Whenever you see me, assume I’m looking forward to a movie. I am mentally healthier when anticipating a movie’s release. Whether that is cringe or relatable, it’s a childhood habit I have no intention of kicking. It’s to the point where I feel a comforting thrill when I smell the Studio Park hand soap. I felt this phenomenon keenly in high school during stressful times like standardized testing or exams. I remember erasing one of my No. 2 Ticonderoga pencil bullets during an ACT thinking, wow, I can’t wait to watch How To Train Your Dragon 2 after this. Life hack: if you want to enhance your moviegoing experience, dredge the murky lake of your brain in a three hour American College Testing session and then go to the theater.

Most people look forward to a movie for a week; try giving yourself the gift of looking forward to them for months or years (Robert Eggers’s Nosferatu, anyone?). During a difficult spring last year, I sat at my desk daydreaming through the window about what the new Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny could be. Currently, I’m anticipating the rusty orange and blue of George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and the saturated red and yellow of Yorgos Lanthimos’s Kinds of Kindness. Looking forward to a movie can be just as fun as watching the movie—before you watch it, it can be anything. By seeing just a poster or a trailer, your mind fills in the gaps and creates a sizzle reel of your Personal Greatest Movie. I’ve even done the embarrassing ritual of avoiding all trailers for a film (this called for closing my eyes and plugging my ears in a theater). I accomplished the “nearly zero frames seen” challenge for the release of The Last Jedi and Dune: Part Two. I recommend doing it! Try it for Sonic the Hedgehog 3

Movies have also become a fun way of categorizing seasons of my life. For example, I worked at Camp Roger, a summer camp in Rockford, for many summers and paired the summers with movies. Here are my arbitrary Rules: 

  1. The movies can change at any time if it feels right
  2. They have to be sequels that correspond to the number of summers I worked there (e.g. third summer, third movie in a series)
  3. No franchise/series repeats 

My first summer in 2016 was The Fellowship of the Ring because it felt like I was Sam walking away from his home and bonding with friends before the inevitable breaking of the fellowship. My second summer in 2017 was The Bourne Supremacy because it was a very solid sequel and I often undervalue it until I revisit it. 2018 was probably Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because I changed roles (similar to Hagrid), directions (similar to the series), and held a new appreciation for seasons of life (as the movie illustrates). Often, I view 2019 as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol because it was super solid and revitalized how I experienced camp. But, on other days, my fourth summer is Toy Story 4 because I had to say goodbye to working and living with some close friends. 2020’s summer is a bit of a doozy for a few reasons: I got to share the job of Head Counselor with my sister, it was the first covid summer, and there just aren’t as many fifth movies in a series. After some perseverance, I’ve landed on Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey because it is technically the fifth entry in the Predator franchise and it embodies a striking tonal shift in the series. Set in 1719, it focuses on a lone warrior of the Comanche Nation and pares the series down to tomahawks and muskets. Getting to see the Predator series from a new, simpler perspective reminds me of how covid rewired my view of summer camp. And sometimes covid felt like you were being hunted by a hulking invisible monster. 

I owe a debt to how movies help bring some entertaining escapism and metaphor into my life. I’m grateful to have an evergreen hobby and I’m comforted knowing that there are others like me out there to munch popcorn with.


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