Some Movies Are Best Watched 5 Minutes at a Time

Introducing the Sarah Hagi Method

Woman enjoying good romcom serial in the evening. Single African American lady sitting alone at home...
Cinephiles rise up

There are so many movies and TV shows to keep up these days, it can be hard to feel like you have your finger on the pulse of culture while still managing to live a rich and fulfilling life. And yet, I manage it. Awed by my power, friends sometimes ask how I have the time to consume all the media I do and no, it’s not because I am lonely and lead a meaningless existence. It’s all thanks to one special trick I adopted, one that makes watching anything very long or somewhat boring more enjoyable. Watch a movie over the course of months rather than in one sitting.

I discovered this technique while trying to watch Alita: Battle Angel, a mega blockbuster that came out in 2019 and has not been spoken of since. The film itself is too overwhelming, and I was only able to watch the first 45 minutes before turning it off to scroll through Twitter and fall asleep.

I thought that was the end of my Alita: Battle Angel experience, but the next morning I found myself looking for something to watch while eating lunch (boiled egg) and thought, may as well see what Alita does next. Surprisingly, I found I really enjoyed watching five minutes of this movie while eating an egg. So, for the next two months or so, I watched Alita: Battle Angel whenever I had a few minutes to kill, and I loved it. Crucially, knowing I could put it on while making a sandwich or waiting for a friend to pick me up meant I could spend those minutes watching something instead of trying to decide what to watch.

I have since done this with Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a film that is a whopping four hours long. Again, this method is not for retaining information or being able to discuss what actually happens in a film — but as a way to enjoy something on the most basic level imaginable. Having something move and make sounds in front of you while relaxing.

The genius of my system was made absolutely clear to me recently, after deciding it was finally time to watch Avatar. I had never seen the film, nor did I know what it was about — in fact, I thought it was about people in a computer and was shocked to learn it took place in space. In any case, Avatar was really fun to watch for about 25 solid minutes until it started making me feel ill and unsettled — I don’t like the way Zoe Saldana’s character moves or speaks. Every aspect of this film has become less physically repulsive to me after prolonged exposure.

So, since May, I have been watching Avatar in small increments. My friends and coworkers will ask me if I am still watching Avatar and I tell them yes. They then ask me what’s happening and I truly have no idea what has happened or how much time I have left. I keep thinking, surely there are only twenty minutes left of this movie and somehow I still have fifty minutes left.

I’m a lot less grossed out by the world of Avatar. I have no idea what anyone’s name is, what the people are, what their planet is called, or the message the movie is sending (is colonization bad or is it sometimes good?) but through exposing myself to it once in a while for short bursts, I’ve found myself having a really good time with it. This way of viewing movies is perfect for when you have no desire to understand and absorb anything but a quick vibe. What more could you possibly want?