Sunday, March 27, 2011

Movie opinions

About a week before the Oscars, I started a post on movie opinions. Basically, several of my coworkers and I had been sitting around a conference room, filing, and the talk turned to the Oscars. Someone asked me what I wanted to win, and I explained that I thought Winter's Bone was the best film of the year, but I was rooting for The Social Network over The King's Speech. One of the other girls piped up and said she really liked the King's Speech; she thought it was stirring and feel-good. I said something to the effect that I liked Colin Firth's performance, but that I thought the script was uneven and one of the weaker parts of the film and that I didn't like how it glossed over some historical aspects of the story. To which she said something like; "Oh. Well, I really liked it."

And I instantly felt awful.

I hadn't meant to demean her response to the film, or suggest that someone's opinion on a movie only matters if you can break down the various elements in it. I had just gotten into the habit of debating films with a lot of other cinephiles. I'm used to discussing movies with talkative people with a lot of strong opinions. Or rather, with other people who love to debate. And yes, those debates can occasionally turn heated, but for the most part, film people really like talking about film. Getting into the nitty gritty and hashing it out.

Take, for example, the fact that Sherlock Holmes came up at dinner the other night. I really couldn't get into it; one of the other people there really enjoyed it. We talked about Guy Ritchie's other films. We were all able to agree that Rachel McAdams was weirdly anachronistic in it. And we talked about how it really didn't need to be called "Sherlock Holmes" (which led us onto how the same was true for the latest Robin Hood or... hmm. There was another film that used a story/legend but then had no real ties to the source material. It'll come to me. Ed update: I remember - the new trailer for the Three Musketeers. More explosions than one would expect in an Alexandre Dumas adaptation.)

Anyways. Point being - my dinner companions weren't offended by the fact that I disliked a movie that they had enjoyed. No one came away upset or slighted. We had a great discussion about movies that touched on a lot of different points.

But I think there's a real difference when I start talking movies with non-movie folk/more casual theater-goers.

What reminded me of this topic (and spurred me to finish my post) was an essay at Observations on Film Art entitled, "Pleased to Meet You. What's the Greatest Movie Ever Made?" I particularly liked this bit; "people who know a great deal about any subject are likely to seem condescending to people who don’t, even if that is not their intention." Obviously, I'm no expert. I didn't take film theory and I don't study movies for a living. But I'm passionate enough about the topic that if I (stupidly, without thinking) launch into talking about the scriptwriting in the King's Speech, I come off completely condescending, even though I really was just trying to talk about the movie. Carry the conversation forward, and so forth.

I'd hate for something like "What's your favorite movie?" to be a conversation stopper. One of the great things about film is that it is such a universally inclusive topic (we always get around to "recent films we've seen" at our family holidays.) I just wish I better knew how to direct my enthusiasm so that talking with a casual-viewer led to more discussion, not awkwardness.

*le sigh*

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