Finishing books vs. finishing movies

Over these past few months I’ve been watching more movies than ever before, and Peter’s tweet got me thinking about movie-patience. I DNF books all the time. Movies, I almost always finish. Why is this? A couple theories:

  • Movies last a specific amount of time. Knowing that I will be done with a mediocre movie in 86 minutes makes it easier to bear. Ambiguity around the time investment works against books.
  • Movies require less attention, so I can do other things while I (kinda sorta) watch. Eating, light conversation, light internetting, intermittent texting, etc.
  • Because there are fewer produced, movies make better conversation topics. They have better cultural currency. More people are more likely to have seen or at least be familiar with a given movie. So there’s a higher social cost for not being familiar with it.
  • Movies have a better entertainment/time ratio.
  • My priorities are out of whack.
  • I am subconsciously addressing an innate human need for stories. Most of my reading is nonfiction, so I’m using cinema-fiction to make up for the lack of text-fiction.
  • Eye candy.
  • Movies involve more people, more money, more compromises, more constraints on time and budget, and thus they are less likely to have nonessential bloat. Though I can easily see this argument going the other way, too.

Other possibilities?

Trouble the Water

Trouble the Water is the second Katrina documentary I’ve seen this year. The Axe in the Attic was not nearly as good as this one. I was a bit reluctant to go because I’ve had hurricane burnout lately, but this was worth seeing. Trouble the Water starts out with some homemade videos of a stranded couple that couldn’t make it out. They were stuck in the 9th Ward. You see them getting ready, then holing up in the house, then moving to the attic when the levee breaks a few blocks away from their home and their house fills with water, then escaping to even higher ground, then finally leaving New Orleans, and coming back years later. It goes astray with some too-obvious, too-easy critiques of the political bumbling toward the end. The criticism is well-deserved, of course, but not nearly as interesting as seeing their stories unfold, seeing them meet strangers and help each other out, and how they find strength in each other and in their faith. The protagonists are pretty lovable. Go see it in your neighborhood.

Common phrases in Icelandic, a collection of videos and another cool resource I’ve found getting ready for vacation. Not too long ago, you wouldn’t be able to hear a native speaker until you got there. In the same way, when look on Flickr I can see recent photos in Reykjavik, see what folks are wearing, get a feel for the street. It’s be easy to go overboard with this pre-immersion stuff and dampen all the surprises, but it’s really cool.