I wanted a catchy title, so people would come in and we could have a discussion, so let me explain first.
I noticed recently that I do not enjoy a lot of (not most, thankfully) films that I see. Perhaps, it just seems like a lot comparatively. When I was a child, in my pre-cinephilia days, I enjoyed everything that I saw. It was the spectacle of seeing that drew me in, essentially. Then, during my early cinephile days, I still liked about 9 out of 10 films that I saw. Then, I saw a lot more films. I noticed I was becoming much more critical and it was more difficult to see something that I enjoyed. While 5 years ago, I could watch three great films in a day, today, I may go a week without seeing anything good.
During one of my classes, I got into a discussion with one of my classmates. After a screening of Silences of the Palace, I confessed that I HATED it! She asked me if I had liked anything we had seen in that class. I realized that perhaps I had confessed to disliking a lot of films in that class (for the record, that class was where I saw my first Alvarez and first Alea). It really seemed like my greatest fear was coming true. I have always been afraid that one day, I will watch so many films that nothing will surprise me anymore and that I will never be able to enjoy films again.
Then, more recently, I was in another class, where our prof started going off on how much she disliked Michael Haneke and Steve McQueen. Suddenly, something hit me. I realized something profound. That is where the title comes in. A cinephile watches so many films that he or she starts to make connections among them and becomes more and more critical. So, paradoxically, the cinephile is the one who hates films most vehemently. To clarify, I don’t mean all films. However, the cinephile will find it more difficult to find a great film than the non-cinephile (who need not be simply a casual viewer). In my film classes, there are many students of film, but there are very few cinephiles.
What do you think? Is cinephilia defined by the curse of being very difficult to please and hating most of what you watch or am I full of crap?
That’s weird. My experience is the complete opposite. The more I studied film, the more films I shot, the more films I enjoyed. Obviously it depends on which films you’re watching but I’ve found the more I see, the more I realize how much great stuff is out there.
I used to think the current state of cinema was in a bad place (non-cinephiles always tell me “this year was so crappy for movies”) but not anymore. Since averaging around 100 new films a year, I’ve realized we are currently in a sort of golden age for really great films.
Hard to please? Yes. Hating most of what you see? No.
I’ve also found that most of my old favourites have not stood the test of time with me. I look back at old movies i thought were ‘perfect’ or at least close to and see a lot of flaws in them, but i’m the same with music too. It drives my friends nuts, because i’m constantly revaluating things.
Another strange thing that has happened is i tend to appreciate films on the extreme ends of the spectrum, but less so in the middle. For example, in the late 90’s i would have never raved about a film like Colossal Youth but i probably wouldn’t have liked Step Brothers either.
It just means that you’ve become more discriminating, and there’s absolutely no reason to feel badly about that.
I’ve made this very simple apt analogy more than once on this site, so I’ll do it again. It doesn’t mean that a beer connoisseur “hates beer” because he or she is going to be critical of many brands of beer. The same goes for wine connoisseurs and gourmandes and so on. This whole “I don’t understand why so many of these MUBI elitists hate cinema” sentiment has been advanced before, but it’s really a ridiculous one. Hating something and loving something so much that you want to see and appreciate the best that it has to offer are two completely different things.
When I was a child, in my pre-cinephilia days, I enjoyed everything that I saw. It was the spectacle of seeing that drew me in, essentially.
He who increases knowledge,
Can’t have love without hate, two sides of the same coin.
….AND OTHER CLICHÉS.
QUOTE: “A cinephile watches so many films that he or she starts to make connections among them and becomes more and more critical. So, paradoxically, the cinephile is the one who hates films most vehemently. To clarify, I don’t mean all films. However, the cinephile will find it more difficult to find a great film than the non-cinephile (who need not be simply a casual viewer). In my film classes, there are many students of film, but there are very few cinephiles.”
Sorry, you are wrong. What you are discribing is: I used to be a cinephile, but I’m losing it. My experience is, that on the contrary a cinephile will start to like more and more films, as he watches more and more films, and learns to appreciate more and more films, as he discovers more and more layers in even the “stupidest” film because of his cinephilia. That’s why it’s called an ART form: because there are no rules, no rights or wrongs, and ultimately saying that one doesn’t like a film thus only speaks about oneself – not about the film. So to make it short: it’s sad to hear/read it, but you’re actually losing your love for films (the way you are describing it). But maybe this is just a phase, and it will get better in time. Try to see it as a sort of depression or burn-out syndrome (watching too many films and thus not being able to appreciate them for what they are anymore), that can be overcome. :-)
The Six Stages of Movie Geek Evolution LADY SPIGGOTT linked to are very instructive. We should all try to reach the ixth stage as soon as possible, and then from this “sixth” base actually start evolving. All before that is just “research” and getting acquainted with your art of choice, so to speak.
Liking everything is exactly the same as liking nothing, it’s just a horizontal line.
You cannot love certain films unless you hate others, a very important see-saw yin-yang principle is at work here. The more films you discover that you love, the more films you will find that you do not. Sad, but that’s the price you pay for deep exploration.
edit: As an aside, this is a saucy topic, very curious to see where this goes… kudos the the TC.
Disagree, based on my understanding that the opposite of love is indifference, not hate.
Hate is confused and inadequate thinking.
well I don’t mean hate in like an ignorant racism kind of way, call it vehement dislike if that weighs easier on your conscience.
This may not be entirely related, but on a side note, I notice a tendency among certain people, notably some academics and intellectuals perhaps, to judge films based solely on their intellectual/philosophical content, regardless of the filmmaking itself. For example, I read two articles recently written it would appear by intellectuals in which they explained how they loved Antonioni’s films with Monica Vitti but claimed he suffered a creative decline following Red Desert, and both found Blow Up and The Passenger to be clever, but shallow, and I can’t say I entirely agree with this. They may be more accessible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re shallow. And in either case, I think any informed, self-respectinhg cinephile can tell the two latter films are impeccably directed by a talented artist regardless of the narrative material., but that’s just me.
I think people invested in film, including myself sometimes, suffer from a certain inferiority complex, since you generally have to prove yourself as a filmmaker to gain intellectual credibility, or at least that’s what many filmmakers probably believe even if it’s not entirely true, and many have resorted to believing the more inaccessible a film the more intellectually credible it is. If a film is too accessible, a more casual viewer may appreciate it and that will make null and void its potential status as a work of art. I don’t think a poet or jazz musician would suffer from such a complex, since one would more easily gain intellectual credibility by virtue of being a poet. In other words, being a poet or a jazz musician accords one high brow credibility as long as their good artists, whereas filmmakers and others invested in film in any capacity seem to be skeptical of a work’s high brow credibility if a less seasoned viewer is able to appreciate it. My point is nobody would question the intellectual credibility of an accessible poem, because it’s poetry, but with film it’s different.
Sure, that is better, but still too emotionally based.
How about discerning the differences based on the premise that order focuses perception
i.e. discover more and more layers
QUOTE ROBERT W PEABODY III: “Disagree, based on my understanding that the opposite of love is indifference, not hate. Hate is confused and inadequate thinking.”
Probably the best (and also ultimate) thing that can be said in this discussion.
Mr, P you’ve managed to express the whole paradox of human experience within two shot posts. For that alone I absolutely HAVE to go to you profile an click on the “Follow” button. :-D
Heh. It’s funny you say that Pisces since there is currently a big to-do in the New York Review of Books over a poetry anthology edited by Rita Dove, where the noted critic Helen Vendler basically felt Dove was concerned more about accessibility and mulitculturalism than in quality. It’s caused a great deal of back and forth arguments in the poetry community which aren’t that different than what tends to happen here, although they word their complaints better no doubt.
Damn, my last post took so long, that two others got in already. Lol
Interesting perception Pisces.
Totally agree with the OP, but, overall, cinephiles get the most enjoyment out of films because when we find one we like, it’s that much more exciting and we like it that much more.
DIGRESSION: I used to be the music director of my college radio station – I had to screen all our submissions and decide which were good enough to be played and which ones went in the trash. I had to like a lot of music to get that position, but I realized once I started doing it that my job was to hate music rather than love it. In everything I listened to, I had to look for something stupid or derivative or otherwise not worth our listeners’ while, and it was a fairly depressing job, especially when bad artists called back about their cd they submitted and I had to politely articulate why we threw it away.
I can completely relate to what you’re talking about! For me, the situation saddens me. There are many times when I leave a theater feeling so unfulfilled—like being really hungry but eating a really disappointing meal. I recently read a quote from Pauline Kael’s essay, “Trash, Art and the Movies” that gets to what you’re saying:
When you’re young the odds are very good that you’ll find something to enjoy in almost any movie. But as you grow more experienced, the odds change. I saw a picture a few years ago that was the sixth version of material that wasn’t much to start with. Unless you’re feebleminded, the odds get worse and worse. We don’t go on reading the same kind of manufactured novels—pulp Westerns or detective thrillers, say—all of our lives, and we don’t want to go on and on looking at movies about cute heists by comically assorted gangs. The problem with a popular art form is that those who want something more are in a hopeless minority compared with the millions who are always seeing it for the first time, or for the reassurance and gratification of seeing the conventions fulfilled again. Probably a large part of the older audience gives up movies for this reason—simply that they’ve seen it before. And probably this is why so many of the best movie critics quit. They’re wrong when they blame it on the movies going bad; it’s the odds becoming so bad, and they can no longer bear the many tedious movies for the few good moments and the tiny shocks of recognition. Some become too tired, too frozen in fatigue, to respond to what is new. Others who do stay awake may become too demanding for the young who are seeing it all for the first hundred times.
So true Jazz, so true…
The Six Stages of Movie Geek Evolution was amusing.
I’ve never seen “Transmorphers” (although I’m curious!), but I hope I’m past the hipster snob stage…. It probably lingers a bit though.
As WBA said, this is just a phase.
Some people progress and grow out of this phase. Others get stuck in it.
Love that chart, Lady Spiggott!
I think people invested in film, including myself sometimes, suffer from a certain inferiority complex, since you generally have to prove yourself as a filmmaker to gain intellectual credibility, or at least that’s what many filmmakers probably believe even if it’s not entirely true, and many have resorted to believing the more inaccessible a film the more intellectually credible it is.
This is what is known as youthful thinking.
(bangs head) — OH YEAH, I forgot, some people never grow up! Huh….
Stay away from those people who never grow up, Pisces, and you will have peace of mind.
How weird is that chart? It’s like scary accurate.
“Needing a break from classics and subtitled films, yet still seeking to advance their knowledge, Filmsnobicus may turn to Troma or exploitation.”
I guess that’s where I am right now… except with horror. (I couldn’t stand the two Troma films I watched!) I don’t think I’m aggressive, though, so am I fully evolved then?
well…. AM I, ASSHOLE???
“although they word their complaints better no doubt.”
I don’t know, Greg . . . have you read many contemporary poets lately? ;)
Baron DFFOO, are you yelling at the chart?
Another thing on the thought of having to make an inaccessible film to be credible — I think at the bottom of this there is a fear that you really have nothing interesting to say. If you have to try that hard.
Interesting artwork comes from the fact that an artist LIVES life, reflects on it, and is able to express these reflections very well. If you are into “intellectual” art fine, but without substance, speaking from REAL life, speaking honest insight, then forget it. It will be the emperor’s clothes. I hate it when people play that game. It’s so hollow and pathetic.
Have confidence in your own experience, find what it is that you have to say FROM YOU, and fuck everyone else and their ideas. Seriously.
Try to see it as a sort of depression or burn-out syndrome (watching too many films and thus not being able to appreciate them for what they are anymore), that can be overcome.
I agree with WBA here.
It might just be time to TURN OFF THE DVD/BLU-RAY player, and step away from the theater entrance.
Everyone needs a break from something they are passionate about, now and then.
Yeah, I would say it’s really most likely just a temporary hypersensitivity to which you will perceptually compensate for and eventually will readjust to the point that you will be able to suspend the analytical stuff and get back to seeing a film as its own thing.