August 19, 2020
In last week’s column I talked about how drive-in theaters are making a comeback in the era of COVID-19. If drive-ins aren’t your thing, here are a few other ways to enjoy the movies during quarantine:
You and a friend (or group of friends) arrange a time in which you will all press play on the same movie. As the movie plays through, you all text each other.
Send memes. Send GIFs. Send audio recordings. Send videos. Drink, eat, and dance. It’s a watch party. Sort of.
Everyone is on Zoom, including the film. I don’t fully understand the appeal of this one. But people are doing it and enjoying it. I don’t understand how the audio aspect works and, if I’m being honest, I don’t love the idea of my face streaming live while I engage with a movie that’s designed to trigger emotions.
This is the classic. As best put on display in Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally, the Phone Watch is when there’s a movie (or TV show or sporting event) that you and someone you’re talking to on the phone are both watching. From my experiences, your attention is mostly on the phone conversation, but here and there you both react to something on the TV. The point is, you and your friend(s) on the phone have one more shared level of connection than you otherwise would. In summer 2020, that’s practically intimate.
While the three above approaches often result in, at best, experiences akin to a DVD commentary track, my heart remains with the post-game approach of “Roundtable Watching.” This is when you and a friend (or friends) all watch the same movie then get on a Zoom call and discuss the movie. This approach works best if you all watch the film right before the Zoom call, but doing so is not mandatory. So basically a regular old Zoom hang with friends, but framed within the context of a specific film that everyone involved has watched recently. Roundtable Watching is easily my favorite of the options discussed in this column.
My movie trip to indianapolis
And now, before this week’s column concludes, a quick cinephile-friendly story related to this week’s column.
One of my all-time favorite memories is that of a Saturday in the late spring 2011 when three friends and I drove to Indianapolis to watch Terrence Malick’s just-released epic, The Tree of Life. Fort Wayne wasn’t getting the movie for a few weeks, and my crew and I had been obsessing over it for months, watching the trailer on a loop.
In the nine years since The Tree of Life was released, I’ve referred to it as many things, including “the best film of the decade,” “the best film so-far of this century,” “a tone poem that’s not for everyone,” “my favorite movie ever, tied with Taxi Driver and 2001,” “the only movie that’s about everything,” and, not kidding, “the best movie ever made.” It’s a film a lot of people feel very strongly about, and this particular group of friends were those exact people.
As mind-expanding and emotionally satisfying as my initial viewing of that film was, it’s the memory of the car ride home that I love the most. At first we were quiet as we crept back towards Fort Wayne. Shell-shocked, maybe. The movie had taken us over. Then, slowly, the conversation started. Our shared emotional dialogue about the film helped the two-hour trek home pass like night. We were all so in love with art and life during that conversation.
Can something like my The Tree of Life experience be achieved using any of the above social viewing methods? Who am I to say no?
Give it a try. Then hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how it went.
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