I've been accused of wearing my "never seen many films" badge with honour. I wouldn't say I wear such a badge with honour, but it's certainly something I talk about often. It's interesting to talk about for two reasons. When talking about how few films I've seen, it's interesting to hear people tell me how much I'm missing out on. Even the most banal of film can turn into a cinematic masterpiece when people are telling me how much better than the book it is. Secondly, and more interestingly, people often say "you should definitely watch this" and then recommend the films I should watch.
The other weekend, we had a couple of friends over for an evening in, and I saw True Lies. It was honestly the first time I'd ever seen it, and by my rough counting, I think it was the 19th film I've ever seen all the way through. Yes, nineteen. It was fun; I did enjoy it.
I've no moral objection to film. I don't see it as any less an artform that literature or music. I'm sure it's a great art form, and I'm sure some of the people working in film are true masters of their art. But in the same way I have little interest in ballet, I have little interest in film; it's just not an artform I feel able to connect to.
As a kid, cinema wasn't a huge part of my life. I saw a few films as I was growing up, but going to the cinema wasn't a regular thing for me. Books were much more so. Pretty much from the moment I was able to coordinate my hands enough to hold a book, one was thrust into them by my mother. She was (and still is) obsessed with books. She has an entire room of her house full (I mean literally full, there is nothing else in the room!) of books. Stacked on shelves, on the floor and on each other. She knows where every one of them is and has her favourites in places she can easily get to them.
I can remember the first books I read - Freddy the Frog ("A curious frog is our Freddy, for when the rain starts to fall quite steady, to save himself from splishes and splashes into the lake he quickly dashes") and I remmeber Mr A. Mazing and his Amazing Monsters. I honestly can't remember the first film I saw.
This left me with an appetite for books and an ability to read books at quite a pace - once absorbed in a book I can read it at great speed whilst blocking out the world around me. But it's also left me with nothing more than apathy for cinema.
I watched the BAFTAs the other night. It was interesting, but I realised that in the past year the only film I've seen is the final Harry Potter film. I've not see Hugo, or The Artist or any of the other films featuring heavily in this year's award season... seeing the Harry Potter films is a tradition followed for reason I shalln't go into here rather than because I love the films; in truth I prefer the books!
There are so many films which I've not seen. I've not seen any of the Star Wars films. I've never seen any of the Lord Of The Rings films. I've never seen The Godfather. Nor any Hitchcock films. I've seen The Sound Of Music. I've seen This Is Spinal Tap. I've never seen a film with either Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise in.
I don't think that I'm ever going to see a film which will lead to an epiphany. I don't think any one film is ever going to leave me with a feeling inside which says "I now understand cinema". I just don't think it's something I have a connection to and don't think it's a medium which can ever move me in the way a well-written book can.
Whenever I see a film poster on the tube, there's nothing in me which says "must go and see that". If the premise from the poster looks interesting, I'm more likely to research the book the film is based on and buy that instead. It's a prejudice, I admit that, but it's a hard one to shake and I'm simply not sure the rewards are worth it.
When I used to take long haul flights regularly, I started watching quite a few films. But generally I found myself bored by halfway through and turned it off and went back to reading a book instead. I think the only film I watched all the way through on a long haul flight was "Mr Bean's Holiday" and I suspect I only stuck with that because a) it was short and b) I just wanted to see if it could possibly get any worse as it progressed.
A few months ago, we were at home and wanted to listen to a CD. Yes, one of those old things. We realised that in our living room, we don't have any way of easily playing a CD. We don't have a DVD player, nor a games console which can play CDs or DVDs. We have a Mac Mini, but that's not wired up at the moment. The best solution we could come up with was to use one of the PCs elsewhere in the house to rip the CD and then bring an MP3 player into the living room and plug that into the TV to use the speakers. Yes, we don't have a music system in the living room, either.
So what's film number 20 going to be. Well we were at friends' place on Friday night for dinner, and having pretty much this conversation. We came home with a DVD which we had been loaned. So, film number 20 is going to be "Team America". Who knows when I'll actually get around to watching it; I'm going to need to find something on which to play DVDs first!