When you’re a kid, wasting time is no big deal. As an adult, time becomes a precious, limited resource. A thousand things scream for my attention on a daily basis: my job, my writing, cooking, cleaning, exercise, spending time with loved ones, going to the groceries, dentist appointments, etc. Because of this wretched thing called responsibility, I’m not able to watch as many movies as I once could. Unlike reading, which you can squeeze into a lunch break or in the relaxed moments before bed, movie-watching needs to be carved out and planned in advance. You only get so much time.
What I’m trying to say is that I have less time and patience for sitting through movies I do not enjoy in any capacity. I’ll sit through something I don’t like if it’s at least interesting (ex. I dislike Stanley Donen’s Two for the Road, but its chief sin certainly isn’t that it’s boring). However, some movies really test my endurance and I find myself bailing more in recent years.
My past self would be horrified by this change in habit. My former philosophy was that finishing as many movies as possible could only be good for me, even if said movie was bad or forgettable. I would make myself complete every little thing I started, no matter how abhorrent or dull.
I now have a thirty-minute rule: if the movie isn’t grabbing me by that point, if my index finger craves the smooth surface of my smartphone just so I can check the weather even though I can hear it thundering outside, I turn the movie off. This does not happen often, but I no longer feel I have to finish every movie I put in my player.
Sometimes it lasts longer than thirty minutes, as with Arthur Penn’s 1965 cult favorite, Mickey One. I really wanted to like that movie. The noirish visuals and Kafkaesque elements are enticing enough, but something wasn’t clicking—maybe it was Warren Beatty, who I’ve come to find I’m pretty cold to as an actor. By the 70-minute point, I shut it off. The same occurred with more classical fare like Saratoga Trunk. I got an hour in, then stopped—Ingrid Bergman as a calculating southern belle should be way more entertaining than that movie makes it.
Will I ever finish these? Maybe. Mickey One I have no desire to revisit, but Saratoga Trunk I might re-pick up just because Bergman is a favorite actress of mine and I feel a bit sad not seeing everything she ever did. However, I only have so much time to watch movies—if it’s not clicking, it’s not clicking and I’d much rather rewatch something I liked (or at least found interesting) or take a chance on some other movie on my never-ending watchlist.