Enjoy your film

Let go of the snark. You might actually like it


You may have noticed, but there’s now a very distinct portion of the movie-going audience who yearn to criticise far more than they want to actually enjoy anything. They wait, breath bated, for the credits to roll, so they can unleash a barrage of snark upon whichever poor fools dared try and entertain them.

Maybe they’re the logic police; maybe there was too much CGI; it could be an accent, or the voiceover, or an actress, or the music. Nothing is too big or too small for this peanut gallery of cynical wannabe-critics.

Now, films are difficult to make. Crazy difficult. The worst film you can think of took hundreds of skilled craftspeople thousands of hours to put together. You could argue pretty convincingly that the minor miracle of any film actually making it from brain to screen is worthy of our collective respect. It’s not an unreasonable stance, but it seems like a pretty low barrier. There are too many films for the audience to ooh and aah based on their mere existence, and besides, it shouldn’t actually matter all that much. No one should be required to like something just because its production was hard.

So if we’re not required to respect the craft, then what exactly is the problem? Does the act of buying a ticket not entitle the audience to an opinion? Sure it does. In fact, don’t even drop the cash, hard-earned as it undoubtedly is. Snark about the poster if that’s what gets you up in the morning.

You aren’t doing this for anyone else’s sake.

It’s just that, well, it seems like a pretty miserable way to approach the world. There’s far more happiness to be found in trying to actually enjoy things. You may not have loved it, but there was surely something in that film you just watched that you kinda liked. Some little gem, somewhere.

No manmade work is truly perfect; search hard enough, and you’ll always spot the cracks. But the mere act of looking for positives can itself impact your feelings. All it takes is a small shift in stance – a moment to feel the sun on your face before rushing to judgement – and the happiness dividends can be considerable.

The cynicism is especially confounding given that the targets exist for our entertainment. And doubly-especially when you consider just how many good films there are to watch. It’s well established that we’re living through the Golden Age of Television, but what about the Golden Age of Film?

If your knee-jerk reaction is a snort of derision, then hang in there for a second. Put aside your well-worn concerns that the big studios aren’t making the mid-budget adult dramas that defined the eighties and nineties. Those still exist at other companies (think STX and A24, or production outfits like Annapurna, or look at Amazon’s recent festival acquisition spree). Put aside your dislike of Marvel, or superheroes in general, or Transformers, or shared universes, or YA adaptations, or reboots. You could avoid every film in every one of those categories, and still be spoiled for choice year-round.

If you do happen to like giant tentpoles, though, you’re covered like at no previous time in history. If you like tiny independent Duplass brothers’ movies, then ditto. We have more access to foreign films, more genuine Oscar contenders than ever, and at every level films are being produced more frequently than most viewers can possibly watch. Maybe you have to look slightly harder, but quality is everywhere.

There have always been great movies, and always bad ones. If you remember the eighties as nothing but a masterpiece conveyor belt, it’s only because the chaff fades. This is the natural order of things and, when the same happens to the 2000s and 2010s, the higher production numbers mean the last few years will seem positively stuffed with classics.

Cynicism and snark are admittedly not new phenomena – just check Twitter during a political debate at any moment of the day – but it seems like such a waste when it’s aimed so gleefully at something as potentially happiness-inducing as a movie.

So do yourself a favour and just try and enjoy a bit more. There are more good movies than ever before, and almost always something to enjoy in whichever you choose. Haters may very well be going to hate, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the hater.


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