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January 13, 2005

While watching the various retrospectives in NY, I noticed a few other repeat customers who were attending the same films I was, which reminded me of Cinemania, a documentary I'd always meant to catch about obsessive compulsive moviegoers. I watched it this afternoon, and sure enough, a few of its distinctive subjects had sat in front of me at more than one movie.

I watch a lot of movies, more than most people; and I know people who watch more movies than I do. But these folks' love of cinema is a little bit off the deep end -- and not because they do nothing but watch films day in and day out (something I wouldn't mind doing from time to time) but because they don't seem to reciprocate in any way. It is true that watching movies can enrich your life and let you experience things vicariously you'd otherwise miss out on, but what's the point when you're merely a sponge, when there's no form of output whatsoever? All that enrichment goes to waste. But I suppose that's compulsion for you, I suppose, and as Roger Ebert said in his review, there are things far worse than movies to be obsessed with.

There was a time not too long ago when I had trouble understanding how anyone who loved movies couldn't want to be involved in making them. I overcame this when I realized that I myself didn't want to make movies solely for an audience of filmmakers.

Posted by David Lowery at January 13, 2005 3:27 AM


What's amazing to me is that the subjects of Cinemania -- bar the semi-intellectual one, who still holds a job [I think it was Jack] -- love movies as an escape mechanism -- there's no deeper critical thinking about movies, which you would sort of expect from anyone who watches so many. I'm not sure I'm making my point very clearly here, but it just seems to me that, if you were to watch movies all day, every day, you'd have nothing to escape from in the first place, thus denoting some other need that needs to be fulfilled. The only one I can think of, beyond some kind of healing of emotional or psychological scarring [and I wouldn't put that past Roberta, whose near-psychosis didn't appeal to me at all], is a critical or aesthetic one -- which not one of subjects seemed to have, personal taste aside, at all!

Posted by: Matt at January 13, 2005 6:32 AM

Precisely. It's way past the point of edification, and in that aspect, watching movies is more akin to...I don't know, something like shoplifting or overeating (although, again, far more beneficial than both of those compulsory habits).

Harry Knowles strikes me as the antithesis of these cinemaniacs. He easily watches as many films as they do, but he's turned his obsession into a.) an outlet and b.) a window into the industry.

Posted by: Ghostboy at January 14, 2005 1:57 AM

At the same time, Knowles is frightening in his own right.

Posted by: Matt at January 14, 2005 7:17 AM

The thing I love so much about Harry is that he loves everything. And by that I don't mean that he loves every movie he sees, but that his love of cinema envelops all forms and genres. It's a trait I'm happy to share. And while I don't necessarily like to consider myself a film geek, per se...well, you should have seen me freak out over a photograph of Darth Vader from Episode III the other day.

Posted by: Ghostboy at January 14, 2005 4:31 PM

That's the Generation X in you.

Posted by: Matt at January 14, 2005 4:37 PM