It's a crazy goal, but I'm aiming to see 300 films this year. I suppose that the number is somewhat arbitrary except that it's a nice, round milestone. The basic rules I'm using:
1. Films must be seen theatrically.
Although I'm keeping track of what I watch on DVD, videotape, or television, they are not included in the total.
2. Only feature-length films and shorts of a length deemed appropriate will count toward the total.
This means that I am not including five or ten-minute shorts, not that I see many of them anyway. Call it the tyranny of the feature film if you like--makers of short films are up in arms, I'm sure--but including shorts doesn't seem right. Where it gets tricky is with COWARDS BEND THE KNEE and the IMAX pictures, films that are essentially treated as features when it comes to buying a ticket but don't meet the AMPAS standard for feature classification. I've included them in my count since 45-60 minutes seems like a sufficient running time.
Another sticking point comes with films shown on and made primarily for television. I've counted SWEET OLD SONG, a PBS documentary shown on P.O.V., but excluded AKI KAURISMAKI, a documentary on the Finnish director. I'm fairly certain I saw both on projected video rather than film, so there's no difference in that regard.
All films on my list have presumably been seen on projected celluloid, although in rare cases that isn't accurate. THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED and MC5 * A TRUE TESTIMONIAL screened as projected video from beta and DVD respectively. For the former, this was true to how it was made, and it is a "legitimate" theatrical release. The MC5 film has been pulled from distribution, so a projected DVD was the only option.
You know what, if Leah Mahan's Howard Armstrong doc makes the cut, the Kaurismäki essay should too.
3. Repeat viewings of films do not count unless a viewing took place in another year.
For instance, I've seen BEFORE SUNSET twice this year. Only the first viewing counts toward the total. I saw ELF for a second time in January; however, the first time was counted on the 2003 list. The total number reflects different films seen in a calendar year, not every time I saw something in a theater.
I have kept track of my 2004 moviegoing and thought it might be interesting to break down how many films I've seen month-by-month. I've seen 194 films so far, which does not include ten films from this year that I've rewatched.
2004 totals (through August 10)
The spike in March is attributable to the Lars von Trier retrospective at the Wexner Center. That was also when I became a member, which is partially responsible for the uptick in subsequent months. Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival was held in April, so that's why the month's number is inflated.
To reach 300 I must average 25 films a month. I need to hit 200 by the end of August to stay on track, a number I should reach on Friday.
Needless to say, there's no way I'd be attempting this or capable of doing it if I weren't a film critic. I don't pay to see most of these films, and there's a significant percentage I wouldn't pay to see if I weren't reviewing them. As the goal approaches, I'll continue to update you on my quixotic quest.