Jul 20, 2014
Anyone who ever brings up the subject of movies know I’m a geek. I don’t just talk about how awesome a movie is, I discuss scenes, actors, photography, editing, writing and the occasional dolly grip work. I can see 2 seconds of a film and in most cases tell you what movie it is if I’ve seen it before and on occasion even if I haven’t. I watch action, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy and horror along with drama, foreign (and not just Asian), classic and even experimental. I enjoy bad movies if they’re fun, I LOVE great movies even when no one can understand why. And I’m not alone.
Film geeks, like most of geekdom, are misunderstood. We are either seen as those people who worship at the altar of Spielberg and Jackson and love anything mainstream, especially in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror genres. Or we are seen as those stuck up snobs who require their movies to be obscure and brooding. Every film must have meaning, usually on concepts of death and/or misery. And there are those who are like that and have every right to enjoy those kinds of films specifically. But most film geeks can easily enjoy both the popcorn flick AND the more serious, themed fare. We can watch classic F.W. Murnau silent films, then jump into a Peter Jackson saga. Film geeks love various entertainments.
Yet many geeks seem to dismiss classic and art house movies in a way that is rather disappointing. They expect either state-of-the-art filmmaking or a nostalgia that brings them back to the wonder of their childhoods. They refuse to look further and see a wide array of worlds that are out there. Familiarity is always the enemy of innovation and refusing to look at the past means to ignore things that might be prevalent in the present. Take Network, a film about the dumbing down of news in order to appease the masses want for distraction. Sound familiar? Or 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film that not only created the template for science fiction films ever since, but has challenged audiences with its non-expository storytelling.
Geeks also need to understand that many of their favorite genres were originally art house (niche) fare, especially in the case of science fiction. Most studios found that such films and shows were only meant to indulge the fantasies of young boys (sorry ladies, they didn’t even think about you back then). Most science fiction movies were made of shoestring budgets meant only to be seen on screens targeted to that demographic (mainly the drive-in theaters). Even now, the horror genre thrives due to its constant need for innovation to create new scares on very limited resources, which is why many of Hollywood’s A-list filmmakers came from such genres.
One of the things that I have heard from self-proclaimed geeks when it comes to independent and classic film is that they don’t want to be bored by lifeless, self-important storytelling that gives absolutely no entertainment. This is a valid argument because for every good film, there are a ton of bad ones (check your local Redbox if you do not believe me). But that’s not always the case. In fact, films like Oldboy, Pulp Fiction, even 2001 required that people take a leap of faith and watch something completely original and be able to spread word of mouth to become as recognized as they were. Mainstream movies don’t need nearly as much due to the constant marketing required to get interest involved. If you’re not certain that something is for you, watch a trailer, read a synopsis, or simply find someone you trust and ask them.
Geeks, by definition, should be about discovering the new and appreciating both the good and the bad, and not just film geeks. Geekdom is and should always be about appreciating the variety that life gives. There have been over 100 years of films, some that are not as appreciated as they should because of their age. Buster Keaton’s comedy is on par if not more spectacular than Jackie Chan (fact: Chan’s inspiration comes from Keaton). Ernst Lubitsch’s comedies are some of the wittiest and sometimes sexiest films ever made. If you don’t believe me, watch Trouble in Paradise. If you thought The Thing was awesome, watch the original It Came From Outer Space. If you want something disturbing, check out Michael Hanneke’s Funny Games (not the American version). If you want to see something uplifting and genuinely happy, try My Life As A Dog or Amelie.
I started Arthouse Legends wanting to not only talk about movies that mainstream geeks might not know about, but to stir conversations about these films and others, to open minds to new possibilities and to show that these old or indie films are not simply for the snobs or the chic. That we can talk about them and love or hate these films on their merits and not what others deem them to be. If I have encouraged one person to try a new film, even one I personally don’t like, then I consider the aims of the podcast a success. I am a geek trying to talk to my fellow geeks, hoping you see that art house and classic films are as much geek as giant battling robots and space ships. They take us on a different journey, yet equally as exciting. And I hope you can join us in the conversation.