Thinking about movies

It’s getting harder to spend on leisure, because I’m getting so much better at talking myself out of it. There are just so many other good alternatives.

For example: Iron Man 3 has started showing in Canada. I’ve skipped watching most movies in the theatres, but I do like superhero movies, and theatres are great for superhero movies because they make the movies larger than life. I like the outsized situations that the writers put the superheroes in and how they have to get them out. I like the way the movies push visual effects forward without taking themselves too seriously. So I’m going to watch it at some point. I just have to decide…

  • Do I watch it in the movie theatre during opening weekend, as a vote for more movies like that, maybe with W-?
  • $26 for two tickets
  • Can lead to rich in-joke material
  • Good sound and perfect playback (no worries about scratches)
  • Larger than life / immersive
  • Immediate gratification
  • Focused attention
  • Do I watch it in the movie theatre as a social event, which probably means a weekend get-together with friends?
    • $25-35, depending on dinner
    • Bonding time with friends – find out what’s going on in their lives
    • Buying tickets and organizing seating can be difficult
    • Good sound and perfect playback (no worries about scratches)
    • Larger than life / immersive
    • Short-term gratification
    • Focused attention
  • Do I watch it in the movie theatre off-peak, which probably means mid-day sometime during the week?
    • $13 by myself, or possibly with other friends who also have flexible schedules
    • Better seats
    • Good sound and perfect playback (no worries about scratches)
    • Larger than life / immersive
    • Short-term gratification
    • Focused attention
  • Do I wait for it to be available in the library, so that I can watch it with W- at home?
    • Free
    • Can lead to rich in-joke material
    • Writing time or cat time
    • Can watch with subtitles
    • Can pause and rewind
    • Can watch extended material, commentary
    • Can talk to W- while hanging out (extra in-jokes and movie references!)
    • Comfy seats, clean floor (no spilled popcorn or drinks)
    • I can read IMDB trivia and tvtropes entries or research interesting ideas

    And you know, that library option is looking pretty darn tempting. The biggest downsides are a less immersive experience and a longer wait. I don’t need big sound or big images to get into a story (I can imagine things from books). Watching musicals from closer to the stage was much better in terms of being able to see facial expressions, so there’s something for that.

    It takes a while for movies to be released on DVD, and some more time for the library to obtain copies. The DVDs are available on a catch-as-catch-can basis at various branches, and then they’re available for general holds after a year. New items are released on the 15th of every month. W- and I check the new listings on the 15th or 16th, by which time there are sometimes hundreds of holds for popular movies. For example, The Avengers (2012) has 992 holds for 107 copies. Movies can be checked out or renewed a week at a time, and transit between branches takes another day or two. That means that requesting a popular movie like the Avengers would mean a wait of maybe a year and a half from when the movie was released, which is actually not that big a deal because we’ve got a ton of other things to watch. Besides, sometimes we luck out. In this particular case, the Annette Street branch is the home branch for one of the Avengers DVD copies, so we spotted it during our regular library walk and we checked it out even before it was available for general holds. =)

    Popular movies tend to be well-stocked, and I have three branches in easy reach: Annette, Runnymede, and Jane. The Hobbit was another movie that I decided to wait for as a library release, and writing this blog post reminded me that I should go look for it. It’s not available for general release yet, but one copy is due at Runnymede tomorrow and another is due at Annette on Monday. I might bump into it one of these days. If not, I can wait for it to become available for holds on October 15. (Hmm, time to set a reminder…)

    Besides, there’s so much else to do, and so many other movies, shows, books, and games out there. We can keep ourselves endlessly entertained if we want to with just the things we have. So it really comes down to the question: what do I want?

    • I want to be delighted by and learn from storytelling.
    • I like the way that shared movies turn into great in-jokes between W- and me, layers of references building on other references.
    • It would be nice to spend time with friends, but there are other things I can do to spend time with friends.

    So probably library, then, for this and most other movies. W- says, “That’s a lot of thinking about $26.” But it’s this gradual shaping of wants and desires that creates the space for even more possibilities later.

    The less I want, the more I can enjoy.

    2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    • http://www.gwern.net/ gwern

      > For example, The Avengers (2012) has 992 holds for 107 copies.

      And then, there’s Bittorrent.

      • http://sachachua.com sachac

        There’s so much good legal content out there that I don’t need to download movies just to scratch an immediate itch. =)

        • http://www.gwern.net/ gwern

          But you’re willing to wait months or years for holds to expire and deal with the pickups and returns…?

    • http://www.trajano.net/ Archimedes Trajano

      Generally movie theater runs are more for the social experience rather than really watching a movie. There are just too many distractions (kids, cell phones, people or yourself having going to the bathroom) that may make me miss parts of the movie.

      It also keeps me up with the crowd a bit if I do go to work because people tend to discuss the movie as well. However, since I just work from home I don’t have the issue and can wait a bit longer.

      For immediate itches without dealing with legal issues try Netflix. Though I can’t really say I have used it myself, my non quite techy friends like it because it is immediate and they don’t care much about not having 1080p quality.

    • Pat Thomasson

      I think library is a good choice. The time will fly by. After a couple of weeks in the movie theater the hub bub will die down and you will forget that you were ever excited about possibly going to the theater. It almost sounds like you don’t want to go to the movie theater because you would just rather spend the time doing something else right now which is of course, just fine. Why spend money doing something you just don’t really want to do all that much?

      • http://sachachua.com sachac

        I suppose it’s not a matter of not really wanting to do that, just wanting to do other things more. In our case, W- and I get possibly more value out of watching a movie at home than watching it on the big screen, and my friends don’t have a norm of going out to movies together. =)

    • Pat Thomasson

      Oh and glad to know there is one more person out there who things about these decisions in a highly rational way.

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