On Enjoyment

Watching movies is insanely easy nowadays.  Re-watching movies, same case.  If you name a movie, unless it’s something super-weird and rare I can probably download a copy of it that would rival a flawless 16mm print put through a projector with a brand new bulb on full power with all the dust removed from the air in the room.  It’ll take an hour to download at the most.  Maybe it’s on Netflix in HD, maybe it’s on Amazon Prime, maybe it’s a BluRay or DVD that I dumped onto my hard drive, or worst-case scenario I had to tell the magical box in the living room to record it as it plays on channel 1205 without me ever having to turn on my TV.  If you like a movie you can watch the hell out of it.

I had a great time seeing Inception a year and a half ago.  Remember Inception?  Leonardo DiCaprio invades people’s dreams, that somehow means a shitload of guns onscreen, Michael Caine is there for some reason, PG-13 mindfuckery…big deal movie.  Summer tentpole.  Everyone loved it when it came out, then as Christmas came around people started pointing out plot holes, vocalizing things they found wrong about it, and questioning the reason for there being so god damn many guns in a movie about dreams within dreams.  It lost its luster for a ton of people.

At the last minute they photoshopped the gun out of Ellen Page's hand

I saw Inception in perfect circumstances.  My girlfriend at the time was seeing it with a different group of people, so I didn’t have to answer questions for her if she missed something and I wasn’t going to have to deal with my arm going numb halfway through the movie because it’s around her.  I had watched The Aviator and The Departed recently so I was unusually primed to accept DiCaprio playing an adult.  Most helpfully, my senses and intellect were fairly well dulled by the beers my roommate and I drank at Cogan’s Pizza before the movie, so I was primed to fully enjoy what mainstream Hollywood calls a “mind-blowing thriller.”  And enjoy it I did.

That movie had me by the collar for its entire seven-hour runtime.  I walked out of that theater full of satisfaction and endorphins.  The movie hit me, it worked.  It did what movies are supposed to do.  I had a fantastic experience seeing Inception.  

Here’s the problem with really enjoying seeing a movie – every time it happens, I make the mistake of thinking it’s all the movie.  So I get the BluRay, or I watch it on TV, or maybe I download it.  It becomes this thing I can pop open and seek through any time I want.  If I want to see the awesome terms of surrender scene at the end of Kingdom of Heaven where you realize a movie told from Saladin’s perspective would have been way better, I can.  I know exactly where to click on the seek bar.  Movies now are really no different than a song or a book.  You don’t even have to rewind them anymore, they’re just there.  You can easily make a mental list of all the “good parts” and make yourself a visual salad.

It sounds great, but you know what?  I can’t make it through Kingdom of Heaven anymore.  There’s just nothing special about seeing it.  I loved seeing it for the first time, but now I have no patience for it because there is no reason to be patient.  It’s like listening to Bohemian Rhapsody – all I want to do is fast-forward through the slow part.

This has all hit me kind of recently, so I’ve come to a decision – I’m never going to watch Inception again.  I loved Inception.  It was a cinematic hole-in-one for me.  It’s never going to be better than it was, and repeated viewings are only going to cheapen what was a very satisfying experience, so I’m done with it.  Any time someone asks me what I thought of Inception I will simply say “it was great,” because I saw it and it was, and in the intervening period that never changed.

Guess I’ll cancel that preorder of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

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