Back in January, a Twitter acquaintance (#Bond_age_ regular @campbelldropout) and I were discussing an idea for a project that would encourage people to finally tackle those movies that they regret not having seen. He had come up with a list of 12 movies that he planned to watch in 2014. Ones that he’d always wanted to see, but for one reason or another just hadn’t. It was an idea I’d considered around in the past. I just hadn’t come up with a way to make the venture more community-oriented… until he showed me his list. After exchanging a few tweets we came up with the idea of CinemaShame, a support group for cinephiles with latent guilt. Here’s the blurb from the About page at cinemashame.wordpress.com:
Everyone’s got those movies that they regret not having seen. They tear at the very being of the movie fan, the movie aficionado, the cinephile. Should our friends find out, we’d be labeled frauds, outcasts.
Some movie watcher, you are.
How have you not seen [insert movie title here]?
Everyone’s heard these exclamations at one point or another, so much so that we probably clutch these secrets so close to our chest it hurts. No one will ever know. But we know. And it eats away at us every time we respond in a Twitter thread or Facebook post with a vague, understated comment that suggests we’ve seen the film in question, without ever committing one slice of concrete knowledge.
Only the penitent movie watcher will pass, will rest easy at night, will finally, after all these years, watch The Deer Hunter without shame and without the judgment of self-righteous others.
Join the penitent men and women who are writing their confessionals in the form of 12-movie lists. Watch one per month and then submit a blog entry about the experience. Write about why you chose the movie, why it was important for you to finally watch it, write about your expectations and how that shaped your viewing.
The project immediately gained quite a bit of interest on Twitter, with 19 people now having submitted their own Statements of Shame — their list of 12 movies they plan to watch. So far it’s been a lot of fun, a virtual watercooler for classic movies. Even if you don’t have any desire to contribute, skim some of the posts on the website, maybe even chat up some of our contributors about their selections.
To describe some of my own impetus for starting the project, here’s the post I wrote to describe my own seeds of CinemaShame:
I meant to post an origin story (they’re all the rage after all) about the beginnings of CinemaShame but the whole project took off before I could toss this out there. Better late-ish than never. Sometime in high school (1995-ish) when I became obsessed with haunting video stores, my parents bought me a book called THE ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY GUIDE TO THE GREATEST MOVIES EVER MADE. It had just been published in 1994 and was the most up-to-date guide on movies I’d ever seen. The lists contained within were broken down by genre: Drama, Comedy, Action, Sci-Fi, Western, etc. It even contains an awesomely nostalgic time-capsule section on the best Laserdisc releases.
Anyway, as I went through the book I marked the movies I’d seen and immediately set forth watching every movie counted off in the book. Suffice to say, twenty years later, dog-earned and falling apart at the binding, the book remains a constant around my TV. I’m still marking off movies I’m just seeing for the first time. A few months ago, I began wondering how I could encourage myself to tackle those films I hadn’t yet watched when the notion of crossing another movie off the list hadn’t yet compelled me. I’d tossed about the idea of live tweeting the movies but the rigors of #Bond_age_ made that impossible. Then when @campbelldropout offhand mentioned his 12-film list on Twitter, I had a EUREKA! moment and the ensuing conversation begat CinemaShame.
In compiling my list of 12, I consulted the EW Guide for a few picks. I looked at the movies I already owned for some others. Perhaps the best aspect of this book is that the lists aren’t routine regurgitation. They contain some surprise entries among the hard-and-fast staples. This might be the result of it being compiled pre-Internet and free from widespread public ridicule. Whatever the reason for it’s longevity, this book has guided my movie watching for as long as I can remember, and I feel like I owed it this fleeting moment of fame.
Here’s a sampling of how the book ranks the most listed films by our Penitent Moviewatchers:
Citizen Kane – #1 Drama
Gone With the Wind – #2 Drama
The Godfather / The Godfather: Part II – #3 Drama
Casablanca – #4 Drama
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – #11 Drama
Raging Bull – #22 Drama
It’s A Wonderful Life – #27 Drama
Taxi Driver – #35 Drama
Comedy, et al.
Dr. Strangelove – #11 Comedy
Enter the Dragon – #27 Action
The Wild Bunch – #9 Western
Rio Bravo – #12 Western
North By Northwest – #10 Mystery/Suspense
Psycho – #1 Sci-Fi/Horror
Close Encounters of the Third Kind – #4 Sci-Fi/Horror
2001 – #10 Sci-Fi/Horror
Blade Runner – #50 Sci-Fi/Horror
Dracula (1931) – #51 Sci-Fi/Horror
Singin’ in the Rain – #3 Musical
…the only thing I really don’t like is the way the book handles the “foreign” category… just an arbitrary grouping of everything that’s not in English…
The 400 Blows – #48 Foreign
Rashomon – #61 Foreign
La Dolce Vita – #71 Foreign
Breathless – #75 Foreign
The Apartment – #51 Laserdisc (Ha!)