Surprising things happen to people’s faces when a film really entrances them. They stop focusing on all the personality presentation we take for granted when we talk to each other: the polite eye contact, the alert expression that says “I’m listening and reacting to what you’re saying.” When people watch movies, their faces go a little slack, and their emotions come through clear and raw. I had a particularly great experience observing this back in 2007, when I had friends over to watch J.A. Bayona’s excellent horror film The Orphanage. Having already seen the film, I decided that instead of watching it, I’d watch my friends watching it. Watching other people gasp or shrivel in nervous anticipation let me see the movie freshly through their eyes.
That sense of voyeurism, that ability to see people in a vulnerable state and re-appreciate a piece of art at the same time, is at least some of the appeal behind #AllMyMovies, the social-media-ready art installation that 29-year-old actor Shia LaBeouf staged last week. For the piece, LaBeouf watched all his feature films back-to-back at New York’s Angelika Film Center over three days, while a fixed camera transmitted his reactions to the internet via live stream. #AllMyMovies is the latest in a series of LaBeouf-centered performance art pieces, and the second to widely solicit public interaction: in this case, admission to the film series was free, and anyone over 18 who was willing to submit to a weapons check could join LaBeouf in the theater, space permitting. The line to enter the screening room built steadily over the course of the event, with the wait time eventually stretching to several hours as word-of-mouth grew.