Lost Girls & Love Hotels or how I spent an entire 365 days of my life watching movies
Ok, so here’s the deal. It’s a little more than 365 days but 365 days sounds cooler. It amounts to a whole fuckin’ year. And a year from your life of 24 years seems a lot…at first. However, I’ve probably spent 10 years sleeping, 3 years eating and another year tying my shoelaces so now it doesn’t seem that much, huh? Especially if you think about it. Human life doesn’t consist of some grandiose deeds all day long. What else are you gonna do? When people get amazed that you spend so much time watching movies, what do they think you oughta do? Be a lion-tamer? Learn the old Babylonian language? Save a nation? Start a religion? Human life consists of pretty boring routines. You sleep, eat, work, get some entertainment and those are the full days I’m talking about. Sometimes there’s just sleep. If you’re unlucky.
I’ve grown up on films. It was my escape.
Movies are sorta the only type of art that I like and can consume.
Lost Girls & Love Hotels is a movie that has been on my watchlist for over a decade now. It never got made. But there are lots of other films on my watchlist that never got made so why did I decide to put this one on the headline? Is there a mythical connection? Maybe I love the to-be director? Is it an arthouse? Maybe something connected with my childhood? Or relationships? Breakups? Love? NO — It just sounds cool. And here, right here is the quintessence of my relationship with movies. I have a no-bullshit attitude. I despise movies that take themselves too seriously or people who boast about “understanding” some Czech arthouse. Growing up on movies like Gladiator, Terminator 2, Pulp Fiction and Godfather you kinda learn to appreciate the dialogues and the script. Well..there was a little detour when I was 14 or smth and watched the Antichrist, got introduced to auteur cinema a little but overall it’s been a cohesive ride of solid, bold, self-aware films. I can like a movie just because it’s a blast and has zero artistic value and dislike one that although is a classic of art-cinema, has zero script. Script is everything to me.
Now, that I’m done breaking down the headline of this article we may just as well jump into learning how I accumulated a year of watching movies.
They say I didn’t like the TV when I was a kid. But then one day there’s was Gladiator on screen and I kinda got hooked. I’ve probably seen that movie 200 times and one time in Spanish just for the heck of it. I figured I know it by heart so I might learn some Spanish as well by seeing it. There was one day I remember so clearly, I was at my friend’s house and her grandma asked me why I liked Gladiator so much and I told her I liked Commodus, the guy’s a wreck and it’s not his fault. His father was at fault. He didn’t receive recognition and love from his father and it made him act out. I was 8. She looked at me bewildered. Like how can this kid dig so deep into an action movie? And yeah..how? But later I would divide people by their choice between Gladiator and Braveheart. The ones that choose Gladiator are my type of people.
Side Note: I’ve seen Braveheart when I was 17 and it didn’t impress me. This made me think — every movie has this perfect age you should watch at if you wanna get the full experience.
14 years is not okay to watch AntiChrist, it’s too soon.
17 years is not okay to watch Braveheart, it’s too late.
The first movie I saw in the cinema was Terminator 3 in 2003. Terminator 2 was my favorite by that time. I saw the second one before I saw the first one and tbh that’s a better experience. Second is a freaking marvel. It took me a long time to learn that Arnold Shwartzenneger is not a good actor. This kind of thing sticks to you, you know. You get attached and you imagine things that aren’t real. Like me thinking Tom Hardy was a good actor. A mirage shrouded by previous awesome experiences. It makes you blind. Anyways, our local cinema became my favorite hangout place after that. I’ve seen movies alone there so many times I can’t even count. The first row, seat 13 was MINE. If we went with a group everybody knew that seat was mine. I even discovered a breach in the system. If you went to the movies 10–15 minutes late, you could sneak inside from this behind door and nobody would notice. I didn’t do it because I didn’t have money but rather just for fun. Liked the thrill of it I guess. I’d go and sit in the first row because I figured they won’t suspect someone sitting in the most exposed place. Discovered it with my friend and kept it as a secret for years. Then we kinda grew out of it and introduced the secret to some other friends. Eventually, the breach was covered and they closed the behind door. So no more fun for us.
2007 was the year I watched the most movies. In spring we made this contest with my friend on who’ll manage to see the most films in a month. I think I saw 110. It was April 2007. We weren’t sleeping or eating. Day started at 2 pm and the marathon ended at 9 am every day when we couldn’t hold our eyes open anymore. There was a DVD-rental store on my street and I basically took out and watched all of it. Those were in Russian. Some with crappy translation. I can remember the smell of the discs and that even though it was financially smart to take out one DVD that had 8 movies cramped up in it, I used to take one-by-one. One DVD, One Movie. They looked better and some of them had English as an option. Halfway through I didn’t even pay the guy. They all knew me down there and were giving me the DVDs just for the heck of it. It was the time I reluctantly took Sweeney Todd starring Johnny Depp and to my astonishment loved every minute of it. Later, I would consider it the only Johnny Depp movie that I like..Johnny..in it. He was phenomenal. I remember how popular he was during the 2000s. Everybody had a notebook with Jack Sparrow on it. And I was standing there, alone, disliking the character and having no one to confide in as everybody thought he was fucking awesome.
2008 was a turning point. I started watching movies in English and English only. God bless torrents and good, old-fashioned thepiratebay.org. Jesus, to this day I remember that a downloadable file must have been 4.37GB for you to be sure of its quality. I’ve recorded them on DVDs and kept as a collection. Old Penelope Cruz movies, Brad Pitt, Tarantino Collection. I think I owe it to films for my English more than any class, lesson, teacher or anything else for that matter. I don’t know grammar. For the love of god if you asked me I couldn’t tell you the rules on Present Continous or Idioms. But my English is close to native. I just know it. And there’s no better way to learn a language than watching films. It’s a free ticket.
Meaning vs Entertainment:
Let’s be honest. There are 2 camps: people who like movies for their entertainment value and the ones who always like to see a “meaning” behind it. I’ve been to both camps and to be honest, entertainment beats the hell out of everything. That’s why movies were created in the first place. To be fun. Arthouse is smth I digest in ridiculous amounts but don’t like. If you’d ask me, I’d choose Mad Max over any Woody Allen or Federico Fellini movies. Any day. Dogville is THE ONLY movie from the auteur camp that I like. And boy do I like it. It sounds pathetic but the movie changed me and my attitude towards everything. It was 2013, June 5th or 6th. I learned I was arrogant. I learned to call people on their bullshit, not to give 2nd chances. Drop the alien attitude and grow the fuck up. I learned not to justify rapists and serial killers by their bad childhood. Yeah, that might be the reason behind their actions but what is done — is done. I learned Commodus was a bad guy after all. It’s phenomenal, it took me 10 years to figure that out and I was a fuckin’ adult by then. It was a revelation.
There’s a new Tarantino Movie coming up in a couple of days starring Dicaprio and Pitt. It’s a homage to Hollywood. It’s about the changing times. The end of the Golden Era of Hollywood. The end of 60s. This shit happens all the time. Fathers and Sons. First there was a transition from silent films to talkies and a lot of people lost their jobs. Then a transition to color films. Then came in visual effects, 90s with first 3D movies and now Netflix is grabbing 110 Emmy’s in one year and a buncha Golden Globes. Aiming at Oscars. This is the era of streaming services. Cinemas can’t compete anymore. NYC is the only place I visited that doesn’t have cinemas cramped up in Shopping Malls. There’s the actual theatre experience. But is that needed anymore? No. Netflix changed the game this year by introducing Bandersnatch which although by nature and script is dogshit, is a great advancement in you-decide-the-fate type of cinema. It has various outcomes and you have to choose and decide what course of action it will take. It’s not a BRAND NEW INFORMATION but it’s being popularized now. People are hungry for a new experience, they wanna be in the movie, inside it and this is as close as it gets. Next will come the VR movies, AR will take a rise and soon enough the line between reality and fiction will be distorted. It’s ok. My dad always says they don’t make any more good movies but at the end of every year, I present him with at least 10 good films to watch. The thing is that they still make the same amount of good movies per year, say 30. It has always been 30. The percentage has changed but the number value remained. They used to make 1,000 movies per year and 30 were good and recognized. Now it’s 10,000 per year but the good ones still remain at 30. Percentage, baby.
I’ve had this paradoxical relationship with reviews. When I was just starting, ripe blood, young, you know, I despised them. Was too arrogant and thought they ruin the experience. That no one can tell me whether to like or dislike a movie. I thought everybody has different taste so I can see for myself. But when you pass the 1000 movie mark and see that there are probably 400 that weren’t worth the time, you kinda reconsider. Then came a part where I was looking for the right kind of reviews, that wouldn’t give out the content, the plot. Smth that will show me the after-watch feeling you get but couldn’t find any for a long time..until I found Jeremy Jahns, a youtube vlogger/reviewer who has the same no-bullshit attitude. If he doesn’t like smth, he’ll tell you about it, even if it’s Revenant starring DiCaprio or Dunkirk by Nolan. He doesn’t care about popularity, he just loves movies.
I clearly remember the day I wrote my first & long review. It was for Denis Villeneuve's Arrival. A movie I was anticipating so much. I was frustrated. And the words just kept pouring out. It was long and angry. Lots of people ask if I’m doing this for money or if I’d like to do this for money. The short answer is — No. Not now anyways. When you take money for smth, it becomes commercial, biased. And I like to have the freedom to dump shit on a movie I don’t like even if it’s critically and socially acclaimed and vice-versa.