Movies as a Hobby

Would you look at that? Yet another social media platform by which for me to share my wise thoughts. I registered for this so that I could contribute to the WCS publication. But of course that brings up the issue that I am not a blogger and even if I were, nine times out of ten I would not be blogging about anything remotely related to CS.

No, I’m not the blogging type. I’m much more the fiction writing type. My strong suit has been writing dialogue like a regular Aaron Sorkin. Look at how well I segued this to a better topic! Ah, of course I’m just kidding. Although I easily could, I’ll avoid pouring out my love for Steve Jobs in this post. Maybe I’ll do it after I’ve seen the movie 5 more times. So, next week most likely.

What I actually wanted to talk about is just movies in general. If you’ve met me in the last year and a half you know that I love movies, there’s little I want to do or talk about other than movies.

I haven’t been like that for very long, however. In fact, just a handful of years ago I would probably tell you that I didn’t like movies; they were too long and not original enough for me. The too long complaint has a few different roots; being a NASCAR fan made it hard to commit sufficient time to a movie, school also could present a deterrent, movies showing on tv had commercials, and movies in theaters required me to avoid my phone for the entire duration. As far as the not original enough complaint; well, when all you watch is rom-coms and franchise films a lack of originality is to be expected.

So what changed? The full reason is rather embarrassing, but it can be summed up as my friend and I decided to indiscriminately watch as many movies in specific actors’ filmographies as possible. What ended up being so fun is that I watched movies that I would have never considered watching before, and sometimes I even liked them! One such movie was Inglourious Basterds. It’s pretty well known to the point that it should be almost surprising that I hadn’t seen it yet, but I had always been told that it would be too violent for my taste. But then I watched it and I loved it and it became one of my top 5 favorite movies.

That being said, the movie that I truly credit for taking me from liking movies to Liking Movies is Hunger. It was without a doubt the furthest out of left field to watch — surprising to me at the time — I got it right away. I was unsettled and gripped by it the first time and when I rewatched it the next day it was just as amazing to me. To this day — and by this point I’ve seen it at least seven times — I find it just as breathtaking as the first time. The realization that I was capable of connecting to such a different and obscure type of movie convinced me that I was capable of enjoying a lot more movies than I was limiting myself to.

That’s the origin story for Robin: The Movie Lover. But what about how I then go about liking movies?

It’s sort of a strange concept, because it’s really one that can’t be forced. There aren’t rules as much as general principles I find myself automatically following. So while I’m enumerating them and making them seem very structured, it honestly isn’t. I added examples to them because that’s a chance for me to talk about more movies. And don’t think just because it’s written primarily in 2nd person that I think everybody should share my view.

  1. Try Different Things. Is it in a genre you don’t usually watch? Is it not very widely known but has good reviews? Did you mention seeing it to someone else and they told you that movie looked weird? You should probably see it then! Many movies that I ended up liking a lot weren’t in my safe zone. An almost role of thumb I’ve found myself developing is that if my dad thinks a movie choice is weird, it’s probably a good idea to give it a shot. I remember him saying that about Ex Machina and Testament of Youth. Both of which turned out to be fantastic movies. And after Shaun the Sheep had a barely-at-all marketed release but received rave reviews, I saw that and thought it was a truly adorable animation.
  2. Listen But Don’t Be Forced. Reviews as well as word of mouth are great ways to get some insight on movies, either good or bad. But I don’t want to let other people’s opinions completely dictate my decisions. I’ve read terrible reviews of movies I loved and vice versa. However, at the same time I’ve been swayed by other people’s opinions and ended up being better off for it. This was the case with Spy, a movie I firmly had no interest in seeing until a number of sources said it was great and I honestly loved it.
  3. (I’m begging you to) Manage Expectations. This comes pretty easy to me because I am very pessimistic. However, even I am capable of getting way too excited for a movie and setting the bar too high. But if you maintain reasonable expectations (e.g. “I want to be amused by this movie” instead of “this is going to be the greatest comedy ever”) you’ll leave a lot happier. For example, Magic Mike 2 was a movie that I, and luckily most people, went in completely aware that it was going to be lacking in substance by delivering in visual appeal. So while the dialogue was atrocious at times, I wouldn’t think twice about saying I enjoyed seeing the movie.
  4. Don’t Be Disappointed. This is a follow up from last point. Sometimes movies will fall short of your expectations. But don’t blame the movie because you weren’t being realistic. If the movie doesn’t deliver on what you wanted it to, don’t dismiss it out of hand. Look for other things that were good about it or evaluate why it missed the mark. I personally did not love Captain America: The Winter Soldier as much as most of the world did and to be honest I’m not sure why — it may have had to do with the fake Washington D.C. or the fact that the action scenes gave me a migraine — but there are still elements I enjoyed and when I rewatch it (which I’ve done twice so far) I’m prepared.
  5. Don’t Be Clueless. Nobody expects you to be an expert before you see a movie, but in this day and age it doesn’t hurt to at least know a little about the movie you’re going to see. One example that comes to mind is a mother outraged that March of the Penguins wasn’t an animated movie with talking animals. If you didn’t know a relatively obvious fact going in, that’s okay, but you can’t be upset because at the movie because you weren’t informed. My friend and I made a mistake this summer by thinking that Testament of Youth was about World War II instead of World War I. Yes, it made the first part of the movie a little tougher to watch because I was not following the set-up quite as it was meant to be, but that was my fault, not the movie’s. And I got past that and was able to adjust and like the movie.
  6. See Bad Movies. Seeing bad movies will make you appreciate good movies even more. But it’s important to be realistic even when you see a bad movie and find other things to enjoy. When I saw Fantastic Four this summer I knew it was going to be awful. But I had a really great time seeing the movie because I went with two friends and we got to groan about things together.
  7. Hate Watch Movies. I define hate watching as different from just seeing a bad movie. Hate watching is when you see something that you know you personally will not like that still might be an okay movie whereas a bad movie is somewhat universally considered not good. Hate watching movies is a great idea because it gives you a place to channel your negative energy so you have more positivity for the movies that you want to like. Not to mention hate watching almost becomes a game to keep you entertained even in the lulls. I partook in my hate watching when I saw Paper Towns, I honestly hate teenagers so much and didn’t really like the movie but I would still consider it a pretty enjoyable experience.
  8. Try To Be Positive. If you are seeing a movie (and it’s not a hate watch) then you owe it to yourself to at least try to enjoy it. You are taking the time and money to see it and the only person who will be negatively impacted by you not liking the movie is yourself. Even if a movie is disappointing in so many ways, try to find some way to spin it to a positive for yourself, even if the only positive you can find is joking about how terrible it is. You don’t have to leave the theater feeling negative, so do your best to not let that happen. I had to do this when I saw Jurassic World. It was so disappointing in so many ways, but I had a really killer joke about the ending that I wouldn’t consider it too bad of an experience.
  9. Expect Lots of Mediocrity. Unless you are my mother, not every movie you see will be one of your favorites. Be prepared for that. Don’t unfairly judge the mediocre movies for being who they are. That’s just what they are. You’ll probably see some unamusing comedies, and unimaginative franchise movies, bad book adaptations, disgraceful reboots and other movies that just don’t bring anything to the table. That’s okay. Don’t let these movies ruin your experience or your perspective on moviegoing as a whole. Just keep in mind that there is something better around the corner. I would gladly sit through 20 Pitch Perfect 2’s in exchange for just one 12 Years a Slave.
  10. Have Company. Seeing movies alone is great. I’ve seen some truly awesome movies alone as well as some less than awesome movies alone. But seeing movies with someone else, especially someone like minded improves the experience ten-fold. Having someone to share a glance with at the stupid life lessons (Paper Towns), to smile at when you know you can relate to the conversation (Trainwreck), or to gasp alongside when someone does something adorable (Man From U.N.C.L.E.) will stick with you even more than the movie itself. You can’t always have a friend there to hold your hand when the shot is just so perfect you could die (Steve Jobs) but if you take advantage when you can, you’ll even appreciate the times you can’t in a better way.

I guess I’ll leave the post off here. Now you know a little bit about what got me into movies and what my perspective on them is. I hope I left you with an insight to how my brain works and maybe even the desire to see a movie.

Until next time!

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