Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Movie Every Day?

Most people know him as Tom Servo, a sort of robotic gumball machine who lives aboard a spaceship in the cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000. In real life, however, he is Kevin Murphy, an extremely funny comedian who, as part of the MST3K cast, has provided me with enough grins and guffaws to last a lifetime.

Yet many fans of MST3K may be unaware that Murphy is the author of a book entitled A Year at the Movies: One Man's Filmgoing Odyssey, in he chronicles 12 months living up to an extraordinary goal. "Beginning tomorrow, January 1, 2001, I, Kevin Murphy, promise to go to a theater and watch a movie every single day, for an entire year," he wrote. And he did it. The tome is less a book of movie reviews than a travelogue—Murphy traveled to all sorts of places, from local drive-ins to Cannes, France, to see movies.

As 2009 quickly approaches (it's in less than 2 hours, by my clock), Murphy has provided the inspiration for me to attempt something similar, albeit slightly less ambitious. I'm going to try to watch a movie a day for a year, but I'm going to drag my ass to the theater every day. I have, in my private collection, nearly 400 movies on DVD that I've never seen. The problem is, I never watch them. I've been squirreling them away, not for the winter but for my old age. Well, I guess that time has finally come. Time to bust open the floodgates and sample some of the films I've been collecting. It's a pretty interesting batch of movies...classics (Born Yesterday), musicals (Funny Girl), heavy dramas (The Pawnbroker), science fiction (I, Robot), light comedies (I'll Take Sweden), westerns (Joe Kidd), innumerable 1970s TV movies (Family Flight), and schlock (Schlock).

In fact, after careful perusal of my list of unseen DVDs, it occurs to me that to keep things interesting, I can schedule "theme weeks" for myself. I was able to organize most of the movies into categories such as:

Three Men in a Boat
The Railway Children
The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer
The Witches
The Wrong Box

1970s WEEK
The Seven-Percent Solution
The Eiger Sanction
The Getaway
Pretty Baby
Hearts of the West
Play it as it Lays
The Last of Sheila


Snow Falling on Cedars
Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity
The Joy Luck Club
Double Happiness
Eat Drink Man Woman
The Last Emperor
Xiu Xiu

Other theme weeks I'm planning will include the following categories: science fiction, musicals, foreign language, remakes, cult/trash, historical dramas, movies based on plays, comedy, horror, thrillers, obscurities, westerns, and movies featuring some of my favorite performers: Woody Allen, Walter Matthau, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Eden, George Sanders, and the Marx Brothers. In addition, I'll do a week of the seven movies I most want to see in my vast collection, as well as one week each highlighting the selected favorites of my dear friends Merf and Connie.

Before I even embark on my own odyssey, I know in my heart it is doomed to failure. There's just no way I can watch a movie every single day, especially since I already watch a bunch of TV shows (including Desperate Housewives, Lost, Scrubs, The Office, Special Victims Unit, Without a Trace, 30 Rock and Monk). So I'm going to give myself a little slack—I'm going to try to see an average of one movie a day. If I skip a day, I've got to watch two the following day. Or, if I see two in one day, I get the following day off.

Oh. And if I see a movie in an actual theater, sorry, but that's going to have to count as my having seen a movie.

By the end of 2009, I will have made a huge dent in my collection. And although I am constantly adding more titles, the ones I already have represent most of the films I most want to see. I can't help but wonder how many I will actually enjoy. Each film will be graded on a 1-5 scale. At the end of the year, I'll tally the results and work out the average of all 365 movies; I'll predict the average will be 3.2.

The friends I've discussed my plan with agree that I lack the drive, the determination, the sheer time such an undertaking will require. I can't say I disagree with them, but I'm keen to see how long I can go. A week? A month? We shall see...

Beginning tomorrow, January 1, 2009, I, Brett Bayne, promise to sit at home on my lazy ass and watch a movie every single day, for an entire year.