The COVID lockdown screwed things up royally, but it did bring little pockets of unexpected joy here and there, and if it wasn't for COVID, my best friend Jo & I would never have created Friday Film Night.
Deprived of our occasional visits to the cinema to see something relentlessly bleak and/or pretentious, we decided to take matters into our own hands. Almost every Friday night since March 2020, we've watched a film together. By together, I mean virtually - Jo lives in Edinburgh and I live in Newcastle. Our first rooky attempts to stream a film we could both watch simultaneously, using Facetime or Zoom or some such proved too technically challenging though, so we devised our own system.
We both open the film in Netflix, YouTube or MUBI and set the play head to 00:00. After we've sorted out our drinks and snacks and been to the toilet, we send a "ready" message via text. Then Jo sends a popcorn emoji which initiates a 3 second countdown to when we both press the play button.
"If I don't press start at the right moment and we end up out of sync, she goes proper mental."
During the film, we text important commentary to each other, such as: "I'm so confused - what the hell's going on?" or "I need a wee." After almost a year and a half of this routine, you'd think we'd have it down to a fine art, but there are still pitfalls to look out for, including:
One of us watching the wrong film.
One of us skipping the recap of the last episode of a series, putting us hopelessly out of sync.
Having to explain "What in the hell is that you're watching?" to someone randomly entering the room.
Sex and Violence
Over the course of the last year and a half, neither of us could be bothered to take notes, or even write down the name of the films we watched, but we promise to turn over a new leaf. In future, we'll post a review in this blog every couple of weeks based on proper notes and that. Review criteria will include whether the film shows good plot development, solid characterisation and acting - and we'll be keeping an especially close watch for random plot twists, crappy props and unecessary sex or violence (we're all for the necessary sex and violence though).
Drinks and Snacks
As a bonus, we'll not only review the film, but the quality of our drinks and snacks too.
Choosing the right drink and snack is every bit as important as the film itself. Whether it's a simple tonic water or a fancy cola, classic popcorn or salt & vinegar Quavers - a good film can be ruined if there's a snack mismatch.
We'll try to let you know a couple of weeks in advance what film we'll be watching on any given Friday, so if you've got nothing better to do on a Friday night, you can watch it as well and tell us what you think.