Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Are We Our Own Worst Enemy?

It's not hard to champion your favorite film. Not hard at all. If anything, just the mention of it likely perks your ears, wets the tip of your tongue, and gears your brain into position for an all out cheerleading campaign on its behalf. Such is the way of passion. And what's there to be more passionate about than that one film that you feel sums up everything you could ever love about a movie?

But I often wonder if I don't do the movie some grave disservice by arguing its case so loudly. After all, with my incessant reminders, calls to viewing, and pushing, how can you ever judge the movie evenly? You can't. You're going in convinced through my advice that this movie will be a sentiment of perfection. But that's no guarantee. My favorite movie could easily become your least favorite. And it's something that's bound to happen every now and again. So by what right do I have to push this movie upon you with such assurance?

By the same token, leaving it as a simple "just watch it" feels as if I'm letting the movie down. Why would you watch a movie just because I said you should? It seems void of emotional connection, and while that may just be the very thing that helps you give the film a fair assessment, I am left wanting. Then again, I probably should be left to feel that way given it's not my opinion to force. It's my opinion to offer, but it is entirely up to you how that is received, and in turn interpreted.

So I often find myself in a bit of a mental crossroads. Everyone knows my favorite film, and favorite director. The very mention of either gets me immediately tagged on facebook, twitter, and linked in posts. So is it even possible for me to avoid the stigma of being the hard sell man on my favorite film? Probably not. But perhaps I should try. While I don't deny that I would love for everyone to see my favorite film. I'm sure everyone would love for me to see theirs. And if truth be told, that's probably not going to happen. Too many birds in the trees trying to chirp the loudest.

But this contradiction, compulsion, and insinuation isn't limited simply to favorite films. It reaches out to encompass all films we, as individuals or a collective, hold dear. This is the very reason you see so many reviewers struggle to differentiate their opinion from the opinion they've heard so often and vehemently. The conflicting inner war between personal opinion, group acceptance, and amicability. Which of course leads to the inevitable question of what exactly we expect from movies that are considered all time greats? However, that's for a different topic all together.

7 better thoughts:

The Mad Hatter said...

It's a double-edged sword to be sure. On the one hand, you could help to illustrate details that a first-time watcher might not have picked up on (such was the case when someone helped me understand 2001)...on the other hand you could stoke the expectations way too high (as I believe is the case everytime someone watches CITIZEN KANE for the first time).

I think the trick is to find the sweet spot. To whet a person's apettite without making them believe they're about to watch the Greatest. Film. Ever.

Basically it comes down to giving somone a little pink spoon instead of the whole fuckin' sundae.

Castor said...

I know you tuned me into watching all of those Kurosawa movies and I loved them all so you are definitely more right than wrong ;)

Well except for that time when you told me Bring It On: All or Nothing was the best movie of that year.

Rich said...

You know it's getting remade (again), right?

Alfred Welles said...

I say bite the bullet and champion that favourite film loud and hard. The trick is to be original isn't it?

Univarn said...

@Mad Balance is key, but I would argue it varies depending on whom your talking to - another factor in the mix.

@Castor Hey, I can't help it that you obviously have no heart :P

@Rich So I've heard. In fairness I've been hearing about that possibility for years so I don't find myself really shocked in any way. The difficulty will be in giving that remake a fair shot.

@Alfred Thanks for commenting! Being original does require some talent, but being aware of others is another trick entirely.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends upon the way in which you approach it. I think it's great that people tout their favorite film, but I think the worst is when they attack people who don't like the film. Then it becomes a problem.

My favorite film happens to be something I know a lot of people won't like just because I have a different idea of what I want out of a movie. Therefore, I don't go around trying to convince everyone who didn't like it that it's the greatest.

That being said, I am dissecting the film scene by scene, so I do love it enough to write quite extensively about it, which I don't think is a bad thing.

Fletch said...

Great points by Hatter and James. Of course, you know I harp on the word "expectations" a lot, and this subject is all about it. Hype it too much, and people expect the moon. I lean towards underselling; if they already know it's a favorite of mine, it serves no purpose to go on and on about it. The fact that it's a favorite ought to say enough right there.

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