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SaltWire Selects: Weekend picks
What you need to know about COVID-19: August 14, 2020
I am excited for Saturdays again!
Even though the days are starting to blend together as we all stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic, I know I have something to look forward to every week — hanging out with my friends.
But wait? Isn’t that forbidden during this bizarre, self-isolating, don’t leave your house time? Physically yes, but thanks to technology, we’re making the most of otherwise mentally and emotionally crushing circumstances.
Every Saturday, my friends get together via Facebook Messenger and watch a movie on Netflix, with everyone hitting play at the same time (we use the film clapper board emoji to signify start time), as we laugh, chat and share in the experience together.
Normally I get annoyed when people talk or text during movies, but I’m totally OK with this. That’s because this is about so much more than just the movie, it’s about feeling connected to each other despite being apart.
It has also inserted a little bit of routine into an otherwise nebulous, “what day is it again?” time.
Book club, but movies
Things began easily enough, ‘hey, you guys want to watch a movie all at once?’ which evolved into an ill-conceived/constantly changing voting on a movie system, where people would use emojis to select their preferred choices.
Remember how painful that experience was during the Blockbuster days?
We eventually settled on each person picking their preferred movie one at a time, so nobody gets disappointed.
The Matrix started things off, with all of its incredible martial arts, flying bullets and mind-bending plot. It was so comforting that whenever Keanu Reeves said one of his iconic lines on-screen, such as the elegantly put “whoa,” I would see all of my friends instantly chime in with their own ”whoa.” It’s silly but so lovely to see everyone reacting to the same thing in real-time.
What I’ve noticed from our selections so far is that people are really craving safe, nostalgic choices. This is just what’s needed during this dark time.
After we took the red pill (that’s a film reference, not a political meme reference, don’t worry), we went back even further in time with Matilda, which was very heartwarming, despite the disgusting chocolate cake scene - if you know, you know.
The following weekend was dark comedy The Cable Guy and after that the hilarious Hot Fuzz.
We’re also keeping track of everything we’re watching via a Google Doc: the date we watched the film, the title, those who watched it, what we generally rated it and a few thoughts.
The point of the whole thing is not necessarily about the film itself, but the shared experience. Being with the people you miss, albeit virtually, and being part of a shared experience. It’s so natural, so human.
And some of these folks aren’t just across town, several of them are messaging all the way from Vancouver, so it doubles as a great way to stay in touch with folks who you are always physically distant from anyways.
Even when this pandemic is over, I think this weekly movie tradition is going to stick.
How to set up a movie night:
Want to give this a try?
• First, message your friends or family via Facebook or text and see if they’d be interested in trying this out. This might be a lot for some people right now who are going through a tough time, so don’t be discouraged if some people can’t right now.
• See which streaming service most people have (don’t be afraid to share your Netflix login if you have to). With money being tight for many, going with the most used platform makes sense. Free trials can also help.
• Establish a system for who chooses the movie each week. Should it be by vote? A different person each time? Will this be weekly? Monthly?
• Once a movie is selected, keep the chat open and go to town. “wow, I forgot about this scene,” “I love that song,” etc.
• When it’s wrapped up, have a discussion and set up the next session.
A new player enters
Quibi is the latest streaming platform to enter the Streaming Wars and its mantra is very mobile-centric.
The service focuses on quick-hit content including scripted dramas and reality shows, broken down into 10-minute chapters. There are big names attached and the company is making a big push to get lots of users quickly, with a 90-day free trial ($6.99/month with ads after that, and $9.99/month ad-free).
One aspect unique to the platform is you can watch content vertically or horizontally, switching between the two aspect ratios pretty seamlessly. Part of the fun is seeing how the filmmakers (or app developers, I don’t really know how it works) have framed each shot for vertical and horizontal viewing. It’s kind of magical to behold.