Cinephile Interview II: Andy Watches Movies

Andy Staats launched his blog, Andy Watches Movies, this past January; since then, he has accumulated a number of followers that seems to grow each passing second. His goal to watch (300) movies before 2012 ends is a movie in and of itself. Will he make it? Will he not? How close will he come? I’ve been wondering for months, quite honestly. Visit his blog and relinquish that suspense.

This interview was conducted between November 26th and December 18th.

Your blog has documented your goal to watch 300 movies in 2012. This consists of a roundup each month, as well as clarifying how you saw the film (i.e. Netflix Instant, at theaters, Blu-Ray). Some have said you’re the most avid blogger they follow. You’re very close to your goal of 300 movies, while some other blogs are celebrating their biennial with Post #100. May I ask: How do you find time to do all this?

“Most avid blogger”? Wow, that’s quite a statement. Time is probably the hardest thing for me to come by but I actually haven’t had to go too far out of my way to stay on track for my goal of 300. I love movies – I love watching them and I love writing and reading about them. Watching them has become the easiest task for me, since I started my site, the time needed to post and read other sites has been the daunting task. Just this past week, I got behind in reading all the blogs I follow and my inbox has over 800 messages, all from blog posts. Still, I make it a point to read as much as I can because it inspires me.

As for finding the time for movies, I find it relaxing to come home from work and flip on a movie. Even though my time is limited and shared with my other hobbies, I’ve always made time for movies.

What are some of your other hobbies (if you don’t mind my asking)?

Video games and bicycling are my other two main passions. It’s tough to decide between playing video games or watching a movie – every night it’s a struggle (laughs)

Ah, now I can see why you would watch Indie Game, a film I hadn’t heard of prior to reading your review.

You’ve stated that if you’re not entertained by a film from the start, you usually just give up on it before it’s over. What would you do if you ended up seeing such an awful movie in theaters?

Oh yeah, that little documentary had been on my radar for quite some time. Even without being a gamer, it’s a very interesting and well-made documentary. I’d highly recommend it.

I don’t turn off a lot of movies, especially this year with my goal of 300, but I have no problem shelving something until I’m in the right mood for it or shelving it permanently if it is awful. This usually occurs when no money has been directly spent to watch the film – i.e. I’m streaming it from Netflix or borrowed from a friend. If I had directly spent money on it, be it in a theater or a regular rental, I would be more inclined to suffer through it. It’s more a matter of principle than anything else, but I’m pretty selective when it comes to the theater anyway, so it hasn’t really been an issue… yet.

When you do go to the theater, do you prefer to go with friends or by yourself?

It really depends on the movie. Obviously, I see most movies with my wife and we (mostly) have the same opinions about things, but if she won’t see a movie with me I go by myself. In my younger years I would dread having to go to a movie alone, but now I don’t really care. I’ve found that it helps me define my thoughts on a film much better to go alone, actually.

The exception to the ‘going to movies alone’ rule is for comedies. I love seeing comedies with as many people around as possible. It really helps make the film better, in my experience.

NOTE: The next few questions contain massive spoilers regarding the film Rosemary’s Baby.

You mentioned on your review of Rosemary’s Baby that your wife “REALLY wanted them to show the baby [at the end] and I didn’t really understand why.” First of all, your wife may be the only person on the planet who agrees with me. You explain that it “adds to the ambiguity”…how so?

Well, there are two things to keep in mind about Rosemary’s Baby. One, it was released in 1968, I believe, and special effects were not exactly great for things like that. Secondly, Roman Polanski didn’t realize he could deviate from the novel and while I haven’t read it, that may be part of the source material.

However, I like the mystery it adds because we don’t really know if Rosemary has been going crazy or if these things are really happening. There’s a lot to suggest that, yes, that all happened, but the film stops short of proving anything. I think that gives the film’s ending a nice little push right at the last second.

I agree, special effects were almost nonexistent in 1968, but the scene featured what is basically a “demonic baby shower,” where everyone’s celebrating and seeing the baby. On one hand, we as the viewers are sided with Rosemary, so it’s good we’re the only ones who DON’T join in the “Hail Satan” ritual. On the other hand, do we really need the suggestion of “is she or isn’t she insane” to reappear after we’ve already discovered that the child is the son of Satan?

NOTE: No more spoilers from here on out.

While we’re speaking about Rosemary’s Baby, I had a thought the other day that that film and The Omen serve as two consequential pieces. In Rosemary’s Baby, Rosemary is experiencing horrific pregnancy complications, before finally realizing that she has born the “son of Satan.” In The Omen, a man discovers he is raising the “son of Satan” and goes more in-depth with clues behind it. If there were a film released to bridge the gap between the two, would you be curious?

I see your point but I don’t think seeing the baby, demonic or not, would really serve as any major point of closure for me.

Well, maybe… I guess the gap would be knowingly raising the spawn of Satan? It doesn’t necessarily sound like a movie I would be interested in but if it was handled by someone that didn’t normally make horror movies, it could be interesting. Subject matter like this can easily get out of the hands of the people working on it and become either silly or gross for no real reason.

“silly or gross for no real reason”

Oh but there is a reason! These subpar horror filmmakers, they know their films will be lucrative because the audience (adolescents) NEVER looks at what the critics are saying! So why NOT make it silly or gross? (grins)

Anyway, off the Rosemary’s Baby topic (laughs). Have you ever watched a critically acclaimed film, but felt that excessive violence/profanities was getting in your way of enjoying it?

No, never. I have never been bothered by violence or profanity in movies. I know Martin Scorsese gets a couple knocks against him for some of his best work because of the language and violence but I relish it. I’m more bothered by sloppy writing rather than profane writing.

We’re in agreement that Martin Scorsese is a great director. In fact, I’m actually about to watch one of his films (The Color of Money). I know your favorite movie is by Martin Scorsese, and that’s GoodFellas. Hard to argue with that one, as it’s such a great, hardboiled crime film. I’ve heard one thing about it, though, that just confuses me. There seems to be a unanimous agreement that it runs on much longer than it should. Would you agree with this statement, and if not, could you understand why that’s such a common complaint?

I’ve definitely heard the complaint used about Casino (which is just shy of 3 hours) but Goodfellas doesn’t feel like it’s nearly 2 1/2 hours long to me, if anything it feels like a lean 90 minute film. Maybe that’s just because I love it so much. When it comes to Goodfellas I’m kind of immune to looking at it unbiased, so I would even have a hard time pointing to specific scenes that I think would cause people to start looking at their watches. Obviously I love Goodfellas the way it is and I guess I don’t really understand the complaint but maybe I’m more tolerant to lengthier films. I know some people get antsy after 2 hours regardless of the film.

What’s the longest film you remember seeing?

The director’s cut of Das Boot is 209 minutes and I think that’s the winner. Apparently, the uncut version of the film (at 293 minutes) exists but I really don’t know when/if I will get to that…

We are now on our final question, a complete tangent from anything previously asked:

Do you own any movies you’ve ever thought of actually burning, or (better yet) tossing in a shredder/landfill?

Actually, yes. Fairly recently, too.

I have an addiction to buying blu-rays from the Criterion Collection. I saw a great deal for a film called Moment of Truth and picked it up as a blind buy. I knew the film was about a torero/matador, but that was about it. When I put the film in I was watching, I was happy…then the bull fighting began and it was actual bull fighting. You see all the blood and the hurt in the animal’s eyes. I’m no vegetarian or anything, but I have no patience for viewing things like that. Immediately turned the film off and briefly thought about keeping it for my collection before realizing I would cringe every time I saw it on my shelf.

I returned it since I couldn’t bear to throw away a precious Criterion.

You can find Andy on Twitter @WatchesMovies

Be sure to check out his recent reviews of Love Actually, King Kong (1933), Elf, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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22 thoughts on “Cinephile Interview II: Andy Watches Movies

  1. **CONTAINS SPOILERS** I’m so glad we agree about Rosemary’s Baby, Cinemaniac! After it ended my immediate thought was, “Seriously, I waited all this time and don’t even get to see the baby?!” Maybe I’m being overly critical because I didn’t want to see Ruth Gordon as a villain…
    I can say it’s been a fun year watching (or falling asleep to) many new movies and I’m so proud of Andy. Here’s to 2013!

    • ***SPOILERS***

      Yess!! The one person who DOES agree with me discovers my blog! haha I just don’t see how not showing the baby was “suspense” or anything. The movie was perturbing and showed a lot anyway. Rosemary saw the baby, so why couldn’t the audience? Just seemed like a baby shower I wasn’t invited to. 😦

      I was half-surprised, half-not all that surprised to find that Andy had reached his goal, but even if he was a few titles off, that’s very impressive. Has he disclosed what his new goal is? You’d know before anyone else. πŸ˜‰ I suggested clearing the filmographies of 10 prestigious directors…

      I assume you’re just as much a film fan as Andy is?

  2. I would have to agree with the avid blogger comment. You are by far the most active blogger I follow. I get almost 2 posts a day from you. I wouldn’t be surprised you’ve seen double the 300 movies you goaled this year!

    I’m curious about your statement, ” I have never been bothered by violence or profanity in movies.” I like a good challenge!
    Have you ever seen Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975), Cannibal Holocaust (1980), Men Behind the Sun (1988) or Philosophy Of A Knife (2008)?

    Fascinating interview!

    • Actually, violence to animals bothers me, as noted in the final q&a…but the only film with human violence that I considered turning off was Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible. The others bother me but I make it through them – although I haven’t seen Men Behind the Sun or Philosophy of a Knife…

      • Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto”, have you seen that? Of course it’s nowhere as controversial as the ones Mark named (particularly Cannibal Holocaust), and I haven’t seen it (quite yet) to attest for certain, but I’ve heard it’s very violent, and considering the subject matter, I’d assume there’d be a few scenes in the mix with violence to animals.

        Just as long as Mongo’s moment in Blazing Saddles didn’t make you tear up, I respect your affection toward animals. I’m that way for dogs in particular, so much that I turned off Halloween when I first watched it, because Michael Myers had just slaughtered a dog. 😦

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