Chronicling the 80s - November

Do you remember when I was going to take the most popular 80’s movies from Letterboxd and watch them “all” this calendar year of 2018? I do. I also remember failing at it, quite badly.

It started out well enough, even with a bit of misstep. I watched a couple of films that I thought were on the list but weren’t, then quickly jumping in with an incredible film in Nausicaa. My optimism for the project remained high, as I cherry picked films, popped that popcorn and took in movies week after week. I believe – without doing any check here – that I was on track to watch eight or nine of these eighties films every month, which would put me on track to complete the full 180 titles. Yes, I was cheating a bit by giving myself a head start in checking off movies I had seen previously but that just meant the list could be larger and more robust with 180 entries instead of something more attainable, like 90.

You may even recall the notion of a monthly post providing a quick review of each title. It would serve as a mechanism to present more content on the site, and personally, help me back into writing on a more frequent basis. Perhaps the first catalyst for failure happened here.

I watched Cannibal Holocaust and discussed it with my friends. I spoke to the spectacle of such horror and how I never would have taken this film in if it wasn’t for this project. When it came time to write one or two sentences on the film, I became stuck. Glued to the keyboard without the ability to press any keys and when a sentence did form, I erased it without trepidation. There was no way to sum up this film in the way I could the others, and that didn’t sit well with me. Putting the article on pause, I continued the eighties project and all of a sudden, I was months behind in my work.

The second catalyst came in the form of the first two Halloween sequels. I had seen the original Halloween years ago, but figured I could rewatch that, then take on the sequels. Within a short few weeks, I was deep into the entire franchise, watching everything available. The eighties movies took a backseat as I fell back in love with the systematic process of going through a series just as I had done previous with Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The third catalyst are the movies themselves, and specifically one thing about them: their damn long runtimes. Granted, this is not true for all of them, but a select few require three, if not more, hours to take in. And I can tell, by looking at their synopses, that these aren’t your modern lengthy blockbuster movie; no, these are three and a half hour long dramas. Sprawling epics, perhaps. Being terrified of a long run time has put me face to face with just how much I have trained and spoiled myself with “short” films (I’m looking at you, horror genre). A while back I tried to sit down to watch The Godfather (I have seen it before, nearly twenty years ago, but not the sequels) and couldn’t make it past twenty minutes. There’s something to be said for your state of mind to take in a long film, so what does it say that my mind has never reached that state in years?

I fear for my mental wellness.

In the not-too-distant back of my mind, I had an inkling that I wouldn’t be able to sit through these long films which in turn seeds my ability, or desire, to continue with the project. In the face of failure, I felt the weight of it all coming down on me, and as I do with everything else, my mind turned it off to run away. Was it a grand project? Is watching 90 movies from a list that difficult? Averaging nearly two hundreds films a year, I would surely be able to squeeze these in.

It seems like there would be a lesson to be learned here but I’m not smart enough to express them to you eloquently. I know the truth: there is no more inherent value in watching these movies from a list that I created myself than just telling people that the list exists in the first place. Or even telling people that I’ve watched a certain number of movies within a year. I have nothing of value to add to the conversation: there is nothing insightful I can tell you in two sentences about Cannibal Holocaust than you would be able to derive on your own through cursory searching of the movie on any search engine. With the perceived notion that I have nothing of value to offer, I extend eternally my writer’s block and maintain the resonant note of failure that lingers in my mind whenever it turns to the website.

There is one thing that helps me along to not lose sight: this is the Chronicles, right? From the beginning I knew the value was more in my experience than with my opinions. Occasionally, it takes a while to remind myself of this. All that being said, I can just offer up one hope: that I will keep trying.