I love going to the movies. The dark, cozy cinema is my dream place. In fact, I love film so much I teach a class on it—YM 415: Film, Media, and Adolescent Culture! I am a movie buff for all sorts of reasons, and, to paraphrase Gareth Higgins, I believe that “films irritate and heal, challenge and affirm, inspire and sadden. They can give us more life, make us believe in God, tell us the truth about our own existence” (How Movies Helped Save My Soul, xviii). I want to, in this brief space, give some tips for enjoying film and possibly even broadening your horizons.
As you know, we live in a world of social media. Connecting with those near and far has become easier and allows us to “travel” distances with a speed and range that many of us could never have imagined. However, let me encourage you to see that going to the movies is the “mother of all social media” —we hear, see, experience, empathize, and connect with a huge world that we will never fully explore in person. Douglas Beaumont tells us, “We can encounter things through movies that we might not otherwise get a chance to explore. This goes beyond mere entertainment. Movies provide a way to experience a myriad of situations with a measure of detachment that is impossible in real life.” In short, films can open the door to a very large world out there. So, here are my top tips to gain all you can from the cinema.
First of all, go to the movies. Don’t just watch Netflix or another online platform—go! Sit in the darkness, take a break from the world around you, and focus on what is to come. For most of us, watching a film at home is filled with interruptions (texts to answer), taking breaks (“oops, I’d better attend to that …”), and, of course, fast forwarding the slow bits. We must relinquish control and allow the world of the film to move us rather than seeking to stay in our own world at the expense of where the film wants to take us.
With this in mind, my second tip is this: turn off your phone! I know it goes without saying, but it still must be said. The cinema is a world all its own. Enter it and turn off the outside one. Enjoy the stillness, the darkness, and forget about what is going on “outside of the screen.”
Watch the shorts beforehand. What are they “selling”? What audience are they geared towards? Is there a film that you may not have been interested in, but now looks intriguing?
Take a risk! If you live near Moose Jaw, Regina, or Saskatoon (or most urban areas) you have some great options for reasonably priced films. Tuesday evening is often cheaper, making it the perfect time to take a chance and see something out of the ordinary. Did you see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri? Here is a film about hatred and forgiveness, evil and redemption, darkness and light. Certainly worth $6.
Broaden your scope. We now live in the “superhero universe.” While I won’t disparage this, I will say that there are plenty of other options that—and I don’t wish to offend—may be a richer, deeper experience for the thoughtful filmgoer. Take a chance. It may turn out to be an amazing experience.
Here’s a tough one: go see a movie by yourself. Scary? Yes. But you can usually find the late afternoon sessions are not crowded. This can be a great time just to unwind, have some time to yourself, and take your mind off of the distractions of this world for just a bit.
So, what film are you going to see this week?