I just can’t watch movies with anyone but my family. And by watch I mean fully engross ourselves.
My family is very close. We get along really well and have a strong friend vibe that connects us. I never understood families with rigid hierarchies or distant relationships. My Mom, Dad, Sister and Brother are all my closest friends and know me better than anyone. Yes, sure, I lived in a house with them for 18 years. And yeah, I guess I sprang from my Mother’s loins and instantly had my Dad’s disposition, but so did a lot of people who hate their parents.
This great relationship is definitely due to generally possessing similar personalities, as well as how our parents raised us, but in that is our love of film and television. My family lives through the TV screen. We go to the movies religiously. We talk to each other through references. By experiencing and connecting to films together, we end up experiencing and connecting with each other. It is not uncommon for us to celebrate the Holidays by going to see the new big budget release of the year (anyone want to see Les Mis on Christmas??).
Me receiving TNG s1 for Christmas a few years ago…best!
My parents are creative and driven, and they are both gifted story tellers through multiple mediums. Diving head first into a good story, whether it be in a movie, a song, a book or a piece of art, was what we lived for.
Obviously, this love of experiencing story viscerally was my driving reason to go to film school. I wanted to create those experiences for similar families and individuals who took so much joy from laughing, crying and reciting lines together. But this is not a vomit-inducing post about my family and my passions. It’s about the harsh realities of a cinephile leaving her comfort zone.
After graduating High School, I went from one voyeuristic family to another: my Park School friends at college. We were all the same – wholly in love with film and TV. It’s all we cared about. We could only go to parties with other Parkies because even our small talk was limited to the entertainment industry. And that was just fine.
After graduating I was thrust into that purgatory that happens for about a year after college, where I was painfully poor and painfully confused about my life. Not much TV or movie watching happened, and I ended up having to leave my mecca (LA) for a more…practicle (?) landscape. With leaving LA also came leaving most of my cinephile safety bubble that I had created over the past four years. I found a new lovely group of friends. Some of whom shared my love (yaayy!) but didn’t experience it quite the same. My boyfriend enjoys movies and TV very much. I’m lucky to find someone willing to power watch 30 Rock and Fringe with me for an entire 24 hours without hearing a peep of a protest. But there are some things he just won’t do, and I am left unsatisfied. I realized that I’ll never feel the same as I do when I watch movies or TV with my family.
Now that it’s about to be Christmas, and my sister is home from college, I am extremely excited to get back to the old days of watching films and shows almost obnoxiously. For all of you friends who are thinking, “I love movies! How am I not a good enough movie watching buddy for this bitch?” …here is why:
1) My sister, brother and I talk through movies… and fuck you if you shhh us. Yeah, on the outside this might seem annoying, but what we’re really doing is interacting with the film. We’re commenting on characters and plot points, talking about how plausible a scene is, how beautiful a score is, and relating all of it to our own lives. We also end up making a lot of jokes about the characters and usually end up doing an entirely oral character study of them while watching said film. This is how we experience it.
2) We are violently in love with trailers and previews. If you’re taking one of us to the movies and say something along the lines of, “Good, we’re going to miss the previews. I hate those,” or “Don’t worry, we won’t be late. There are like 20 minutes of previews before the movie,” consider yourself excommunicated. The previews are the best part. We revel in the sneak peak, action packed emotional glimpses we get from a beautifully crafted trailer. We let them hype us up. It is common that you will see us hitting each other’s legs with excitement when the trailer for the new Star Trek or Tom Cruise movie appears on the screen. We will freak the fuck out.
3) Going to midnight showings is a spiritual experience. It’s how we show our love and gratitude to a film we’ve been dying to see. Lately, I’ve notice that I haven’t done this in a while, but without my family there to make it a big event it just doesn’t feel the same. We get food, make t-shirts, pre-order our tickets and get in line VERY early so we can…
4) …get the perfect seats. This is mathematical. You need to be about two thirds back from the screen and dead in the middle of the row. You paid a lot of money for this experience, why not fight to have the best view possible? You want the screen to fill your line of sight. You don’t want to be craning your neck or squinting to see anything. And, (something that very few people pay attention to) you don’t want to see the lights lining the walkways in your peripherals. This is PAINFULLY distracting.
Example of a shirt my sister made for the premiere of Robin Hood. We all wore them to the theater.
5a) We see everything. We want to see scary movies, historical dramas, thrillers, comedies, action, scifi, straight up dramas, musicals, documentaries, whatever. We want to see it ALL, and we don’t believe in “not liking” a certain genre. I still don’t understand why my boyfriend isn’t interested in scary movies, or can’t find the entertainment in Titanic or Harry Potter. It’s literally mind boggling.
5b) In order to see everything, we go to the movies as often as our bank account allows. In a perfect world I would go to the movies three or four times a week. Keep up.
6) Not only do we see everything, but we love almost everything. We watch all movies with full knowledge of target demographics and insight into how it was made, so we can forgive (or understand) flaws better than others. I’m not a snobby cinephile, and I can’t stand those that are. I love to be entertained, and if a movie is a well constructed romcom, I’m gonna love it. If it’s nothing but blowing up shit with catchy one-liners, I’m gonna love it. If it has Liam Neeson in it, I’m gonna love it. If you bring your pretentious crap anywhere near me, I will argue with you until you die. I promise.
7) When it comes to television, we take our schedule very seriously. As a child some of the best times we had as a family was sitting down to watch Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and Lois and Clark together. My parents introduced us to Star Trek and the amazingness that is Kyle Chandler (Early Edition). I lived around prime time, and nothing has changed today. It makes life easier having Hulu and DVRs etc, but come 8pm Sunday through Friday, my ass is in front of the TV and my cellphone is usually blowing up with e-mails from my Mom about how hilarious this week’s Castle is. This is how we live.
8) You need to have stamina. My favorite thing in the world is eating a supreme pizza and power watching episodes of TNG or the X-Files. A few weeks ago I watched Dawson’s Creek for 22 hours straight. I am not shitting you. This is how we spend quality time together.
9) Our “Holiday Movies” don’t make sense. We watch Independence Day and War of the Worlds on Christmas, Gangs of New York on Thanksgiving, and Last of the Mohicans on any holiday involving fireworks. We do, however, watch When Harry Met Sally on NYE. There’s just no substitute.
10) The Codners get excited!! When talking about something we love or find funny in a movie, we will generally blow it up to be something bigger than it is. We will enthusiastically describe it to you and force you to watch the movie, and then when the scene hits we will squeal with delight. You will probably look at us like we’re insane, because it’s nowhere near as funny/good/emotional as we said it would be. This is a product of our internalizing everything. We’re an imaginative group.
I miss this unhealthy and odd way of consuming media. I know it probably sounds really awful, but it makes us very happy. This Holiday season, the best gift of all would be to go to the movies with my family and get weird with it.