Friday, June 23, 2006

How to Convince People You Know More about Movies than Anyone

Somehow, I have this reputation for being an expert on movies. Not sure how this happened, because all I know is that I don’t know that much. However, I learned from being a video store manager how to fake it through a movie conversation and make it sound like I know more than I do.

And now, I will share this bit of wisdom, broken down into three easy steps.

1) You can show enthusiasm, but do not gush.

In other words, keep your cool. Sure you may think ‘Kill Bill’ was the BEST FREAKIN’ MOVIE, EVER(!!!!), and if someone doesn’t like it, they should SHUT UP AND DIE IN A MILLION LITTLE PAINFUL WAYS!!!! But don’t say it. Don’t even type it. Just think it. This is your special secret and you do not have to share it with the world. If you need to praise, don’t speak in generalities or hyperbole, just focus on a specific – “That scene with the severed heads was pretty exciting, huh?”

The same goes for negative reactions. If a movie makes your face pucker until you work up a contemptible enough glob of spit, don’t spit at the person you’re talking to, even if they do think ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ was pretty funny. They don’t deserve your spit; they deserve your pity.

What you can do is branch out from the negative experience you had to a semi-positive experience. Say something like, “I understand what you mean. Meg Ryan is such a versatile actress… I often wonder why she doesn’t star in a Lars von Trier movie. He always gets such great performances out of his leading ladies.”

2) Pretend you already know what you don’t know, and then pretend you don’t know what you know.

This is actually a good mantra for life in general, and if not life in general, then at least for middle management.

Say you’re talking about the end of “The Usual Suspects” and you don’t know (nor do you really care) who Keyser Soyze is. Say something innocuous like, “When I found out who Keyser Soyze is… man, that blew my mind.” And then whoever you are talking to will go, “Yeah! Totally!” and then will re-enact the entire movie, scene-for-scene to you. You get the information without having to go to the source. If you keep this up, one day you might become a prize-winning journalist.

Remember the last time you were at the video store? Remember how the person selling you the video told you how the movie was totally awesome and how it will totally rock your world? That person lied. That person read the back of the box and then talked with two customers who watched the movie. Suddenly, the video store employee knows everything good about the movie (or at least, enough to sell it to you), and it only took ten minutes.

The flip side of this is to pretend you don’t know what you already know. This ties in with keeping your cool. Be gracious and let the other person talk every once in awhile. Act surprised when you learn that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie hooked up during the filming of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and act shocked – SHOCKED! – when you learn that Paris Hilton made a sex video. This makes people feel smarter than you, and makes them like you all the more.

3) When in doubt, talk about the cinematography.

A sure shutdown I-am-the-King-of-ALL-Things-Cinema move is to discuss the cinematography. Because even though everyone loves the movies, no one cares about the cinematography. (Quick! Name three cinematographers who are not named Haskell Wexler, Conrad Hall, or Gordon Willis.) Just even threatening to talk about the non-special effects visuals causes most people to throw up their hands in surrender to your absolute movie brilliance.

Just try it. Start a movie conversation with the line, “That was a fascinating use of the color red, don’t you think?” Unless you’re talking about the “Sixth Sense” or a Kieslowski film, no one will even attempt to respond.

Currently in the Netflix Queue at approximately the 300 to 400 positions:

  • Baseball: Disc 2
  • Baseball: Disc 3
  • Baseball: Disc 4
  • Baseball: Disc 5
  • Baseball: Disc 6
  • Baseball: Disc 7
  • Baseball: Disc 8
  • Baseball: Disc 9
  • Baseball: Disc 10
  • More Treasures of the Twilight Zone
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide: Disc 2
  • The Twilight Zone: Vol. 40
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  • Paragraph 175
  • I Am Curious: Yellow
  • Ringu
  • Monster's Ball
  • Under the Roofs of Paris
  • The Madness of King George
  • The Twilight Zone: Vol. 41
  • Otello
  • Star 80
  • Talk to Her
  • The Fury
  • Madadayo
  • The Pianist
  • Audrey Rose
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Foolish Wives / The Man You Loved to Hate
  • Children of Paradise: Disc 1
  • Shoot the Piano Player
  • Gangs of New York
  • Pecker
  • Band of Outsiders
  • The Twilight Zone: Vol. 42
  • Children of Paradise: Disc 2
  • Limelight
  • A Nous la Liberte
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • General Idi Amin Dada
  • War and Peace: Disc 1
  • Willard
  • Sister Wendy: Disc 3
  • Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie
  • War and Peace: Disc 2
  • Kids in the Hall: Tour of Duty
  • Through a Glass Darkly
  • The Benny Goodman Story
  • The Andromeda Strain
  • Sister Wendy: Disc 4
  • Sister Wendy's American Collection: Disc 1
  • Sister Wendy's American Collection: Disc 2
  • Sister Wendy's American Collection: Disc 3
  • All That Heaven Allows
  • The Sopranos: Season 4: Disc 4
  • War and Peace: Disc 3
  • War and Peace: Disc 4
  • Cecil B. Demented
  • Pat and Mike
  • War and Peace: Bonus Material
  • Ice Age
  • Nowhere in Africa
  • They Live
  • Pepe le Moko
  • Harvey
  • Enigma
  • The Kid
  • Jeremiah: Season 1: Disc 5
  • Jeremiah: Season 1: Disc 6
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1: Disc 2
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1: Disc 3
  • 12 Angry Men
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again
  • Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony
  • Hiroshima Mon Amour
  • Gaslight
  • The Devil and Daniel Webster
  • The Blues: Disc 4: Warming by Devil's Fire
  • Twilight of the Ice Nymphs / Archangel
  • The Blues: Disc 7: Piano Blues
  • Dark Angel: Season 1: Disc 2
  • Dark Angel: Season 1: Disc 3
  • Stray Dog
  • Mean Streets
  • The Human Stain
  • The Glenn Miller Story
  • The Hills Have Eyes
  • The Lower Depths (Les Bas-fonds)
  • Foxy Brown
  • Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne
  • A Doll's House
  • Carmen: Bizet: Covent Garden
  • Fidelio: Beethoven: Royal Opera House
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth
  • Reno 911: Season 1: Disc 2
  • Swan Lake: Tchaikovsky (Matthew Bourne)
  • Le Nozze di Figaro: Mozart
  • My Son the Fanatic
  • Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
  • The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
  • Underground Railroad
  • The Rutles
  • A Private Function
  • The Bank Dick
  • Two Brothers
  • The Trials of Henry Kissinger
  • The Song of Bernadette
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 3: Vol. 1
  • Fanny and Alexander (Theatrical Version)
  • They Call Me Mr. Tibbs
  • Out of the Past
  • Sweet Smell of Success
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Only Angels Have Wings
  • Frankenstein / Bride of Frankenstein

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