Blogger Q&A: What’s the best way to watch a movie?
In the Blogger Q&A series, we ask our bloggers here at Flickchart to share their opinions on a movie-related question. Got something you want to ask the bloggers? Submit a question on our official Flickchart Facebook page and it could be featured in a future post!
It may be easy to stream movies to your phone, but that doesn’t make it ideal. The way you watch a movie can affect how much you like it and how high you rank it. This week our bloggers answer the seemingly simple question, “What’s the best way to watch a movie?”
David — You hear about people like Spielberg who own their own theaters and watch movies in them, alone. I think that’s the gold standard, but, unfortunately, I don’t yet have the means to make it a reality. The ideal attainable new movie experience, then, is seeing it in a half-full theater with one buddy. It should be a theater because of the infamous “big screen boost” — I tend to rank theatrical screenings at least 100 spots higher than I would if I saw them at home. It should be a half-full theater because it’s fun to hear people’s reactions as the credits roll, but a full theater is too mumbly and fidgety and cough-y. Finally, one person of your choice should be with you so that you can trade reactions and, during trailers, lean over and whisper “What a piece of crap that looks like.”
Alex — A comfortable seat; a screen big enough to keep me from seeing the theater. The size of the screen isn’t everything, so long as the space doesn’t make the screen seem tiny. A beer or a rum & coke in hand, probably; I don’t tend to prefer eating during movies, but I like a drink in hand. A friend, or two, or five near my side – though I don’t mind watching a movie alone. If I am watching with people, they’re people who won’t chat too much, but who also won’t shush their own friends. In a theater, I need an audience that isn’t laughing at the empty, offensive profanity, but one that still laughs generously when it’s earned, even in a serious or horrific movie. Lastly, after the movie is finished, I prefer people who aren’t going to insist on dissecting the performances, the scene-by-scene, the thematic network; I like to digest a film slowly, not just walk out of a theater and say “It’s about grief, right?” We can do likes/dislikes and a little more pretty quickly, but what if we just spend a little time processing while we walk toward our dinner? — Alex Christian Lovendahl
Hannah — I am an intent movie-focuser. I like to be able to pay very close attention to the movies I’m watching. Unfortunately, I’m also very easily distracted, which means that watching movies with other people is sometimes more frustrating than exciting. In the town I used to live in, there was a $3 movie theater with 13 screens that showed movies after they’d passed the regular theaters’ release window. It wasn’t at all uncommon to go to a screening and find that there were only 3 or 4 other people there. On a few especially exciting occasions, I was the only one in the room, allowing me to get the benefit of the big screen experience without audience chatter or soda slurping or popcorn munching. Now, granted, the movies I saw under these conditions were not necessarily masterpieces (the Fright Night remake is the highest one on my list), but there is no doubt that I enjoyed them much more than if I had watched them either at home by myself or in a crowded theater. That right there is the ideal movie experience for me. If it wasn’t so dang difficult to arrange, I’d prefer to see all my movies this way. — Hannah Keefer
Nigel — I’ve often maintained that I prefer watching movies at home, but if pushed, I have to admit that that is mostly for convenience’s sake: It’s hard to put a price on being able to pause the film if needed, and backtrack to a line I might have missed, as, like Hannah, I want to focus on the darn movie. Of course, at home, I’m also far more likely to be interrupted, and when I think about it, I realize that there are more than a handful of my favorite movies that I did see in a theater. Thinking back to my favorite-ever theater experiences, I come up with a few that were seen under similar circumstances: I saw my #1 movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, in the theater with my mom. Back in the day, she had also taken me to Spielberg’s Hook, one of my earlier theater memories, so those both hold a special place in my heart. The whole family saw Jurassic Park, which kept 13-year-old me completely enthralled. Then there are the movies that were just so much fun in high school because I got to go see them with a group of friends: Outbreak (my first R-rated film in a theater), Independence Day, Apollo 13 (certainly the most emotionally effective in this particular group, and the only one in my Top 20). . . and Batman Forever, which I will always hold as one of my favorite theater experiences ever. It was obviously more about the company than the film itself, which is part of why the feeling has never been truly duplicated until I saw Guardians of the Galaxy (a much better movie than Batman Forever) with a large group, and laughed my butt off for two hours. I’ve been to the theater a few times by myself (notably for Inception, which was perhaps “technically” the best way to see it: in a half-full theater, alone and able to focus on the film on a big screen with no distractions) but analyzing my theater-going habits over the past 20 years has made me realize that I know, ideally, I want to have a friend by my side, and have some fun. If the movie itself is great, that’s the icing on the cake. — Nigel Druitt
Jandy — I pretty consistently like movies I see in theaters more than movies I see at home. Despite all the complaints people level at theaters these days (cell phones, people talking, munching, etc), it’s still a much more involving and immersive experience to see something on a screen the size of a house rather than at home, even on a nice, large, flat-screen TV. Other people may be distracting, but not nearly as distracting as kids crying, the dishwasher running, people walking by or yelling outside, upstairs neighbors stomping, not to mention the internet being RIGHT THERE. Of course, one could conceivably mitigate this if you could create a private screening room in your home, but I don’t have that luxury, so the theater it is. Even then, seeing something with the right kind of audience is absolutely unbeatable. So my ideal screenings are actually rep screenings at theaters with appreciative audiences — TCM Festival is the absolute best, but plenty of other rep screenings fit the bill as well. I have lots of examples that would serve: the screening of Metropolis with the Mont Alto Orchestra that left me sitting on the floor in the theatre lobby breathless, the double feature of Sunset Boulevard and Mulholland Drive that had me so overwhelmed I just sat in my car staring into space for half an hour before I could drive – but the most recent perfect one was at this year’s TCM Fest, when the nearly-lost Colleen Moore film Why Be Good screened for an audience that was raucous in all the right ways. When everyone stood up and cheered at Moore’s takedown of her would-be suitor and his double standards, I knew I’d found my people. Those are the screenings you never forget. — Jandy Hardesty
Ben — My parents never took me and my siblings to see movies in the theater, so it wasn’t until I started going with my friends that I got the big screen experience. The first movie I saw in the theater was The Great Mouse Detective. The first live-action film was Benji the Hunted. The first non-animal-starring film was Spaceballs. After years of seeing the original Star Wars trilogy on a TV screen, even a movie spoofing it was impressive on the big screen. For most movies these days, the comforts of home do nicely (the selection is pretty good via streaming or discs, the snacks are reasonably priced, the audience observes proper decorum, the ability to pause is welcome — a necessity with small children in the house, and you can sit close enough to your HDTV to appreciate the cinematography if you like). But there are still some movie experiences worth the complicated logistics (and expense!) of arranging childcare. One of my favorite theater experiences was a sneak preview of Jurassic Park. The packed theater was totally absorbed in the movie and experienced the thrills in unison — except once. There is a tense moment in the film where a phone rings suddenly. One audience member screamed when it did, and the rest of the theater laughed uproariously. My absolute favorite theater experience was seeing Gravity in IMAX 3D. It was the closest I will ever get to being in space. The special effects, when combined with IMAX 3D projection technology, made for one unbelievably thrilling experience. For certain blockbusters and 3D films, nothing beats a packed theater on opening night. — Ben Shoemaker