Films I Quit Watching

Earlier this month, I decided to watch Makoto Shinaki’s The Place Promised in Our Early Days. People recommended that I watch his film 5 Centimeters Per Second, but I’ve yet to find a copy. After getting thirty minutes into The Place Promised in Our Early Days, I stopped watching it. The annoying narration, ambivalent storytelling and bizarre twist left me irritated. Also, the film exacerbated my bad mood.

The experience reminded me of the few films I didn’t watch to completion. I’m sure some of my readers have a good number of films they didn’t get around to finishing. Perhaps they lost interest and forgot the film to the point where they’d have to start over and didn’t feel up to it. Also, life happens. Sometimes we have to put our film on pause in order to deal with something else for a while.

I’ve made it a point to stick with every film I start watching. No matter how bad, no matter how busy I get, no matter what other external circumstances get in the way. I’ve never walked out of a movie theater before the credits roll and I have a 99.9% competition record on the films I start watching. However, a few films slipped through the crack. Some film I regret not finishing, but others I left with a sigh of relief.

Excluding the aforementioned The Place Promised in Our Early Days, I’ve only willfully abandoned one film with great pleasure: Step Up 2: The Streets. If you could embody everything I am not into one film (that isn’t named Crank: High Voltage, which I watched in its entirety), it would be Step Up 2. Urban, hip, edgy, popular, fun, cool. And all that terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible music. No thanks.

My reasons for leaving had to do more with the fact I was with a group of friends who forced this film on my after I said in no uncertain terms I did not want to view this film. I roughed it for a while, heckling the film in an attempt to evade entertaining suicidal thoughts, and then left a bit before the halfway mark, joyfully celebrating my release from inhumane torture.

Oddly enough, earlier the same day with the same group of friends we started watching The Mummy but we quit about halfway through to go do something else and we never finished it. All my other friends had seen it, of course, and so they didn’t feel the need to finish it. They were a bit surprised I hadn’t seen it, but I was too busy going through cinemaphillia puberty in those days, above watching such populist dribble.  The first hour amused me and I might return to it someday, but it’s not high on my list.

I abandoned Inland Empire about two hours into the film, frustrated by the lack of any semblance of narrative coherence. In retrospect, I wasn’t ready for Lynch at the time. This too took place during my early forays into art cinema, and Lynch requires a bit more of an open mind than I had at the time. It’s a film I intend to revisit in the future as I’ve since gained an appreciation for Lynch’s bizarre style.

Mean Streets is the film I most regret not finishing in the moment. In this case, I get the opportunity to blame someone else. While I was watching the film, Corey Atad started bugging me to join him in this newfangled thing called Google Hangout. I should have finished the film first, but I figured I could hang out with him for a bit and then finish off the movie.

But with Mean Streets expiring from Netflix instant in the next few hours, I’d doomed myself to not finishing the film. Once you get into a good conversation with Corey, you can keep going for hours. Around two in the morning we finally quit talking and I found I couldn’t access Mean Streets on Netflix Instant anymore. Alas. I enjoyed it enough that I look forward to going back and rewatching the entire film.

Other than that, I’m fairly certain that I’ve finished every film I’ve started watching (at least since I started watching movies “seriously”). It’s possible that a few titles have escaped my mind, but I have distinct memories of leaving these films that make them stand out to me a lot more than similar films I watched to completion.

Are you consistent about finishing films? Are there films you didn’t finish that you regret not watching to completion? Are there other films you have no regret abandoning?

© 2012 James Blake Ewing