Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Illustration: Andy Orin

One of the best habits I developed during the pandemic was what I call “four movie special.” Time for four movie special! I say, in my head, every Friday night.

Four movie special IS the weekend. Four movie special is an attainable goal. Four movie special is what separates the weekend from the same-but-drearier weekdays.

Can you guess what four movie special is? Have you unraveled the mystery?

Four movie special is this: watching four movies every weekend. This is how you do it: you watch four movies over the weekend.

It started as a game to see how many movies I could watch every weekend, trying to get the high score. But four became the standard goal — an exceptional amount of movie-watching in normal times but a normal amount in exceptional times.

Obviously — and this should be excruciatingly obvious — I’m speaking from a place of privilege in which my primary concern during the strictest lockdown of the pandemic was simply to stay put, indoors. I work on the internet, I’ve no kids, and all I had to do was not go outside. That involved the challenge of killing time. Whittling time down like a hunk of spare wood into a spoon, sliver by sliver. Time spoon!

You know takes a lot of time? Movies! You know what I love? Movies! Take your timespoon and have a dollop of film!

Weekdays just aren’t conducive to movie-watching, in my experience, because my attention span during the week is generally shot from the workday. I can’t stare at something for a solid two hours without checking the news to see if the planet exploded, and that kind of ruins the movie for me. So I only watch movies on the weekend. Four of them!

Quattro film speciali! Fantastico!

I count Friday night as the weekend. A movie on Friday, a movie on Saturday afternoon, a movie on Saturday night, and then a movie on Sunday.

Feels like something has been accomplished when you accomplish the four movie special.

Sometimes only one on Saturday, sometimes two on Sunday; four movie special is a goal, not a mandate. Now that the pandemic in New York is less awful than it was (though the viral trends are not moving in a good direction) I do in fact leave my apartment on the weekends to look at trees and buildings various things you can see outside — which can inhibit the four movie special. But any number of movies is good. Occasionally I achieve five movie special. Cinco peliculas, mis amigos!

All manner of movies are fair game, but I just happened to subscribe to Criterion Channel in February this year just before the virus really took over the world. It’s such a reprieve from contemporaneous reality and I highly recommend it. I watch plenty of new stuff too, on Netflix and HBO (Maximum) and Amazon and Hulu, but usually at least two of my weekly four movie special selections are on Criterion. Even if you aren’t versed in ‘classic’ films you can just check out what’s recommended and curated and spend a couple of hours in 1970s France or wherever. I’ve been going through all the Akira Kurosawa movies I never heard of. In October there was a glut of 70s horror movies. (Movies come and go like any streaming service, so it might not have a specific title if you’re looking for something famous.) So many movies!

Feels great when you can spend time watching them. Four of them! Even three is a lot of movies. That’s my whole life hack here: watch some movies. Movies!

I have watched a lot of movies.