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The Simple Movie Fan
What Kind of Movie Do You Like?
First and foremost, I think the important thing in looking for a movie to go to, or, to rent for home viewing, is to be certain about the kind of movie you really want to see. Sounds a little silly, right? But, the thing is, a lot of people aren't really clear on that when they pick movies. Many are in the habit of viewing films that are inconsistent with their taste. Again, sounds silly, right? But, experience and observation have shown me that this happens a lot. I've had people tell me about what they like to see in movies, then I hear them talking about some movie they saw that they didn't like that had NONE of the qualities that they like in a movie. The first step in enjoying a film is to be sure that it has the qualities you like (or at least that it's advertised to have them). Now, I understand that people, particularly when on dates or in groups often end up seeing movies that they might not like so much because of the varying tastes of their dates or members of the group they're with. Under such circumstances, you can't complain too much if you decide to go on the movie date or to the movies with the group. Especially if you know what it is you're going to see. But, if there is a specific movie that comes out or you see advertised somewhere, and the ad looks catchy for whatever reason, you shouldn't just hop off to go see it without knowing something about the movie. (More people do this than you might think.) Especially if you have majority or complete control over what and what kind of movie you see.
Second, while critics have their place and their uses, be careful about them. There's only so much help any critic can be. I mean, if you have what I refer to as "technical reasons" for seeing a film, then, yes, by all means, consult as many critics as you can. I think they can be a great help in the technical assessment of any film. But, if you're going to the movies for your personal entertainment, I mean just for the pure enjoyment of seeing a movie, a critic won't be as much help as some might think. Unless your taste in films does not extend beyond the technical attributes of a film or you've happened to find just the right critic, the one that shares your specific taste in films, they're not going to be a lot of help. (This has largely been my own experience.) The best critics I've heard, while sharing their personal assessment of a film, let you know just what kind of movie the film in question is, what its basic qualities are, and what can be expected of it. Then they provide recommendations on the basis of what the film provides the audience. I never listen to critics that blast a film completely, leaving no room for any redeeming qualities. Every movie, no matter how bad, has something in it that somebody likes. Even films as bad as Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space" has something of a cult following.
Own What You Like
The best way to get the most out of a movie is to feel good about what you like. While this may sound like a statement of the obvious, there are people out there who are not comfortable about the kind of film they like. They may have a preference for a type of film that isn't quite so popular, or may not be quite so well made or didn't have quite so high a budget or whatever. From what I've seen, people in this situation (it really shouldn't be a situation) have a hard time enjoying any film they watch unless they're alone. Alone or not, you should be able to enjoy a film the way you want to, as much as you want to. Who cares what anyone else thinks. In the end, if you can't enjoy the film, what's the point in watching it?
As for myself, I'm quite the escapist when it comes to movies. Like any other movie fan, I have my own tastes and expectations of a movie. I watch films for the express purpose of getting away from the world around me for a couple of hours (or for however long the film lasts). If a movie doesn't provide me with that, odds are quite good that I'm not going to like it. But, on the other hand, I am kind of easy to please. I've enjoyed many different kinds of movies. I've gotten exactly the kind of enjoyment I like from "arthouse" movies, action/adventure films, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, romantic comedies, dramas, docu-dramas, documentaries, and historical films. But I've also learned to enjoy a film on the basis of what it offers as the kind of movie that it actually is. If it's a drama, I don't look for action or violence as that's not what the film offers. I don't personally rate a film on the basis of what it doesn't offer. Once I learned to do this, the scope of the kinds of movies that I can enjoy became very wide.