It’s a real problem, isn’t it? How to keep up with what you’ve watched, when you watched it, what you thought about it, if the film included your favorite actors, directors, cinematographers, etc. I’ve tried several different ways to keep up with all the movies I’ve seen and want to see. And what have I found in 50+ years of watching movies?
This is the first way I did it: I scoured the newspapers and cut out every single movie I wanted to see (whether I was old enough to see it or not). This first kind of ad shown above was okay, but they generally weren’t the ads that appeared during a film’s first week. I preferred the big ads:
Yeah, now we’re talkin’! I’d cut those ads out and paste them into a notebook that I’d look at over and over and over. If I did happen to see any of the movies in my notebook, I’d put a check by it. I literally cut and pasted all kinds of movie ads into that notebook (even the ones I wasn’t supposed to).
Unfortunately that notebook is now long gone… So as I got older, I started collecting ticket stubs for the movies I went to see, but I lost more than I kept. Also, by that time there were so many great movies on cable TV, I needed a better way to keep track of them. For awhile I wrote them down in various notebooks, but nothing very organized.
In college, while hanging around other people who loved movies, I started keeping a list of movies I wanted to see. I also read through the entirety of Steven H. Scheuer’s Movies on TV and Videocassette. (The picture is of an updated edition, which I still use frequently.) I would mark the movies I’d already seen and…
…I came up with several pages (like this one) of three-and-a-half and four-star movies I wanted to see. When I saw one, I’d mark through it and write the date I watched it. I still have these pages and, as you can see, they contain movies I still haven’t crossed off. (I know, it’s criminal that I still haven’t seen Cries and Whispers or the Olivier version of Hamlet. Hey, that’s why I still have the list!)
My friend J.N. gave me a book last year that I absolutely love, Film Listography: Your Life in Movie Lists, which is a lot of fun, but it can’t include everything.
So now I have two methods. I still keep a notebook with short notes on everything I watch. I mainly use this at the library when a customer asks what I’ve seen lately that I can recommend. It gives me an “elevator pitch” for them, just the basics. I also have these movies on this blog as well as what is probably the best way to keep up with movies online:
Letterboxd is a wonderful site and if you’re not using it, you really should. It’s part social media and part movie database. I love it and am currently trying to take everything I know I’ve seen and record it in my Letterbox account. (You can see my profile here.) Not only can you record your movie diary of films you’ve watched, you can also list movies you want to watch, make lists, review movies, and so much more. Right now I’m only up to about 800 movies. I know I’ve seen thousands in my lifetime, and while I know I’ll never have an accurate list of them, I’m hoping I’ll get close.
(I also keep a spreadsheet of movies I want to see as well as who recommended them so that I can either thank or blame them!)
So how do you keep up with your movies? Please share.