"Personally, I find them to be the ultimate form of immersive storytelling"UNSPLASH/@TIMOTHY EBERLY

At the end of 2021, I went to the cinema for the first time since the start of the pandemic. In the last couple of months of the year, I saw Dune, The French Dispatch, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Something about these films felt completely different — I found myself immersed, transported to another world, and my attention was utterly absorbed.

Apart from the fact that they were all brilliant films, I think this had something to do with the way I had been consuming films. Even though I’ve been a long-time cinephile, as the years went on I had been watching fewer, as the thought of sitting down to something for two hours was often intimidating — as with most of the world, my attention span had become much shorter. When I did watch a film, it would usually be while scrolling through my phone, and more often than not, broken up as I got distracted by other things. Enjoying these three films as much as I did left me feeling frustrated that I’d seemingly lost the ability to watch films properly, but also determined to more permanently recapture the enjoyment I had rediscovered by giving them my full attention.

“It genuinely changed the way I consume media”

My obsessive personality and over-ambitious nature gave me a solution: my New Year’s resolution was going to be to watch more films, kicking off the year by watching a new film every day in January. I can say now that I managed to stick to this challenge, and that it genuinely changed the way I consume media, best of all helping me regain my passion for film.

Although on busy days I couldn’t always complete it in one sitting, I managed to fit my daily film around my life, and it became a habit; sneaking one in on train rides, during lunch breaks or even first thing in the morning if that was my only chance. Posting daily updates on Instagram kept me accountable and gave me more inspiration.

As New Year’s resolutions go, this was one of the most enjoyable that I could have picked for myself. The most satisfying part was actually making my way through films that had seemed destined to sit on my watchlist forever (sidenote: said watchlist has since grown even more). Planning helped a lot, deciding what I was going to watch for the next few days — the times when I didn’t pick in advance I got caught up in deliberating and procrastinating in that familiar ‘I’m not in the mood for any of these’ way, but having films lined up meant that all I had to do was press play. I watched things from multiple genres, languages and mediums, from quirky arthouse films like 2008’s The Fall to massive blockbusters that I missed at the time like Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Endgame (2019). Variety was really key to keeping me excited about what I would watch next, and also to opening my mind to new things.


Mountain View

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January can be a bleak, monotone month, and for me this challenge was a daily escape. Some highlights included re-watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time in years (which still holds up impressively two decades after its release), and discovering some new films that rank up there with my all time favourites, like American Psycho (2000), Blade Runner (1982), and The Princess Bride (1987).

“The films have challenged me to improve my attention span in a world of sub-60 second TikToks”

Unfortunately, I knew I couldn’t keep this up forever, and the month had to come to an end, the pressures of my degree and other commitments forcing me to end my streak of daily movies. I have definitely kept the momentum going — as of writing this I’ve watched over 50 films in 2022, almost as many as I did in the whole of last year. More importantly, watching films has become an easier option for me, and something that I gravitate to more often. Recently, I’ve been re-watching old favourites which I know I enjoy, and reconnecting with them, seeing what new things I notice in them years on.

While some people may see watching cinema as a form of empty entertainment, or even procrastination, for me it is so much more. The films have challenged me to improve my attention span in a world of sub-60 second TikToks, but I also see a value in them that goes beyond almost every other form of media. Personally, I find them to be the ultimate form of immersive storytelling — the acting, music, costumes, sets, cinematography, characters, all have the power to transport me to another world in the space of a couple of hours.

I’m so happy to have reconnected with my love for film, and would encourage anyone else to make some more time in their life to watch films — check out some new releases, actually work through the watchlist you have sitting around, or curl up with an old favourite and see how it affects you this time.