Hollywood was off to a decent start. The first full length Hollywood comedy (a silent movie) was called “Tillie’s punctured romance” (1914) and it came out six years before women had the right to vote in the US. It starred Marie Dressler, a 44 year old wonderfully funny and rotund woman. Tillie is undoubtedly the star of this story and Charles Chaplin and the rest of the cast are supporting characters. This does seem like a different approach than what we see in current Hollywood. It should be noted that Charles Chaplin was not familiar to most audiences yet, and the lovable Tramp character debuted the same year as this movie.

If you should happen to be curious about this movie – here it is. It might be worth a look just for Tillie’s hats. It is a slapstick comedy, complete with bumbling and falling down cops and a car chase (well, there is a chase and there is a car taking part in it).

Fun fact: Marie Dressler claimed she cast Charles Chaplin in this movie and was glad to give him his first big break.

While this movie doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, it does seem to tell the story of a woman, and considering the time it was made, I think it is kind of OK, gender wise.

Next came the talkies. It was a gradual shift, but generally they started being shown in 1927, and until 1934, times were good for women in movies.

These years are called the pre-code era, and while not all movies from this time are pre-code movies, all those who would have broken later censorship rules, are given this moniker. These rules that became enforced from 1934 and onwards, regulated a lot of the behavior and appearance of women on screen.

Joan_Blondell_banned_1932_publicity_photo

1932 promotional photo of Joan Blondell for the movie “Three on a match” (1932). This photo was later banned.

Pre-code movies dealt with divorce, some of the reality of women during the depression, infidelity, homosexuality, sexually liberated women and they showed both nudity and different states of partial undress. All this went away when the censorship rules entered the stage in 1934, and would not return for a long time.

While female characters from the pre-code movies may not have been liberated or independent by our standards, they were women that got some parts of their stories told and the on-screen roles were often more liberated than what most women could hope for in their real lives.

One example of realism that probably should be seen in the context of the time when it was made, is the musical number below. It looks at some unusual material for a musical, which is often a more escapism type of movie. The song is from the 1933 movie “Gold diggers of 1933” and the is called “Remember my forgotten man”, performed by Joan Blondell and Etta Moten. (This movie also has other quite brilliant musical numbers.  Maybe especially “We’re in the money”.)

This longing for the men who they probably held dear, but whom they also needed to provide for their families, was quite real during the depression. Women could not easily provide for their families. If they were lucky enough to get a job, it did not pay very well, and a lot less than a man holding the same position. In addition it was difficult to find childcare that did not eat up all the woman’s wages. Independence was next to impossible for the less than wealthy.

The term “forgotten man” was coined in a speech by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1932:

These unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power, for plans like those of 1917 that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

On a side note to the gender issues, homosexuals were portrayed in pre-code movies, but generally not in a very positive manner. Although movies after the censorship took effect, did not portray them at all. Not sure which is better.

The movies of the pre-code era often showed women that took initiative to sexual encounters, divorce and  infidelity, and were active in other ways as well.

In “Design for living” (1933)  a woman can not decide between two men who love her, so all three end up living together, presumably platonically.

Betty_Boop_1933_v_1939

Betty Boop in 1933 and 1939.

Then came the censors and female characters in movies became passive, covered up and in all honesty, quite boring. They were often infantilized and reduced to props for male characters.

I tried to see if there were any difference in the portion of movies that passed the Bechdel test in the movies on my list before and after 1934. The movies from the pre-code part of the 30’s had 51% pass, while the remainder had 46% pass. However this is the list where it has already been established (above) that the movies are less likely to pass the test, due to the critical acclaim or popularity of the movies.

Everyone’s stories in movies

After 1934 is seems we entered a long period where movies tell the stories of white men, but the last six or seven years have luckily seen quite positive trends (see statistics above) towards a different approach in Hollywood, although there is far from equality yet.

Jessica Chastain put this very well:

We need more diversity. We’re not telling the stories of many, we’re telling the stories of few. There’s a problem with the storytelling, with the protagonists…it’s in front of the camera, it’s behind the camera…This is not how we want to be working and we need to tell the stories of all.

Until next time,

live long and prosper.

P.S. Have I already started to sound more like a critic?

Photo at the top of the post shows a scene from the musical “42nd Street” (1933), in which auditioning women show their legs for the director.

Watch along

People watch a lot of TV every day. They come home, make a little something to eat and plop down on the couch to get some passive entertainment. For hours on end.

I looked up the TV viewing numbers for some countries, and for most people, it would not be difficult to fit a movie into their viewing time every day. And it could be quite a long one.

This makes me freak out a whole lot less about committing to so much passive screen time every day for a year, and it makes me feel a lot better about my existing  TV habits. It also makes it less difficult to ask others to participate in this movie experiment. If you’re gonna watch a lot of TV anyway, why not do it in a slightly constructive manner?

I made a map that shows average minutes of watching TV each day for some countries across the globe. The lowest number is from Moldova with 110 minutes of TV each day, and the highest number is from Saudi Arabia with 409 minutes a day. These numbers do not include online TV, streaming and so on, so the numbers are probably quite a bit higher in reality.

TV-minutes-each-day

Sources for the map: Media consumption forecast 2015 and List of countries by population. Hover over each country to get the numbers.

The countries with viewing numbers on that map contains approximately 67% of the worlds population, and on average the people in these countries watch 175 minutes, or nearly three hours, of TV each day. Most movies will fit in to that time very well, so it should not take away a lot of extra time for most people to watch a movie instead of their regular TV programs.

And so, for many, taking part in my little experiment would be a simple shift in what is viewed, and not for how long they view.

In short, my experiment is to watch a movie every day for a year. The movies are a mixture of critics favorites and audience hits. And the question I try to answer with the experiment is will this diet of the finest movies (or prime cuts to make the bad pun) make a change in my taste of movies?

And so can you.

Here is a bit more about how to participate, if you want to do that.

Participate

More details about each of these steps

Step 1 – How long to participate in the experiment and how much of the movies to see.

The full length of the experiment for me is a year, but that might not be convenient for others. Maybe six months or three months are better. It is easiest for me to tally up any results in the end if the participation is divided into quarters, but I guess I can handle anything. As long as the other steps are followed as well.

How much to participate in the experiment is completely optional as well. You can choose any system that in some way more or less randomly chooses between the audience favorites and the critically acclaimed movies, and the ones that fall in both categories. Some possibilities are:

  • watch the movies that are scheduled for Tuesdays
  • watch the movies that came out after you were born
  • watch the movies you have not seen
  • watch all the 365 movies
  • watch the movies that are in a language you speak

Choose a system of some kind, and stick to it. (As best you can.)

Step 2 – Make some initial notes.

Note down your system for watching movies and for how long you will participate. Also note down if you have any connection to the movie industry or are a movie critic. It would also be nice if you wrote down your expectations for what it would be like to participate and if you have any preconceived notions on what the result will be. Do you believe your taste will as a result of this experiment, or are you genuinely not have any idea about the outcome for you?

Step 3 – Watch the movies

Then comes the, hopefully, fun part. Watch the movies and note down what you honestly thought about them. Make the note here on my blog, or anywhere else you want. Just write down enough so that you later can go back and see  whether your opinion has changed.

Or you can write a whole captain’s log, like me.

Step 4 – Quarterly review of taste

At the end of every three month period, it would be nice to see if, and then maybe how much, anyone’s taste in movies have changed.

Step 5 – End of year review

Finally comes the end review where you more thoroughly go through what you thought of every movie you saw, and note down how right that is now.

Easy peasy.

Or you can just follow along here on the blog and see if my taste changes at all.

After the twelve months I will go through all the end of year reviews, or maybe it will just be mine, and see what effect the experiment has had, if any.

Picture at the top of the post is of a postcard showing Movies “Over the Waves” at Lumina, Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, N.C. in 1926.

365 honest opinions

First I decided to watch one movie each day for a year, then I set up a list of 365 movies to watch. As I wish to see if my taste and maybe preferences change on this steady diet of a mixture of critically acclaimed and audience’s favorite movies, I now need to find a way to record my reactions to each movie, or my experiment will not count for much. (Even though it is a quite unscientific little investigation, I would like to see the results.)

Which is were this blog enters the story.

opinion-yawn

Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) yawning. Photo by Daisuke TashiroFlickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Original photo

I will try to record my opinion of each movie as the year progresses, and I will attempt brutal honesty. I can not try to make some kind of analysis or review, if I am to go back and reexamine my opinion. I must write my subjective reaction and how much I enjoyed the movie. It might be difficult to be direct enough in my evaluation, especially if or when it goes against commonly held believes. However, it will be important that I try, for the sake of the experiment.

So then, I must record my opinion every day and reexamine these opinions evenly through the year, and when I have seen all of the movies.

I should definitely not do this in the form of a review. Firstly, it would not serve the purpose of my experiment, and secondly, the last thing the internet needs more of is movie reviews. So I should try to simply record my opinion and leave the reviews to others.

A captain’s log

It struck me then how much an account of watching a movie is similar to a captain’s log as these are used on Star Trek.

Exposition

First the captain gives some exposition about the current episode, maybe so the producers don’t have to film every part of the episode or story. Or maybe so the episode can be about the more interesting parts of the tale.

Captain_kirk_publicity_photo

William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk.

We are orbiting planet Ursina 4 for the forth day in a row while we wait for Dr. Bones and his staff to inoculate the female population against the Red Leezle plague.

The rest of the crew has taken some much needed time for maintenance, practice and drills, but even I am running tired of the safety drills now. Hopefully the good doctor will finish his mission soon and we can get on our way.

I have decided to give the crew some time off for recharging. Not everyone is happy with having to spend their time in leisure, but most have found some way of entertaining themselves.

 

And we all know that the episode would involve good old Captain Kirk getting his shirt of, when the story is about a disease that only hits the female population.

In a recounting of watching a movie, the beginning is a similar exposition. Telling the setup of the story, without giving away the ending or any other major surprises.

The movie tells the story of a young girl traveling to her grandmother to deliver food supplies from her parents. The journey takes her through the woods.

Reactions

Next, Captain Kirk will randomly mull over the further happenings of the episode, often intertwined with his evaluation of the opposing stances of the logical Commander Spock and the proudly emotional Dr. Bones. The Captain seems to have little thought for the poor creature tasked with listening through his log. Maybe these entries are made so that Starfleet command can keep track of their captains’ mental states. It is hard to imagine any other reason for these entries, or maybe it is a tradition of captains logs from the time of sail ships.

Leonard_Nimoy_Spock_1967

Leonard Nimoy as Commander Spock.

Kareela has won my heart, and Bones does make a lot of sense, but I can not ignore the greater good and Spock’s advice. What am I too do?

Many of the crew have some basic medical training and has offered to travel down to Ursina 4 to help with the inoculations, but only the male medics can be allowed to go, and we do not have enough medicine for more teams to help out.

On a positive note; Bones has postponed my annual medical check while he is busy on Ursina 4.

Maybe the captain would deliberate over some ethical or moral dilemma, without any context, while getting his shirt off.

In recounting the viewing experience of a movie, the next logical step would be to jot down a somewhat stream of consciousness recounting of immediate reactions after the days movie. Hopefully it would not be an equally out of context series of remarks.

A nice touch with the red hood, but did they really need to emphasize it so much that they didn’t even give her a name? “Red Riding Hood” is probably not the name her parents gave her.

Also, some of the scenes were surprisingly graphic. I would probably not let my youngest see this movie.

Contemplations

The next part of a captain’s log would probably be a bit more coherent. An analysis of the current situation.

DeForest_Kelley,_Dr._McCoy,_Star_Trek

DeForest Kelley as Dr. “Bones” McCoy.

It seems Bones was not in time to inoculate the women of the remote region Stalheim on Ursina 4, and the plague has now reached this area. Little can be done to prolong the life of the infected, but there is still a chance that some of the women can be saved. If the women that doesn’t show symptoms yet are given the injection, there is a remote chance that some of them have not been infected and the inoculation will save them. This is what Bones wants to do.

However, the population of Stalheim is small and using the medical personnel and the inoculations on the population in a larger area, might save more people. There is also a very small chance that the plague will bypass this more densely populated area.

Spock has calculated that the highest chance of saving the most people will be to inoculate the more populous area. Bones can not bring himself to abandon the women of Stalheim though. And I understand. Especially after meeting Kareela from Stalheim.

How can I possibly abandon her? And what kind of man would that make me?

The next part in my movie opinion would also be more coherent; a highly subjective recounting of my opinion of various elements of the movie, like story, sound, picture, acting or whatever else was in some way noticeable.

The music playing in the woods was just the right for the scary mood of this part of the story.

The story was a too unbelievable and who sends their kid on errands through a scary wood, anyway? Some parts of the story is not very logical, even by the internal logic of the universe set up in the movie.

Judgement

Next, the good Captain will give an account of his choice in whatever dilemma or crisis he has been set to judge this time, and maybe justify his choice to some extent.

I must however see the greater good, and the greatest good for these women of Ursina 4. And that would be to save the cities and central areas, and maybe one day Bones and Kareela will forgive me for making the choice they are so opposed to.

Similarly, the succeeding part of my movie opinion would be my conclusion, or my personal verdict of the movie.

The movie “Red Riding Hood” was exciting all the way through and I didn’t feel bored at all. The story was engaging and I would see it again some day without groaning in anticipation. The story, and the movie it self will probably not stay with me for very long. Quite forgettable. But worth the time it took to see the movie.

Epilogue

Sometimes at the end of the episode Captain Kirk would try to impart some wisdom that he has learned from today’s episode, sometimes also with a pun or a little joke. Often an extremely general conclusion from a specific, and unique, incident.

spock-kirk-bones

Leonard Nimoy as Commander Spock, William Shatner as Captain Kirk and DeForest Kelley as Dr. “Bones” McCoy.

It would seem that any ills of a society that befalls only the women, will not be dealt with until it threatens welfare of everyone.

Let’s not fall prey to such ignorant behavior ourselves here one the Enterprise, eh Spock. Make sure we are not ignoring any problems here just because it only concerns the female staff.

Have them all report to my cabin so that I can interview them on the subject. Set up a schedule so I can have some one on one time with each of them, will you Spock?

I will finally in my recounting try to give an opinion on who would enjoy the movie, who I would recommend the movie for and maybe what kind of mood or day it would go well with. Just a kind of final sentence to end my telling of what it was like to watch this movie.

I don’t think most people would enjoy “Little Red Riding Hood” unless they have some kind of connection to the story already. A nice viewing for a boring, rainy day. No more.

This is not meant to be a review, just how I would tell a friend about the movie and what to expect.

My writings

So then, this breakdown of a captain’s log on Star Trek is how I will structure my recounting of experiencing each movie.

Every quarter I will go over my opinions and and see if I still agree with my own captain’s logs. I will rewatch a couple of randomly chosen movies, and try to evaluate any change in movie taste.

At the end of the year, I will have a much bigger review and try to put some numbers on any change, or lack there of, to make some statistics about the experiment.

Photo at top of the page shows a stack of firewood, or a bunch of logs (such a bad joke). Photo taken by Simon Koopmann, CC BY-SA 2.5, Original photo.

365 movies

After deciding to watch 365 movies in a year, I had to figure out witch movies to see.

Choosing the movies

In order for my experiment to work, the movies should be a mixture of popular once and the once loved by critics, they should be randomly distributed across the year and they should be praised for different reasons. My choice fell on movies from some of the more common lists on the net.

Here are some of them:

Not all the movies on all of these lists made the cut. I filtered the list mainly by availability, some are not easily found on any streaming services or similar, and some are difficult to find in English, either as voice acting, dubbing or subtitles.

I was finally, after having to check where one can watch a lot of different movies, left with a list of 365 movies.

About the movies

I have now collected some facts about these movies, a little for my own sake, and a little for anyone that should want to watch along, in order to get some insight into what to expect.

At the same time, I tried out a few different tools for visualization, to see what works on this blog.

First, apparently I should use infographics to impart information.

new-piktochart_21907624_5bfe9c26bac0b9631daa800b83fd6a2946ac1dbc

wordcloudI also tried making a word cloud for the categories of the movies, witch I found to be better fit for these data. (I liked the word cloud visualization.)

In addition to the labels in the cloud, almost all of the movies were labelled as dramas, but I do not know how accurate this is for all of them. It seems like some of them got this label solely because there is some kind of dramatization of human behavior, and for several of the once I have seen, it does not fit my typical idea of a drama. I limited the labels of each movie to two, and left out drama.

movie-year

Movies by year.

For those who are specially interested I made a more detailed chart of the release year for each movie. And there is a clear tendency towards fewer movies from years further into the past.

I have also made a more detailed list of the languages of the movies that are not in English. Most of the animated movies can be seen in several languages, and in my data they have been listed as English. There are 78 movies not in English, and 11 of these are silent movies. I therefore count 67 of the movies as foreign language movies.

movie-lang

Foreign language movies by language.

There are a few surprises on the list, and a few that anyone would have guessed. Many of the movies are new to me, some I haven’t seen, and some I haven’t even heard of.

I am now starting to wonder what to expect from these movies.

I have for instance never seen 11 silent movies before, ever. I have tried to figure out what to expect with all these statistics, but I will just have to wait and see.

Maybe the 365 movies are like a box of chocolate, and with about half of them, I don’t know what I’m gonna get.

Photo at the top of the post was taken by W.carterOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0 and perfectly illustrates the question: What movies to watch?.

The best movies ever

If you google the best movies ever, the results will be quite diverse. Some best movies lists are made for or by audiences, like the box office top earners or the movies with most viewer votes. Other lists are made by critics or movie professionals, like winners of some types of awards (like the Oscars), or critics associations lists of best movies ever. And there is far from full agreement between the two types. It is not unlikely to hear sentences like “adored by audiences and critics alike” when talking about a movie. We all accept and know that this difference exists, that there is two types of best movies.

There doesn’t seem to be the same kind of discrepancy when it comes to TV-shows. (It seems we all agree that “The Wire” is the best TV-show ever. I certainly do.) But finding an equally ubiquitous answer about the best movie ever, is not as simple.

So when I tried to find the best movies ever, google could just as well have answered me “Do you mean critically acclaimed, or do you mean popular among audiences?”

MUNTADAS_-_The_Press_Conference_Room,_1991

The installation artwork “Words: The Press Conference Room” by Muntadas made oddly funny lately thanks to the efforts of Sean Spicer. Photo by Edharary (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It seems critics and audiences want movies to be something different. Maybe critics want them to be art, an experience, an expression of us as humans, something that stirs the viewer. Or maybe they want something entirely different. And audiences might just want an evenings entertainment.

Naturally this doesn’t mean that every critic disagrees with audiences and that every audience member that isn’t a movie professional or a critic just want entertainment, at least not all the time. But there is a definite trend in this direction.

Then what does the ordinary audience member, like myself, think about these critically acclaimed movies.

Surely they are not boring, at least for the most part. Perhaps they just don’t fill the need for some light entertainment and escape, or is there something else, something more.

Maybe what makes the critics pic the favorites that they do stems from education in and reading about movie theory, movie history, knowledge about how movies are made. A kind of schooling in what a movie should be. And when they sit down to watch a movie they make a little bit of an occasion out of it, they are prepared to be emotionally stirred. While the rest of us just plop down when we have nothing better to do, or when we are bored, and expect some entertainment.

Or maybe time is part of the explanation. A long movie to make a point is not as interesting as a meme. We want quick fixes of entertainment, and the movies critics want to see simply take to long to make the point. Like the installation on the picture, we want to get to the point quickly and move on to the next thing. We might not have the attention span for art movies. And that is maybe not just a new thing. I have fallen asleep a dozen times over the years trying to watch the docking scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968).

My favorite movies over the years have been, among many others, “The Goonies” (1985), “Dirty Dancing” (1987), “Weekend at Bernies” (1989) and “Sev7n” (1995), witch might say more about my age and where I’m from, than any objective measure about these movies. However, only the last of these usually make the kind of lists that boast best movies ever, and the movies really were my favorites.

I mean, how can anyone not love “The Goonies”?

If I want to appreciate or understand the movies that critics love, I could just read a bunch of books on the subject. Imagery in movies, the history of movies, movie criticism, the use of colors in movies, and so on. Maybe I could take a few classes on these subjects as well. And that is a possibility, naturally.

But what I want is to see if there also is a more habitual and situational reason for loving the movies that critics recommend.

If I get used to seeing more of the best movies ever as determined by critics and movie professionals, will that get me used to and teach me enough about these movies to appreciate them, the way they do, or will I still just want some easy viewing?

So I thought, what if I watch a movie a day for a year. Many of them from critics lists of best movies ever, and about half from the lists of most popular movies with audiences. Will I then, after the year is up, still feel the same way about movies, or will I want something different?  Will a kind of osmosis of movie excellence make me want to watch different movies afterwards?

In order to measure any change I will have to record my opinions about the movies I watch. At the end of the experiment, I can then go back and see if my earliest opinions are naive, dumb or uneducated, or if I still agree with my former self.

Just a small experiment about learning, movies and development.

And if you think this is just an excuse to lazily sit and watch a movie every day, well you’re not entirely wrong. I think it might be a little bit of that too.

Photo at the top of the post shows Ohio State Reformatory where parts of “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed. “The Shawshank Redemption” is the top rated movie on IMDb. Photo by Brenda GottsabendOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0