08 January 2010

12 Steps To Becoming a Cinephile

Many of us have benefitted from one of the various 12 step programs existent. Here now is my effort to give back. I offer the world a 12 step program to become an addict. A film addict that is, or a cinephile if you prefer. As with all 12 step programs this is a suggested program. Take what you can from it and share with others. Only #1 on this list would seem at all mandatory.

1. Watch a Lot of Movies. If this is the only one you do you'll still be in good shape.  I can't overstate its importance so I won't even try.

2. Watch Them Critically. All this means is think about what you're seeing. Be aware of what the actors and the directors are doing. Don't just follow the story, note how it is being told. You'll like movies even more if you watch them critically.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Watch Movies a Second, Third Tenth Time. A great film just gets better with repeat viewings plus you find different things to appreciate about it each time. You'll also be able to tell the "how" of the movie. The "what" usually comes with one viewing.

4. Read About the Movies You Watch. This will not be news to you: the internet (which I'm sure you're familiar with) has reviews, articles, blog posts and what not on any and all films. Just checking out the Internet Movie Database is an excellent start. Google works too. Read about movies and find out why others loved or hated them.

5. Ignore the Haters. Some people don't like a beloved movie? Those same people post nasty comments or write entire articles decrying said film? Don't get in a spitting contest with them. Learn to ignore, it'll add years to your life. Responding to their comments is a waste of your time.

6. Watch Film Documentaries and Interviews. The DVDs you own and rent are rife with those "making of..." documentaries along with interviews, talking heads and behind the scenes stuff. Watch 'em. Also check out TCM and other channels for documentaries and interviews. You'll learn a lot.

7. Read History and/or Literature. I'm smart enough to know that this helps you appreciate films but not smart enough to say why. Trust me though.

8. Appreciate Paintings and Photography. See #7. Although I think the benefits here are more obvious.

9. Sample and Enjoy all Genres. First of all  the word genre can be deceptive. Sometimes saying a film is a Western or Sci Fi is misleading labeling. There are many types of films within genres so don't ignore types of film. Worst of all some people ignore entire time periods. I've come across folks who won't watch anything new and others who won't watch anything old. Talk about cutting of your nose to spite your face! Imagine what you're missing by not watching silent films or recent ones.

10. Figure Out What You Love the Most. While I urge you to sample all types of films, figure out who and what you love the most and revel in that love. Never stray too far from the movies or movie makers that really speak to you or make you laugh or want to dance.

11. Talk About Films. Have chats with people about movies. Discuss particular films and stars and directors and anything and everything else. And I'm not talking online here! Actual old fashioned face to face conversations with a fellow human being.

12. When Bored, Make Lists. Stuck in a boring meeting (is there any other kind?) or a class that is treading water or anyplace else where your mind is wandering? Make lists of your favorites. Top ten by a director or with a particular star or from 1936 or that you saw in particular theater. Anything. It'll fill the time in a most pleasant way that reminds you of your love of cinema.

Now get started with Step 1!


MovieNut14 said...

Good list!

BTW, I've nominated your blog for an award on mine, be sure to check it out and pass along the love!

Colt said...

I am not sure why Number 8 says "see #8".

Also, I would like to know if there are any books you would recommend to a budding cinephile to read.

Richard Hourula said...

Was supposed to say: "see number 7" fixed it.
Books, you can't go wrong with David Thomson, especially The Whole Equation; also his biographical dictionary of film. Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris is terrific as is Mick LaSalle's book, Complicated Women. The Golden Age of Cinema by Richard Jewell is another. Bios of directors can be good and they tend to be more about films than bios of actors.

Colt said...

Thanks added to my "Poor Man's Netflix"(Library wait list).

Colt said...

I realize this is a little bit behind, but I was leaving my library last and was struck with the thought that people should check with the local library for events relating to film. Ours here in Salt Lake has a local film group that meets to watch a classic film and then has a discussion afterward.

The library also has a large selection of films to check out if you are on a tight budget.

Richard Hourula said...

Excellent points. Thanks.