One Man's Quest to Watch 1,001 Movies and Take Miami Along for the Ride

One Man's Quest to Watch 1,001 Movies and Take Miami Along for the Ride
Via Alexander Sorondo
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Alexander Sorondo likes movies. A lot. Probably more than you like almost anything in your life, at least anything that isn't related to you by blood. The 25-year-old Miami native loves movies so much that he has taken on the challenge of watching, and writing an essay about, every movie that appears in the 2012 edition of Steven Jay Schneider's 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. He calls it the "Thousand Movie Project," and he's inviting you to join him.

"My love of movies came from my dad covering my... eyes during the gruesome scenes in Terminator 2 and Predator when we were kids. The idea that there was something too illicit to see got me obsessed," Sorondo explains.

As of today, Sorondo has seen 135 of the 1,001 movies on Schneider's list. It's not all Fast and Furious and Star Wars flicks, that's for sure. Many of the films on the list were shot in black-and-white, and some are silent.

"It's hard to say what my favorite movie from the list has been so far. Maybe Blackmail (1929). I can tell you which were the worst, though. Les Vampires was pretty rough. It's seven hours long, silent, and French — which somehow matters even without sound."

If watching 1,001 films sounds impossible, it might be. If watching them alone sounds, well, lonely, it almost certainly is. But you can join Sorondo this weekend to see what it's all about. He invites others to join him in his quest to complete his bucket list when he hosts a free screening of the 1935 Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera at Tea & Poets in the Shops at Sunset Place this Saturday, June 10.

Viewing that huge number of movies seems like a big enough chore on its own, but acquiring obscure films has proven to be the bigger bitch.

"I'm making great use of the enormous free movie collection at the Miami-Dade County Public Library, at four bucks a pop," Sorondo says. "For some films that were never released on DVD, like King Vidor's The Crowd (1928), I have to spend a good deal of time and money tracking down bootlegs, sometimes from overseas."

Why would anyone go to all of this trouble? Between the hours it takes to watch 1,001 movies (some of which run as long as four modern movies in one), the effort to acquire the films, and the cost associated with an undertaking of this scope, the endeavor seems torturous. But not to Sorondo. He says he took on a challenge of enlightenment, and so far he's received exactly what he expected.

"I started watching and writing about every title on this list of 1,001 movies because I wanted a big writing project that could also involve lots of other people," he says. "The pacing for some of the older movies is slower than modern stuff, and sometimes there are confusing cultural barriers — not to mention that the first 40 were silent — but that exact challenge is part of the reason I got into this. I want to get out of my comfort zone; hear the voices of people whose differences span race, space, and time; see what the lives of others are like."

If you want to help a brother out on his quest to reach a goal, Sorondo is always accepting donations, even as little as the $4 it takes to rent a silent film from the local library, at thousandmovieproject.com. There, you can learn more about his journey, track his progress, read his essays, or mark your own movies off the list.

A Night at the Opera
8 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at Tea & Poets, 5701 Sunset Dr., South Miami. Admission is free. Visit thousandmovieproject.com or the Facebook event page.

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