Thursday, November 17, 2011

And They Shall Call Him "Film Buff"


I still remember it like it was only a day ago. We were at a party with some family friends, sitting around the kitchen counter talking to the parental units about the usual things. You know how high school was going, what were we thinking about for college, why were we not upstairs playing video games and staying out of the way of the adults. When suddenly one of them turned to me and said "Ryan, come here." I obliged, as I'm so inclined to do. My first thought was that I was in trouble or was about to be asked some stupid question about some random pop culture icon I was only vaugely aware of.

As I got closer I realized they were talking about movies. Fair enough, but I still didn't see what that had to do with me. But all the same the three women looked at me and just said "What's that movie with Richard Gere and that guy where he's got a double personality thing?" It didn't take me long to muster up a response, and so I quite simply delivered "Primal Fear with Edward Norton." "That's it" they responded with some enthusiasm, and I took pride in knowing that I could be of help to whatever series of events had led them onto that topic.

It was what followed that struck my memory chords so profoundly. "That Ryan, I swear he's seen every movie ever made. He's our resident film buff." Now I want you to take a moment. If you were to imagine me as I appear today you might not think much of it, but at the time that would have been akin to saying I was the star quarterback or a prodigal musician. I had seen a fair number of movies, but "every movie ever made" and "film buff" just didn't fit my daily schedule. Even if you strip the former of its hyperbolic nature, I wouldn't have even cracked the surface.

If you were to say "M*A*S*H fanatic" or "Dragon Ball Z buff" I would understand. After all, those were the shows I watched back then and that was about all I watched. In fact the only reason I knew Primal Fear was the answer was because it was on HBO in the two hours leading up to the party and I decided I'd kill some time by watching it. A fact I tried to point out to the trio but by then I had once again been relegated to 'kid who should be upstairs playing video games instead of down here with the adults.'

But "film buff" was not the self image I had. Mind you, this was before Kurosawa, Wilder, and Hitchcock had invaded my life. Movies were a second tier thought to me, ranking behind the afore mentioned shows and an unhealthy addiction to Harvest Moon 64. If I did watch a movie it was likely whatever mindless action film was on television at the time. I never bothered to commit any of them to memory, and most are still just one pile of a jumbled mess in my head today. They were food, taken in and released out in equal measure. I felt no need to hold onto them, and therefore being asked questions about them was an alien feeling.

Over time things changed, and perhaps in small part to that singular event, I began to journey into the world of film. Being called a film buff, or simply being a "go to" guy for movie related questions, became commonplace. Yet I still like to look back and wonder what impact that had on me. If deep down I started feeling an obligation to know more about movies because it was expected of me. Even if at the time I had no idea why.

6 better thoughts:

Alex said...

Aw this is sort of sweet. I'm sort of equally embarrassed and proud of being that person my friends turn to when they have a pop culture (usually movie-related) question. On the one hand it shows that we're sort of obsessive, but on the other hand our love of movies is being put to good use!

It even helped name my friend's sister's son years ago. She called me up and was like "Alex! What's Gwen Stefani's husband's name?!" I said, "Gavin Rossdale? Lead singer of Bush?" And she's like "Ah yes Gavin, that's it! Don't tell anyone but that's what Lorraine's going to name her baby." AND THE REST IS HISTORY.

Mette said...

Funny anecdote. People usually come and ask me about film titles or actors' names because I'm good at remembering them, especially movie titles that I haven't seen yet. So if anyone talks about Martin Scorcese, I'm able to list a bunch of his films, even though I've only seen one. Yeah. I don't know if I'm a film buff yet. I feel like one, but I don't feel I've seen enough films to call myself film buff.

Pete said...

In the same boat. Also a special skill I have is to watch the first few seconds of a trailer and be able to tell you what film it is. Ever get that? what's really annoying is when you're watching a film and a familiar but obscure face pops up and the people around me expect me to know what film they've been in. TOO MUCH PRESSURE!!!!

Andy Buckle said...

I'm also often asked by my friends about film titles and trivia and such. The staff at work refer customers to me because I am the 'film expert' apparently. Then the pressure is on to choose a film for customers.

A group of my friends used to attend a weekly trivia and would call me sometimes asking for help with the film questions. I'd usually know the answer. Then they'd ask if I'd seen it. Sometimes I hadn't. "Then how did you know?" "I just do." They found it amusing, and probably a little weird.

Great post though Ryan. It is interesting to reflect. Sometimes if you're young and aren't sure what you want to do, you feel like you have a natural ability because of how your family and peers react to unique knowledge and skill. Still, to be considered a film buff is a pretty cool thing. As George is Seinfeld said once - "I've always wanted to be a buff!"

Scott Lawlor said...

What a great story.

I really hate being put on the spot like that as I have the worst memory ever and can't remember what I had for breakfast let alone a film I have seen months previous!

That doesn't stop them from asking....LOL It is almost a test...

Thanks for sharing

Aziza said...

I loved the post! Sometimes that happens to me as well, I seem to be the only one who remembers movie titles or actor names, although I have not really dived into the film culture that much- just scratching the surface!

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