When Did Movies Become Work?

I’m serious when it comes to film. I enjoy watching films, but they can take a lot out of me. It took getting a full-time job to realize something I’ve suspected for years: movies are work to me. They’re very fulfilling, highly enjoyable work, but they’re still work. This means that when I get to the end of a work day, watching a movie is not relaxing, watching a movie is more work.

When I watch a movie, I can’t turn off that part of my brain that processes movies, thinks about composition, examines story structure, tries to dig into the themes or contemplates a film’s connection to a similar work. Even movies I’ve seen time and time again end up leading my mind down new rabbit trails as I notice new things about them.

I think the way I’ve structured how I approach my site and write about it has been somewhat constraining. While I like the idea of marathons, in practice they’ve become restrictive and obligatory. Most of what I write on the site feels like it’s associated with a marathon and comes from this overarching structure of what the marathon is supposed to be about and I find that stifling.

Committing to writing once a week to Movie Mezzanine is also becoming less and less viable and I won’t’ be writing for them for the foreseeable future. While I’ve enjoyed writing The Second Criterion, a lot of the posts are rushed to meet a deadline and not inspired. There have already been some vast gaps between posts and some of the ones I rushed to write felt like they got cast out there before I honed in on what I hoped to say.

There’s something to be said for these constraints and deadlines. They’ve forced me to write in times where I might not have otherwise. However, I’m getting a stronger desire to push myself as a writer and I think one of the ways I need to do that is by exploring. That’s part of the reason behind the TV posts. It’s a way to try a new structure and write in a different way.

I’m getting tired of straight movie reviews. I often fall back on a formula when writing reviews and reviews rarely challenge me as a writer. It feels like busywork, something I do without even thinking about it. I certainly don’t plan on abandoning them altogether, but I think I need to pick up a new structure when writing about movies.

I don’t know what that looks like. Part of that is exciting to me. Last year felt like I stagnated as a writer, this year I want to give myself the space to explore. What does this mean? For now, the marathons are going to be on hold. If I get the inclination to watch something from a marathon, I might write about it, but I might not. I’m going to write about a movie if it inspires me to write something about it, not out of any sense of obligation of a desire to fill in some list.

Essentially, I’m not making a commitment to write anything. I’m sure I’ll still end up writing a lot, but I’m not going to do it out of obligation. My time is becoming more and more valuable and as I take on more commitments, I don’t want movies to feel like another obligation. If you ask about my thoughts on a film, I might just give you a sentence or two and that may be all you ever get. I may never finish any of the marathons on this site, in fact, I’m tempted to take them down.

I want to explore. I watched an Yasujiro Ozu film (Late Spring) the other day and it’s spawned a desire to abandon all my movie-watching plans for this month and dive into his work. I’ll probably end up writing something about his films, but they won’t be reviews. I need that kind of freedom. It has me excited to go home and watch the next film and instead of first feeling obligated to write something down for every film I see. I’m letting the films spin in my head for a while and we’ll see what comes.

© 2014 James Blake Ewing