Making the most of this sacred tradition
Maybe it’s already one of your favorite routines…every week, or every month… How often do you have movie night at home? Who wouldn’t like it as frequently as possible? Just like a night out on the town, it’s a time-honored tradition – but a whole heck of a lot cheaper. The real fun is in making the most of it.
Whether you’re spending it with friends, your significant other or family, movie night may also be a bit of a compromise – of entirely good nature. You may have to ponder, debate and ultimately agree upon one film from an assortment of suggested prospects.
What to watch? If there’s a backlog of films for you to catch up on, choosing one shouldn’t be too hard. But if it’s hopelessly undecided, there are tools to use that help you pick one that is agreeable to all. In the days of video cassette rentals we could count on books by Roger Ebert in which he reviewed hundreds of movies. The guy was so spot-on you could pretty much bet on his recommendations. And his reviews are all online here, so if you don’t mind watching films that are four or more years old (before the time of his passing) he can still help you pick a winner.
Another great resource you can access easily is IMDB (the International Movie Database). It features reviews from critics and site users, but it is the one to ten star ratings system that has established itself as extremely reliable. With as many as nearly a million people appraising a single film you get a valid rating that truly reflects the general audience’s reaction. Any movie rated above a 7 almost promises to satisfy. When you get into the prestigious 8’s and 9’s you’re watching something of nearly indisputable quality. Of course, you may also take the recommendations of friends and acquaintances although, sadly, they are generally less reliable.
With a consistent circle of friends joining you, you essentially belong to a film club. Why not make it official? You can meet each regularly and establish themes. Maybe you want to finally watch the black and white classics you’ve heard about. Is “Sunset Blvd” really that good? Have a fun discussion afterwards and learn the consensus. Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to see certain foreign films – Fritz Lang, anyone? And of course there’s no going wrong with a Star Wars marathon! Bring your lightsabers! In the often hilarious conundrum where your core group has firm, sometimes opposing individual opinions, you may simply prefer to take turns picking the movie of the week.
Create an atmosphere! Luckily, movie night is forgiving, you don’t need a perfectly clean home to enjoy yourselves, BUT you will encourage repeat visits if you prepare a bit for your guests. Just do what you can to make them as comfortable as possible, and don’t dare have them over without ensuring an ample supply of toilet paper. If you can manage a clean bathroom, you’re a hero. If you appreciate their company, show them! It can be as easy as clearing off the tables and couch, making blankets available, and providing additional seating if necessary. Some etiquette experts might suggest giving up your favorite seat for a guest, but that’s where I draw the line. Much like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory I believe it is okay to be possessive of your “spot”. If people need to make due on the floor, just give ‘em all the cushions and pillows they need to be comfy.
Of course what experience is NOT enriched by food and drink?! Choose your poisons – junk food and soda, or a good meal? Of course there’s nothing wrong with sticking with the old standby – popcorn! In the case of a romantic evening, perhaps a cheese plate and a bottle of Merlot is the ticket. If you have a large group, I’d recommend wine and pasta while watching The Godfather, or shakes and burgers during Pulp Fiction. What fun meal tie-ins can you think of?
Since we’ve discussed logistics in a general sense, let’s talk the most important detail – the position of the screen. Check for potential glare that may inhibit anyone’s view, and ensure that no one’s aspect is obstructed. Who can be cozy when they need to stretch their neck unnaturally trying to see the film? Find the best angle that is the most satisfactory compromise for all. And if you suffer from a small screen TV, why not use a projector? Any plain white wall will do for a screen, or even a flat hung sheet.
You may even consider expanding the fun that has already been established. What if you were to incorporate pre or post show rituals? Before the movie you can set up some tidbit for people to look for, a trivia question of sorts. For instance, see who can spot certain cameos or references in the movies you watched. And when the film is over, don’t rustle everyone out in a hurry, discuss it! That’s really the fun part. Serve coffee and start the discussion, “What did you think?” “What did that mean?” See whether the film gets collective thumbs up or…
Whether it’s Citizen Kane or Adam Sandler, the time spent with friends always makes it a worthwhile evening – regardless of the quality of the movie!