Sunday, September 13, 2009

Movie Watching Efficiency

I have been overwhelmed lately with too much to do and too little time to do it in. Or so I thought...

I haven't been very efficient lately in many aspects of my life. When I do get free time, I tend to squander it away instead of using it to be productive. This has interfered with my movie watching lately, Netflix being the main culprit. I have many movies to watch (but don't we all). I have borrowed DVDs, DVDs I have purchased but haven't seen, DVDs given to me as presents, taped movies from TCM (recent and old) and rented Netflix movies. This is in addition to great classic films being shown at local repertory houses and the occassional interesting contemporary film at my local first-run or second-run theater.

Since Netflix is a paid service, I make priority to watch those films first and return them as quickly as I can to get the most out of my money. However, this interferes with me viewing my stash of DVDs and tapes. As soon as I finish of the 3 Netflix movies, I already have 3 more waiting for me. Since I know that the other films can wait, Netflix rentals get first dibs on my free time.

What ends up happening is that I borrow a film from a friend and return it to them months later because I never get a chance. Poor Frank, my fellow employee and classic film enthusiast, is still waiting for his Criterion Collection DVD boxed set of Amarcord (1973) back after lending it to me months ago. Or that tape of Jean Harlow films I taped off TCM months ago, collects dust in my entertainment center. The real shame is all those wonderful rare Norma Shearer films my friend Jonas (of All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! fame) sent me from Sweden are sitting nicely in their sleeves, just waiting for me to watch them.

At first I wanted to discontinue Netflix once I got through the 30-40 films on my queue, but since I keep on adding films to the queue, I don't see an end any time soon. So I have formed a plan to help me be more efficient in my movie watching.

For every 1 Netflix movie I watch, I have to follow it up with 1 borrowed movie and 1 taped movie/owned DVD. I won't be taking full advantage of the rental service but at least I will be making a dent in my collection of movies. If push comes to shove, I might go on a different rental plan with Netflix so that I don't feel overwhelmed.

Do any of you have methods to maintain the efficiency of your movie consumption? Doesn't that last question make movie watching sound terribly trite? Thoughts?


  1. That sounds like a good plan! I do the same thing with Netflix; I always feel obligated to watch those first since I'm paying for them. Lately I've been trying to watch one movie every night to catch up on all the ones I haven't seen yet.

    Glad you're going to be blogging more often now!! (or at least so I gathered from your last twitter post? -- I hope!!)

  2. I wish I could offer you some advice as to how to make your movie viewing more efficient, but I have exactly the same problem. I have movies I have either bought or recorded months ago that I have not watched yet. It doesn't help that, like both you and Kate, I tend to watch the movies I get on NetFlix first and my queue is enormously large.

    Anyhow, it is good to see you're back to blogging (or so I gathered from your tweet). I like the new look for the blog!

  3. I get my flicks from the public library. That method doesn't work so well for those in smaller cities, but NYC & Boston have fairly extensive networks. You can request DVDs from the online catalog & have them sent to your local branch. Best is to develop a cycle in which you simply drop off the old ones when you pick up the new ones. If you don't get around to watching them--big deal, they were free.

  4. You never would think that watching movies can get to be a chore, but sometimes even the biggest movie fan can face burnout.

    I have 490 movies in my Netflix queue and am on the 5 at a time plan. I usually go through 5 a week.

    My DVR is usually filled with movies from TCM. I have several Joan Blondell films from last week I have yet to get to.

    I get review copies of DVDs for review on my site, and those are usually the priority for me. I spent the weekend catching up on those.

    Plus, I have countless films I've bought over the years that I have never gotten around to. Those $3 DVDs at Big Lots are rather dangerous. They stack up and I never seem to get around to them.

    So, I completely understand what you are saying.

  5. I think this is a universal problem for movie lovers. The upside, I figure, is that we'll never run out of great things to watch. :)

    We have a Netflix plan which is just one at a time, and I upgraded to two at a time just during summer vacation the last two years. For the most part the Netflix queue is used by my children, including for older TV series we don't own on DVD or for newer movies that are worth seeing but which I don't feel a need to own.

    Sticking with the 1 or 2 at a time Netflix plan is easier on our budget, plus it ensures that we also make constant progress on watching our own DVDs and videos. (I have hundreds of movies recorded from TCM on video.) In addition to our own collection, we regularly borrow from my dad's large collection.

    My system for my own viewing? It's completely random (grin). I do try to regularly watch movies borrowed from my dad, to make sure my "borrowed" shelves don't overflow and to keep them circulating back to him on a regular basis. But I tend to choose based on the type of movie I'm in the mood to see, and sometimes partially based on running time if I only have a certain amount of time free.

    The biggest thing for me in the last few years has been simply to watch more movies, period, and have a goal to watch for the year. During the time frame of about a decade when I was very busy having babies and young children, I only saw 60 new-to-me titles in ten years. Gulp! Once my children got older and more independent -- and became movie fans themselves! -- I was able to resume regular movie watching.

    I started out a few years ago with a goal of simply seeing a movie a week that year. I know it doesn't sound like much but I saw almost as many movies that year as I'd seen in the previous decade! The next year my goal was two movies a week. This year I am up to a goal of four movies a week which I should make. That's probably about as much as I can swing for the time being, what with being self-employed and homeschooling, but it feels great to see movies on such a regular basis once more.

    In order to up my movie consumption, I have had to give up my preference for watching a movie in one sitting -- I sometimes fit in movies in as little as 20-30 minutes at a time if I'm having a busy period with work, but at least that way within 3 or 4 days I've see one more movie, then I can usually see more on weekends. If I think a certain title, like a suspense film, will play better in one sitting then I save it for the weekend.

    Regularly blogging about my viewing has also provided an incentive to keep watching frequently, along, of course, with my sheer love of movies.

    I find that the more I watch, the more I want to watch! :)

    Fun subject! Looking forward to seeing more movie posts as you are able --

    Best wishes,

  6. I downgraded my Netflix plan to one at a time, from three, for exactly that reason: to gain back some time in the week. Like everyone else, I felt obligated to watch my Netflix rentals as quickly as possible cuz I was paying for them. Now, with only a single film at a time, I always have a couple nights free while they movie is being mailed back and the next one sent. Works out much better for me.

  7. The movie overload problem has haunted me for years. I'm afraid I haven't got any bright ideas as to how to combat it, but at least you can see from the comments that you're not alone!

  8. Kate Gabrielle - Yes I'm trying to blog more now. I know you don't like summer either. Don't you feel like your brain is zapped in the blazing heat? I know I do.

    Mercurie - My queue was big too and I chopped it down to essentials. Thanks for the compliment!

    CrayolaThief - I think because I have so much access to movies already that I would only use the library to find a rare VHS tape or something. I live in the Boston-area so there is access to a lot of great movies here.

    Laura - I admire your efficiency. You keep up with your blogging very regularly and I like the fact that you review pretty much every movie you watch. 4 movies a week seems pretty reasonable to me, considering I watch 2 on any given Sunday. Thanks for stopping by!

    Laura & DKoren - I think I might switch to 1 at a time. Thanks for that!

    KC - Thanks! I'm glad I'm not alone in this.

  9. I'm with you. Since I started university, I've watched only post-1980 movies in the commons (with the exception of Breakfast at Tiffany's and some bits of my favorites) I miss Judy, Cary, Fred, Ginger, etc... :(

    I've halted my Netflix since I started, but I go home in two weeks and hope to catch up then. If you do find a good method, lemme know, huh? :)

  10. That sounds like a good plan. I have your exact same problem -- in terms of movie consumption, Netflix is taking over my life. There's always a movie that "needs to be returned" so I can get the next, and so on. I have over 100 movies in my queue and the list keeps growing, which leaves no time for all the TCM movies on my DVR, etc.

    Lately I've been consciously telling myself that I don't NEED to watch every Netflix DVD in a timely fashion, even though it's costing me money -- after all, it's somewhat of a cheap service. So far this plan is (kind of) working. ;)

    Anyway, great post! Can't wait to hear how you liked "Amarcord" (it is on my must-watch list).

  11. Hi Raquelle: I came across your blog by accident. Really like it and I can sure sympathize with this post.

    I don't think there are any hard and fast solutions. I look forward to winter because I get a lot of viewing done then. Watching the piles go down helps get me through the long, long winter.

    Some TCM titles, unless they are rare Columbias we've been seeing of late, go unrecorded on the assumption they will show up again.

    It's odd, but as much as I love movies, if I have free time and I watch an evening watching two or three movies, I'm glad to watch them but am a tad unsatisfied.

    But if I have a busy schedule and during say, a three-day period, I'm able to work in only one 65 minute "B" mystery movie I taped off TCM. I feel like I've accomplished a lot. Can't quite figure that out.

  12. I don't have Netflix, but I always seem to buy/acquire movies and not get around to watching them for months, occasionally even years. My priority is usually whatever's on TCM or similar, because I don't know when it'll be on again, whereas I can watch my DVDs any time I like. Which frequently turns out to be no time at all.

  13. I know how you feel! NetFlix has held me up from watching bought DVDs. It becomes addictive. I think I'm going to dial back to 2 at a time, myself. Or even 1 at a time. At least until I catch up on watching my backlog of DVR and DVD content!


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