I never make New Year’s resolutions. I think the beginning of a year is a pretty arbitrary marker of when to change your life, because it’s your life, and why not change it whenever you want? But that hasn’t stopped me from making a pretty simple, vague resolution this year: I want to watch more movies.
As an intern in New York without many friends this past fall, I saw more movies in three months than I ever had, from art house showings to press screenings to streaming picks. Pretty soon, I realized: What better way is there to spend two hours? Even if it wasn’t the best movie, at least I’d gotten off Twitter and immersed myself in a different world for a bit.
I know, this all sounds cheesy, so let me put it a different way. Movies have arguably never been more available to us than today (for the most part) thanks to streaming services. And I’m not just talking about old titles — these streaming services have become venues for compelling, independent storytelling as blockbusters have skewed more toward franchises. (You already know this, of course, thanks to good ol’ Marty Scorsese.) Of his decision to make the 2017 big-budget superpig movie Okja for Netflix, Bong Joon-Ho told Vulture, “Only Netflix guaranteed 100 percent approval of everything to me: the final cut and the rating.” (But if you haven’t seen Bong’s new class thriller Parasite, there’s your assignment for the week.)
Just look at Netflix’s fall 2019 slate of movies, which includes two of my top five of the year: Scorsese’s pious mob film The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s painstaking divorce drama Marriage Story. I’m hoping to find some downtime to watch Dolemite Is My Name this week too, Eddie Murphy’s comeback and passion project movie.
Which is not to say not to go to theaters! Seeing Marriage Story in a theater only amplified the experience for me, especially when I heard all of us sniffling during that final scene. This winter especially, movies like Uncut Gems (which I now live and breathe after seeing it twice) and Knives Out have succeeded theatrically as wholly original stories, plus they’re just great. I can’t wait to trek to the Music Box Theater this weekend to see Greta Gerwig’s Little Women on 35-millimeter film, especially after reading about how her mentor Steven Spielberg convinced her to do it. “He opened the camera he shot Jurassic Park with [and] had me smell celluloid,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “He said, ‘You have to shoot on film, it smells different.’”
Speaking of Gerwig, I’m also resolving to watch 52 new (to me) films directed by women this year, hopping on a challenge I saw on Twitter a few days ago. Even if Oscar may not recognize them, directors like Lulu Wang, Lorene Scafaria and Olivia Wilde executed some amazing visions last year in The Farewell, Hustlers and Booksmart. Netflix content manager Marya E. Gates has curated some great lists of the best movies by women on Netflix, Amazon, Criterion and Hulu, which I hope to reference along with supporting women in theaters (such as Kelly Reichardt, the director of First Cow, a movie I have become obsessed with after the trailer came out yesterday).
So while you still have enough free time this week, why not go see a movie? Skip your current Netflix binge one night and find a new title, or brave the cold to head to Century 12 (as if I need to remind you, you can buy a ticket for $5 and change on a Tuesday night!). I won’t even judge you if you choose to see Cats.
By the way, what is this column? Every week, I want to recommend an entertainment going-on, mostly on-campus but sometimes not, that I think you should check out. I know winter here sucks, but I also know that good theater, movies, music, performances and talks help us get through it — it’s how I’ve made it, anyway.