So many movies, so little time

The Dysfunctional Williams Family began a very cool project last night—watching every movie in our iTunes account, nightly, for the next year.

Yes, that’s how many movies we have. And before you get your calculator and work out that I’ve spent a squillion dollars on movies, rest assured that many of them were bought when they were on special. Some of them anyway.

Now that slight self-justification is done with, let me explain the logic of what we’re doing. It’s occurred to me recently that with so much to watch on Netflix and Sky and Lightbox and everything else, our family has been neglecting the movies we most love (which is why we bought them). Our recent nightly family TV routine has gone something like this: debate for about an hour what we’d all be happy to watch then get so tired talking about it we just settle on Seinfeld episodes we’ve seen hundreds of times.

But no more! I’ve taken control of the remote.

For the next 367 nights, we’ll be playing our iTunes movies in alphabetical order, from around 8pm. You’re very welcome to come and join us if you like. The rules are that there is no negotiation over which movie will be played—it will always be the next one in the catalogue. That includes documentaries and concert (read, Queen) films. If anyone doesn’t want to watch, they don’t have to watch. But the movie will play regardless. Conceivably, there’ll be some nights when no one’s watching except for Beamer the dog. That’s cool too. The other rule is that when we come to series, such as Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, we’ll watch them in the order in which they were released.

Oh, and I’ll blog regularly on what we’ve (re)watched.

Last night was one of our top 5 family movies of all time … About A Boy. How convenient that the first movie in the list is also our favourite. We’ve seen it hundreds of times, and we still laugh. It’s just one of those films. It also has an incredible perspective on love—that it belongs to the community, that it’s a creative, healing and life-giving force, and that it’s best when it’s shared broadly and on behalf of others, especially those who are hurting, or who have been isolated or rejected. It’s no wonder it was a staple in my lectures when I used to teach on such things.

It was a great start to the experiment in other ways too. We’ve struggled in recent times with the dominance of smartphones and iPads in our home. Conversation has suffered. Laughter has diminished. Tempers have flared. Last night, everyone voluntarily put their devices away and we shared time and space in a way that we used to take for granted. It felt normal, but also fresh and exciting. It felt healthy. And it felt good.

Stories are vital to our mental health. Stories balance our minds. Stories give structure to our worlds. There is nothing more healthy to do as a family than to come around stories and laugh together.

Granted, we may think differently about it this time next year.

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