I’ve had to start keeping a list. If I don’t I’ll forget which movies I’ve streamed. I suspect I’m not alone in this. Electronic information is vapid and eminently forgettable. If you go see a movie in a theater, you’re likely to remember it. Memory of place and occasion aid the memory of plot and effects, I suspect. To my knowledge I’ve never had anyone ask if I’ve seen a movie that I didn’t remember, if I saw it in a theater. Streaming—maybe yes, maybe no. A few weeks back I found myself streaming a film and thinking “this looks awfully familiar.” The longer I watched the more convinced I was that I’d seen it before. When it was over I checked. I had watched it only a few months earlier.
When you buy a DVD or Blu-ray (or even a VHS tape), the physicality of it serves as a reminder. Unwrapping the package, handling the case, loading it into your player—these are all keys, hooks upon which memories hang. As I’ve intimated before, movies are, I believe, our modern mythology. The idea’s not original with me, but think about how movies are often our frame of reference around the water cooler or with friends. What did you think of Nope? It’s a safe way to express our beliefs and aspirations. Even if it’s not great, it’s helpful to be able to remember it when you want to. Streaming, it seems, often lacks commitment. Particularly if it’s from a free site. (I use such only when the media are otherwise unavailable.) Maybe there’s a reason it’s free.
Streaming asks little by way of investment, financially or psychologically. It costs time, of course, and perhaps that’s the greatest siphon of all. If you’re a busy person time is a commodity. Spending some of it watching a movie—depending on who you are—isn’t simply entertainment. Mythology gives us meaning. I suspect that’s why we value those auteurs who break through the noise and manage to stand out in our minds. Those who know what it is to captivate an audience. Those who are really invested in their projects. Like most books I read, the movies I watch come from a list. I have a reason for watching them, often related to research. And if you put the time into it, you want to remember it. For that, I recommend keeping a list. (Have a written a post like this before?)