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February 14, 2005 | by  | in Film |
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Why You Should Watch Films

In trying to think why people should watch films, I decided to go to imdb.com to find out why. Two hours of exploring the site later, I got the horrible feeling that I am one of those freaks who, to make up for their lack of social skills, becomes obsessed with something. Like films. Hey it could be worse. At least I’m not a kiddie fiddler or a fan of Star Wars or anything like that.

But obsessed I am. I can just as easily sit down and watch The Whole Ten Yards (actually I’m not recommending that film because it is rubbish. It is rubbish) or watch a film by Dreyer. I am so passionate about film that it’s pretty much all I want to do in life. Or at least until I realise life is one big crushing disappointment after another and I sell my soul to a corporation. So that’s me. I’m the Film Editor for this fine publication but you can call me “freak”. Don’t actually. I know some actual freaks and it’s not very pleasant. But enough about me. I’m already converted, and I’m here to argue why you people should love films too.

Films are great because they can incorporate what makes so many of the other arts so good – music, sound, visuals, performances, narrative, wank. I could go on forever. They have the ability to completely remove you from your tedious, money-driven life and make you realise that the only way to live is to be money-driven. They have the ability to take you to other worlds – worlds unimaginable to the ordinary mind; of hobbits, of dinosaurs, of men with big cocks and conversation skills (in our world, I hear they’re mutually exclusive), of flying ninja warriors chasing stolen swords and the like. But for those of us who don’t want to escape, film has the ability to show the real world in a different way, to make us think, to challenge us intellectually and creatively. I’m sure I’m not the only one who watches films for these final purposes, though I fear we are a dying breed. Mainly because no one wants to procreate with us.

Films can cover an enormous breadth of reality and fantasy. Documentary can expose the break-up of a family, the sheer tension of a spelling bee or the wrongs and evils of corporations and governments. Hell, even Michael Moore makes documentaries. Or you could see fiction films. Horror. Drama. Thriller. Action. Porn (though I am willing to argue that it uses documentary conventions). Art-film (though that is a bollocks term if ever I’ve heard one). Films where puppets have hardcore puppet sex. Films where grown men eat live squid. Films where memories are erased. Films where high school girls become princesses. Literally, not in a pussy “metaphorical sense”.

Movies function as an important social tool as well. I am not here to bore you about the sociological impact of musicals in Depression-era USA or the Czechoslovakian New Wave and its link to the Prague Spring. As much as I want to, Emily won’t let me, so all I can say is do some research at the library. Or do a film degree. If you’re lucky you might get to study Die Hard.

I mean, what else would couples do for a date? Go see a film of course. How else can a group of males bond collectively without having to resort to rampant homosexuality? Go get some porn of course. What else do you do if it’s cold and wet and there’s nothing on TV? Watch a film of course. Or you could just man up and handle the weather. But I’m not here to condone foolhardy masculinity in the face of the extreme weather. Watch a film instead. How else can you impress someone with your cultured mind and intellect? Probably talk to them. But since that appears to be out of the reach of most people, let someone else do that for you. They won’t know. Talking about film is a great way to fill in conversation gaps (did you know that, on average, conversations last seven minutes before there is that awkward silence? Oh yeah, also read the film pages for trivial, though fascinating, tid-bits of information). It will save you from having to resort to talking about the weather, when you’ve got nothing else to say. Although the summer in Wellington has improved – we’re getting a few sunny days – it won’t last forever. So when it packs in, you can always watch a film.

Wellington is luckier than most places in New Zealand in the number of cinemas and quality of movies (it could be better to be fair, but it could be worse. Anyone from Reefton or Upper Hutt?) [Uh, yeah, I am, the latter. Watch yourself sonny – Ed.]. There is a fine selection of places to get videos/DVDs from and a great artistic buzz that seems to permeate from this city. There is no excuse, barring physical disability. So on behalf of me and my as-of-yet non-existent reviewers (just email if you want to contribute), welcome to the film pages of Salient for another year. May your film-watching be profound and plentiful.

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About the Author ()

Brannavan Gnanalingam has come a long way from being born in the teeming metropolis of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He may be known as feature writer for Salient, but is also the only man in history to have simultaneously donated both his kidneys. He is also an amateur rapper going under the moniker Brantank and hopes to win a Grammy.

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