Film, like music, is something all people enjoy in one way or another. I’d find it very hard to believe if someone honestly said they do not like movies.
The great thing about film is there is so much to choose from. No matter what your tastes, you’ll be able to find something that works for you. That being said (without any condescension)most film-goers do not venture very far from what is played at the local multiplex. I say with no condescension, because the films they play at the larger theatres can be great, in fact, many of them are, but just like music, there is so much happening outside of the mainstream that can be extremely rewarding and enjoyable.
The problem is that going beyond what is laid right in front of you can often seem like a daunting and confusing task, as there are so many options. What keeps a lot of people from discovering film is t the misinterpretation of the word classic.
Many will mislabel films as classic when the proper category is simply: old and is some cases, bad. As an example of this, on a recent Air Canada flight back from London I clicked on the classic film section and found several options, including Ed Wood’s Plan 9. Now for those who don’t know, Plan 9 From Outer Space is fairly considered one of the worst films of all time.
Some may venture deeper into the world of film but get stuck with a less-than-great film just because someone labelled it classic.
Possibly the easiest way to start your discovery of film is to make a list of your favourite films and directors. With that list is it fairly easy to work back and find their influences, and start watching the films by the filmmakers that influenced your favourite directors.
For example, if you were to look up Tarantino’s influences you’d find his favourite films include The Good, The Bad and The Ugly as well as Taxi Driver. For me, both of these films are great starting points into much larger bodies of work by Leone and Scorsese. It is also a much more accessible way of starting your journey into film instead of going in blind. It will let you know what kind of film you like and which directors you enjoy.
Several years ago when David Gordon Green was first announced as the director for Pineapple Express, I decided to check out his back catalogue. This led me to start watching Terrence Malick‘s films. Since then both those directors have become two of my favourite filmmakers and a huge part of the reason I want to become a filmmaker.
One thing that must be kept in mind while watching older films, especially ones that were the first to do certain things, such as the neo-realist films from Italy or the French New wave, is that they were the first and that means their craft was yet to be perfected.
Watching the films of someone like Godard is a bit jarring at first as the filmmaking is far from perfect. But what it lacks in technical perfection it more than makes up for in energy and utter love for the art form. While many Hollywood films are put together flawlessly with perfect editing and effects, they often lack the heart and soul, and most of all the pure love of film that in a way forced these older filmmakers to make the films they did.
Once you are able to see past these small barriers and see the greatness of some of these older films you can start enjoying them on a whole other level which is often far more enjoyable and entertaining than the large tent-pole releases out today.