It seems hard to believe, but 500 Days Of Film is now a year old! Thankfully, I am well on track, having watched about 390 films so far.
This milestone has prompted me to look back over my year of film… why did I start and what have I learned?
Last May, I decided to set myself a challenge: to reconnect with film by watching 500 films in 500 days. I also wanted to get more strategic and break out of my cinematic comfort zone - life is just too short for bad movies, right?
I made a list of the most popular and critically acclaimed movies of the past five or so years. I then added some film classics and, before long, I had a list of approximately four hundred films. I started to wonder, just how long would it take to watch all of these films?
Then, the number 500 appeared in my mind. Could I watch 500 films in 500 days? I figured that it would be a challenge (factoring in holidays and the hope of a non-screen based social life), but doable.
My Journey So Far...
Whenever I tell anyone about 500 Days Of Film, I am usually asked two questions. First, what is my favourite film and, second, what have I learned?
My favourite film remains the same as it was a year ago - Jaws. However, I have now fallen in love with many other movies. For example, I adore Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Thomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In. Before 500 Days Of Film, I doubt that I would have watched either film.
Meanwhile, I have learned so much from my movie challenge.
For example, I am now obsessed with documentary film and I count many documentaries as among my very favourite films. From Errol Morris' astonishing The Thin Blue Line, to Amy (Asif Kapadia’s heartbreaking film about Amy Winehouse). From Patricio Guzmán's devastating Nostalgia For The Light to Werner Herzog’s wonderful Grizzly Man, these films have been utterly gripping and enlightening.
How I Learned To Love Subtitles
I have also learned to love subtitles thanks to my 500 Days Of Film challenge I am ashamed to admit that I used to avoid foreign language films. I worried that reading subtitles would prevent me from engaging with a film.
Nothing could be further from the truth. At home, I actually find that they anchor me to a film. I can't be checking my phone or patting my dog when I've got dialogue to read!
I recently made a list of the world cinema films I have loved since the start of 500 Days Of Film. If you would like to see this list, just click the the image above.
I have always been a huge Pixar fan. Huge. However, since the start of 500 Days Of Film, I have branched out and watched a range of animated film. For example, I now adore all things Studio Ghibli and count My Neighbour Totoro among my absolute favourite family films.
I also love the films from Irish animation studio, Cartoon Saloon. I would really recommend both Song Of The Sea and The Secret Of The Kells. Both films feature stunning animation as well as wonderful stories.
Animation is not, of course, just for kids. Many animated films tackle more adult themes. I’m thinking again of Studio Ghibli here and also the wonderful film, Chico And Rita.
Before my movie challenge started, my favourite film director was Steven Spielberg. One year on and, while Spielberg remains my favourite, I am now more aware of the work of many other brilliant directors.
For instance, I will now seek out the films of directors such as Richard Linklater, Jennifer Kent, Lynne Ramsay, Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan, Amma Asante, Gareth Evans and David Fincher. I could go on...
I am also more aware - from watching documentaries and from reading film books (yes I’m obsessed!) - of the history of film and about how films are made. Alongside actors and directors, I now appreciate the work of writers, cinematographers, editors, set and costume designers... again, I could go on!
All of this new knowledge has certainly enriched my film watching experience.
As I made my 500 Days Of Film list, I started to think about how and where I was going to watch all of my movies. Over the past year, I have viewed most of these films at home via a number of online screening services (to find out more about these services just click the image above).
I am also becoming more interested in special film events. I really enjoyed watching Raiders Of The Lost Ark accompanied by a live orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall and am looking forward to watching Jurassic Park there in November.
In addition, there are lots of other cinema events that I hope to sample soon - both indoors and out! (For more information of event cinema just click the image below).
The more films I watch, the more I become aware of exciting new cinematic releases. Since the start of my challenge, I have gone from visiting the cinema once a month to once or twice a week.
The cinema is not, of course, cheap. Full price adult tickets can cost over £11 each. What a relief it was when Odeon (my closest cinema) launched its Limitless card this year.
Limitless costs £17.99 per month. As you might imagine, I snapped up my card. For me, it just makes financial sense. However, if you are considering buying a Limitless card, there are some, well, limitations. Just click the image below to find out all that you need to know.
By far the best part of starting 500 Days Of Film has been the film conversations that my challenge has prompted.
At the start, I decided to keep a diary about my film watching experience - mainly to remind myself (I have a terrible memory!) of what I have seen and liked. As a result, I created this website and started this blog. In addition, by making my challenge public, I hoped to keep myself on track and honest. No cheating!
These people have taken an interest in what I am doing (many reading my film reviews and some actually following what I recommend!) and have suggested some brilliant movies for me to watch. There is just such a wonderful film community out there.
I have also created a little film community of my own. Four months into my challenge, I found that lots of people shared my disconnect with film and cinema in particular. As a result, I started the 500 Days Of Film cinema club.
Now, every month (and sometimes more often) this film club visits our local cinema and watches a newly released film. Films that we have seen include:
- Inside Out
- Steve Jobs
- The Danish Girl
- The Big Short
- Eye In The Sky
- Green Room
- Everybody Wants Some!!
I just love this club - it is so wonderful to meet, see a film and then have a good old chat about it afterwards!
Looking forward, I still have an exciting list of films to watch before I reach the end of my challenge.
However, in addition to this list, I have decided to mark my anniversary with a gift. I am going to watch all of Steven Spielberg's feature films! At last count, that is an impressive 28 films!
All that is left is for me to say a huge thank you to all of you who have supported me and 500 Days Of Film.
Thank you for reading my reviews and for subscribing to my newsletter. Thank you coming to cinema club screenings and for talking movies with me on Twitter or Facebook.
It is so very much appreciated.
Take care, Jane x