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How to View Cinema Correctly

Have you ever finished a film with a friend, and they proceed to immediately launch into their theory on what they believe it “meant”? They instantly seem to have the answer for what the director was “trying to say,” and meanwhile you have drool spilling out of the corner of your mouth. You are lost in thought, still trying to grasp how to pronounce Joaquin Phoenix’s name, and you’re half sure his name might actually be Joker Phoenix. Your friend rattles off a phrase like “Capitalistic Masculinity.” You nod your head like the mindless, cog-in-the-machine, drone soy-boy freak that you are… and to top it all off, you feel like a ginormous dummy.

This feeling of shame you hold is because your “friend” in this scenario, is better than you are. They watch movies better than you do. You are, in short, an uncultured caveman and a freak. Which, as we both know, is not acceptable. Your reputation is on the line, and if you don’t have a theory as to what that film “meant” ready to regurgitate in the movie theater parking lot, then your ass is grass my friend (your friends will kill you, chop you into pieces, and smoke you like they would weed and/or grass).

In this essay I will educate the reader (soon to be VIEWER (film viewer that is!)) on how to watch a film, using my professional guidelines… but I will not just teach you how to watch film. I will teach you how to absorb film, so that it truly becomes one with your being, much like the xenomorph in the Alien film series. And too, much like the xenomorph in Alien, this newfound film passion will burst out of your chest in a fiery bout of expression, and everyone in your surroundings shall exclaim, “Wow.” If ever you have wanted to “wow” your friends, well then this is the specific essay on a blog chock-full of young men ranting about movies into the void for you.

SETH’S FILM VIEWING RULES:

Rule #1: NO PHONES

You want to watch movies? Then hurl your phone into a river, or other large body of water. Phones have no place in the life of a cinephile, it is a mere distraction – and I don’t want to hear any of that BS about “emergencies”. There’s an emergency happening right in front of you! It’s called The Inciting Incident! As Alfred Hitchcock once famously state, “Movies – the final frontier.” Note how he said movies and NOT phones!

Rule #2: FOCUS

So, you just finished a film. Great. Good work. Now, quickly, recite every line of dialogue from the beginning of the film on… What’s that? You can’t? Well, looks like it’s back to frame one with you! And this time, how about paying attention?! A cinephile must have A Beautiful Mind and a photographic memory (or even better, a cinematographic memory!) if they want to earn the respect of others. True cinephiles will, in fact, often speak in terms of which frame a certain scene or line of dialogue occurred so you had better focus up.

After a film, one film buff might say, “I truly enjoyed the diction and framing found in frames 3,134 through 4,433. The delivery of such dialogue, particularly with the surrounding mise en scène illuminating the importance of such words, was incredibly profound and worthy of a Certified Fresh rating from the film critic Rotten Tomatoes.”

To which you would respond, “Frame 3,134 through 4,433. Yes. The low exposure of the film made it quite dark, and when he said ‘Rosebud’ I found myself nodding and stroking my chin with delight. Good. Thank you for saying that.” These are the conversations you have to look forward to upon completing my essay and promptly logging it on Goodreads.

Rule #3: STAND AS YOU WATCH

This rule is quite controversial. I say this as someone who has had virtually every object feasibly held in a movie theater rifled at the back of my head while standing upright in a movie theater, and yet still I stand. The fact is this, movies are the products of the hard work and toil of countless studio executives. If you cannot respect that and show solidarity by standing in respect of movies, and what movies stands for in this country, then you might as well get the fuck off of this website.

My ideal movie theater has no chairs. It has little white boxes drawn in chalk on an entirely flat surface that moviegoers will all stand in with perfect posture, and there they will respectfully stare at a 72 × 53 ft screen in sheer silence.

Rule #4: NO ESCAPE

As a cinephile, once you have begun a film, you have signed a contract of sorts with the filmmakers. This contract states that you will not quit mid-film. You will watch it in its entirety or be shunned all the way down into the Cinephile Underworld (a location I intend to write about further at a later date). The fact that the doors in movie theaters are not locked as soon as the film begins is a fact that sickens me beyond belief and has often kept me awake at night… watching movies! So perhaps I can’t complain.

Rule #5: UTILIZE YOUR FILM CHARM

I assume that, if you are interested in becoming a true cinephile, you already own a personal film charm. However, for those of you that are unaware, a film charm is a magical and unique object of importance to both oneself and cinema. After each film viewing, your film charm absorbs the energy of the moving image and harnesses it as a form of pure, unbridled, and raw moviegoing power. You must keep your film charm on your person for all film viewings if you wish to grow as a cinephile, as this power can then be harnessed to “level up” in a sense and make you a smarter person. This process is unique to each charm. As my charm is a VHS copy of Mrs. Doubtfire, I must re-watch Mrs. Doubtfire in its entirety (including special features) in order to absorb its power. I know what you’re thinking, “wouldn’t watching Mrs. Doubtfire just refill the charm, and thus creating an endless cycle of moviegoing vigor?” This would be incorrect and foolish. This is not how film charms work.­­­­

My film charm (left), a VHS copy of Mrs. Doubtfire (1993). My best friend Trevor’s film charm (right) at a recent meeting, Rate Race (2000).

Rule #6: JAMES CAMERON ONLY

You must only watch James Cameron movies.

(an exception obviously lies in a circumstance where one is absorbing harnessed energy from one’s film charm.)

James Cameron

There you have it. With these 6 rules I can effectively guarantee that you will become among the greatest film critics in the world, nay the galaxy. And after a lifelong adherence to these rules, your visage will live among the stars alongside the greats – and no… not Hollywood stars, but the real stars… up in the sky – God’s Movies.