On a recent episodes of The Next Picture Show podcast critic and Solute fave Keith Phipps made a revelatory confession that outted modern movie-watching conventions with a shock not felt since the name of this feature was inspired by Sam Adams’s admonition to hungry theoretical Schindler’s List viewers (the original blog post seems to have disappeared – more entertaining anyway is the Dissolve commentariat losing its collective mind here).
During a listener feedback segment about ideal circumstances to watch the new five-hour cut of Wim Wenders’s Until the End of the World (question posed at 55:50 here). Phipps revealed that in an effort to keep up on films, he habitually watches films on an iPad while on the treadmill at the gym, pause the film when his workout is done, and finish upon returning home. Co-host Scott Tobias was aghast. Phipps for his part was unapologetic: it’s not his preferred method and he tries to avoid films with widescreen aspect ratios in these watches, but if ideal circumstances don’t present themselves any film is fair game from Bergman to First Reformed. There’s no direct audio evidence to support this, but I like to picture co-hosts Tasha Robinson and Genevieve Koski restraining the other two to prevent Tobias’s revulsion from tipping into violence.
The opportunity to not just pause, rewind, or restart movies but to carry them with us and watch them in environments other than a theater or a living room has long passed from a curious novelty to a common reality. Beloved commenter Simon DelMonte is upfront that his dispatches on films and shows often come from segmented watches often on a subway commute. His perspectives don’t seem to be terribly warped by the experience, so it’s clear that non-traditional watching strategies can still yield valuable experience.
Part of what Tobias took umbrage with was the breadth of Phipps’s workout watching. He allowed that Michael Bay’s recent Netflix movie 6 Underground would be an acceptable Gym Movie, but couldn’t come around to a critical favorite being perspiration compatible. And maybe some films require our undivided attention in the way somebody might not wish to introduce a friend to a favorite album through a car stereo or would set aside an evening to finish the final chapters of a particularly gripping book.
Much of this depends on personal preference. Which is why we must hammer the issue into a flat set of strict rules that all film goers can follow! What say you, Solutors? Is sweating to Scorsese sacrilege? Are pilates and Peckinpah punishable? Would you revel running to Renoir? Should we embrace exercise and Eisenstein? Accept aerobics with Andrea Arnold?
Are there movies that lend themselves better to out-of-pocket viewing? Or do you always seize the chance to watch regardless of the circumstances? What makes a Gym Movie?