The End: Postponement due
AN UPDATE AS OF TUESDAY MARCH 31ST 2020
Three months ago I began the most ambitious film project I've ever imagined; trying to watch 365 new movies in the calendar year 2020. Based on the the events of the last few weeks and the current necessity of fulfilling the criteria to meet the spirit of the project, I have decided to suspend on work on 2020 in Cinema for this year. Today's film, #80, will mark the end of this year's endeavour.
I had high aspirations for what I would learn over watching an entire year of new work in cinemas both theoretically and literally. Theatres around the world are responsibly closing under government advisories, and theatres in Canada have been closed for two weeks now. While the hope had been to reopen them this Friday April 3rd, their closures are now indefinite, and there are no wide releases still scheduled for the next six weeks.
My original intent was to see at minimum 80% of new releases on the big screen - given the current need for theatres to remain closed, this figure isn't reasonably possible to achieve through the rest of this year.
I'm disappointed that I cannot complete the project as it was designed, but I'm not upset about the experience I had. I've seen films in over 20 cinemas in a dozen cities, multiple countries, and supporting several terrific local businesses across Ontario. I'm also not done watching movies this year - and although not all of them will be fully reviewed and catalogued on this website like the first three months, I will be continually updating my list of movies seen in the Archive for the rest of the year.
Without regular new wide releases, even relying solely on streaming services and VOD can't sustain seeing new titles daily for the expected weeks or possibly months before theatres re-open. That being said, I stand by the need for theatres to remain closed to slow the spread of the potentially fatal disease.
When I started, I wanted to look at what could be learned from seeing a full breadth of new works and stories being told in film. What was the expense going to be? What could be gained?
Even though the project is done for 2020, I did learn a handful of things:
1. There's a ton of great movies.
Some of the best films I've seen in the last 90 days are the ones I never even would have considered going to, and many are ones I had no idea even existed. It's always a gamble when going to an unheard of title, but it's also thrilling when you hit the jackpot.
2. There's an equal number of bad movies.
Just as more can be learnt from failure (more on that in a bit) there's still much to be learned from bad movies, too. Some are so astronomically bad it's laughable. Others are just relentlessly boring. But most still have some redeeming features that can be expanded upon and learned from.
3. International Cinema is Thriving!
From Peasant (Kholop) in Russia, I Lost My Body in France, Panga in India and Weathering with You in Japan - I can't believe how much fun it was seeing so many movies from countries around the world. There's some really amazing stuff once you look outside Hollywood.
4. It's hard seeing this many movies
Averaging seeing one new movie every day was a lot harder than I anticipated. It required hours of planning and travel, seeing and writing about all the films - not to mention the high cost of going to the theatre 4-7 times each week (even with discounts!). Sustaining the numbers took a lot of effort.
5. The cinema is still the best way to see film
Going out and having the experience of seeing movies with a large crowd on the big screen is still the best way to get the most of out of the cultural and artistic event. I can't tell you the difference between sitting in a full room of 300 to being in a 300 seat theatre completely alone. The need for work to be heightened based on the scale of an audience is as true and necessary today as it was when film first became a medium more than 100 years ago.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
I'm not sure yet what exactly comes next. Knowing that the flow of new releases is going to continue to slow for weeks to come means so will my regular movie watching. This website, however, will continue to be updated until the end of 2020. All new movies I see until the end of the year will be written into the Archive page of all titles.
A few weeks ago I'd publicly written online encouraging people who were healthy enough to continue visiting cinemas and other public facilities like theatres and restaurants to come to a grinding halt. While my empathy continues for these businesses, I now see the pressing need to keep them closed for the health of all people - and not just trying to minimize the urgency for those at higher risks. For this insensitivity, I am truly sorry.
There will be a time to go out and go back to the cinema. I'm looking forward to it. For now, we need to stay in our homes and distance ourselves as long as needed to keep the greatest possible number in our population healthy, and that is a collective responsibility.
As for 2020 in Cinema? My hope of finishing a year of visiting the cinema to see new work isn't dead. It is simply postponed. While the project has failed in design, it has succeeded as a test run to see what is and isn't possible, and what the true stakes and needs are to complete this in a 12-month run.
I look forward to the possibility in the future of completing it. For now, please stay home, stay healthy, and stay safe.
Finally, to anyone who has read my project, followed me along this journey, and anyone who's shared this with others, thank you. Your desire to read the story is just as exciting for me as it was to write it. For your time and encouragement, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Until the next bold attempt - please enjoy many of the titles I have seen thus far from your homes. <3