Why You Should Watch That Movie Someone Recommended
Like I mentioned in my last post, I am the queen of recommending films to my friends. As a result of this (as well as a result of the company I keep), I often receive recommendations as well. And I love getting recommendations. I write them down, borrow them, or bookmark the film in my browser. Then, for some reason, I hit a wall. I’d like to say that it’s because of time, but the fact of the matter is that sometimes I’m just not interested in the recommendations that I get. Be it the fact that they’re too far out into left field for me, or a different genre from my typical viewings, or an actor that I make a point to stay away from. It’s only recently that I’ve decided to make an effort and watch every film that’s recommended to me. And you know what? I’m the better for it.
So today, my article serves a plea to all movie fans. A call to arms, if you will, that we will watch those recommendations that we’ve avoided, or shaken our heads, or said “That’s not really my kind of movie”. Because I’m sure we’ve all done it. Whether we just don’t watch gore (guilty!), or we hate anything that features so-and-so. Now is the time to navigate your Netflix into uncharted territory, my friends.
I’m sure you will agree (some of you begrudgingly) that there are many reasons to move outside of your own viewing box. One is that it’s absolutely impossible for you to see every movie in the world, and so recommendations from friends and family act as a kind of filtration system for movies that you should watch. Still, there are other reasons why you should watch the movies recommended to you by others. Here are just a few.
The first Hayao Miyazaki movie I ever saw was Spirited Away, and it had been at the suggestion of a friend. Within the first twenty minutes, I had seen neglectful parents turn into pigs and ghosts appear in what looked like in an abandoned amusement park. Add to that a whiny, pouting little girl, and I was finished for the night, completely confused as to why my friend would suggest I watch it. But for some reason, the actual visuals stayed with me. The animation was unlike anything I’d ever seen. And so, a few days later, I went back and started it again, this time with an open mind. I absolutely loved it, and I’ve seen almost every Miyazaki movie since then.
The bottom line? Movie miracles can happen, and when they do, you might just find something that you actually like, be it genre, actor or director.
My grandmother has seen more movies than I have. That’s not to say I haven’t seen a lot of movies, but when she’s watching two movies a night on account of the fact that she can’t sleep, she puts me to shame. She also has a great taste in movies, so when she suggests, I listen. While the horror movies and the thrillers made nowadays are good, they’d have trouble holding a candle to the original And Then There Were None, an old black and white mystery based on the Agatha Christie novel. I watched it at her suggestion, and it creeps me out to this day. Through the years her recommendations have introduced me to some of the greatest actors around, from Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda to Donald Sutherland and Paul Newman. She’s even introducing me to actors that I know in roles that I don’t (she’s a big fan of Harrison Ford and Anthony Hopkins). And if there’s one thing I like, it’s making new ‘friends’.
Unless you’re the kind of person who has a fixed mindset and is determined to stay that way, movies can be very liberating. Sure, there are the “happily ever after” and predictable films. But more than that are the films that really push one’s expectations, be it through plot, character, or just that basic idea that makes you think “I have got to see where they go with this”.
A good friend of mine sat me down a few weeks ago to watch Gattaca. I had never heard of the film, but it had a good deal of people I enjoyed: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Alan Arkin, Elias Koteas (Casey Jones, to those old school TMNT fans) . It was also written and directed by Andrew Niccol, who penned a favourite of mine, The Truman Show. It was a science fiction film, and she was a science major, but she assured me that I didn’t need a science background to appreciate it. She was right. The film was full of radical and fascinating ideas, all of which I could see as plausible in the future. What if you could genetically choose not only the gender of your child, but wipe out any possibility of it ever getting sick or having eye problems, or heart difficulties? The idea that humans would want this control isn’t as far-reaching an idea as we would think. Watching these scenarios be introduced and then played out made me stop to think about my own life. I’ve had glasses since I was in Grade Three. I went to school with a girl who had a heart defect. Would we trade these imperfections in if we could? Or do they somehow become a part of us, and add to our characters? Movies like Gattaca, or Inception, The Matrix or even The Truman Show, push and poke at our brains and lead us to think of things we never would have considered without them.
Sure, there are a lot of friends who will recommend the same movie to you. As soon as anyone heard I hadn’t seen Iron Man 3 yet, it was immediately suggested that I see it. Those kinds of recommendations are obvious. But when a friend suggests a favourite movie not from this last decade, well, it carries a little more weight and meaning. And it’s in these cases that the movie can serve as a window in more ways than one.
Someone recently recommended that I watch Legends of the Fall, a film about a family of men struggling to separate city influence and past experiences from the bliss of the country. It also features a young Brad Pitt, from a time when I appreciated his acting in other films like Seven Years in Tibet, Twelve Monkeys, and Seven. Now as much as I liked him in those films, and as much as I appreciate Anthony Hopkins in just about everything he does, this was not my kind of film at first glance. Still, I watched the film anyway. I’m very glad that I did.
The more of the film I watched, the more I began to see the parts that my friend would relate to. The men, the situations, the setting itself. All of it lent itself to me and allowed me to form a better understanding of my friend. I could see what he liked about the film, and in turn it helped me to see parts of him that I hadn’t really considered before. It all comes down to that basic connection, that recognition where we watch a film and think “Yep, I’ve been there”. To watch the film, and to try and watch it through their eyes, makes a film much more meaningful in not only appreciating the film, but appreciating the person who suggested the film.
So really, when it comes to recommendations, what have you got to lose? Yes, I suppose you could lose time. But what’s one possibly decent film compared to how many hours you know you spend watching YouTube videos? I’m just saying. The choice is yours.