Does it Spark Joy?

Film If the lock down has taught me anything (a hundred and sixty eight days folks) (the furthest I've been since March is the top of Hardman Street), it's that I'll never see every film ever made.  Having accepted that, what to do about selecting things when when you're quite happy to sit through anything and then have to choose what that anything might be?

How do I fight against, as the video above calls it, choice paralysis?

There have been strategies, oh have there been strategies.

Not watching anything with less than 70% on Rotten Tomatoes was a first attempt.  Except the corpus is so overwhelming old, white and male, there are plenty of films which they simply don't "get" which have fallen below the freshness threshold.  Noah Hawley's Lucy in the Sky currently enjoys a 21% from 123 reviews on there and it's really quite weird and extraordinary and has a brilliant understated central performance from Natalie Portman.  So that was ditched pretty swiftly.

Then there was working through various lists, but inevitably meant that I missed out on newer releases.

Eventually, I've ended up with a rather systematic approach which allows some flexibility but also stops me from flailing around trying to decided what to watch next. 

The following does look very involved and it is to the extent that you might wonder why I don't just use that time actually watching films.  But again, this is infinitely better than choice paralysis and doesn't involve "lowering your expectations" as the video upside offers as a solution, which just seems like admitting defeat.

Let's use some bullet headings.

(1)  Only films reviewed in Sight and Sound or Empire Magazine in their main review sections.  That means that in the main they'll be theatrical releases, although it leaves some flexibility for prominent streaming releases.

(1a)  Apart from anything I've bought and haven't gotten around to watching yet.

(2)  A year at a time.  At the moment, I'm working through 2020 and when that's completed it'll be 2019, things missed and rewatching anything which I'd like to see again.

(3)  Only in high definition unless there's no other choice.  This seems pretty arbitrary, but I'd rather wait to see a film in its best possible picture and sound quality, even if that's streaming than through the standard definition haze of a DVD copy gifted to it on home release, which even with upscaling-on-the-fly (and sometimes because of it) looks less than optimal on my large flatscreen television.  That's unless there's absolutely no other way, of course.  I still have some films on VHS which haven't appeared on any format since.

(4)  Does it spark joy?   This is the newest step but I'm finally taking a Marie Kondo approach to films.  For the most part this takes the form of these yes and not lists.

Yes list:
Sci-fi / Fantasy / Horror
Period piece
Set in a major metropolitan area
Features an actor I like
Made by a director I like
Female led

Not list:
About someone dying from a disease
Has death of a parent as a motivating factor
About poverty and degradation
Mental illness and disability
Mafia / gangsters

There's a lot of soul searching and honesty in there, especially the not list which as you can see is mostly about trying not to see films which are likely to swing my mood downwards.  

On the one hand this makes me seem and even feel weak and prejudicial, but on the other, in order so that I can be there for my loved one, I need to take care of myself.  Perhaps this could have simply been listed as "depressing topics" but pinning it down like this means I have to face up to the reality of choosing not to watch these kinds of film.

The last point is simply because I'm tired of watching antagonists with non-redemptive story arcs.  

Of course there are exceptions both ways.  These are just guidelines.  They're open to change.

The upshot is that more than ever, I'm having to think about the films I'm watching to the point that I've made special justification field on the database I'm using as a universal watchlist.  You knew there'd be a database.  There's always a database.  Here are the films I currently have access to which I'm intending to see before I head off back into 2019 with the reasons why:

As you can imagine, that list used to be much longer, but if I couldn't type anything in that "spark joy" box, even after it had been filtered through the yes/not lists then it went.  "Hollywood" as a keyword seems like it could be used a broad excuse for watching crap and you'd be right.

Having read that back through it does also seem a bit "extra".  But I assume that these are the kinds of mental processes most people go through when choosing a film and that all I've done is put them down on paper.  Or at least that's what I'll keep telling myself.