There are very few people in this world who don't enjoy movies — or so I thought. The medium is so widely beloved by the masses — as shown in box office figures and the importance put on film and casting news — it's the art form of the people. But I once went on a date with a guy who, knowing what I do for a living, told me up front he thinks cinema is "a complete waste of time." To me, his nonchalant statement was the equivalent of saying eating or breathing or having sex was a complete waste of time. Needless to say, the rest of the date was a constant struggle trying not to jab my fork into various parts of his exposed skin.
A complete waste of time? Was that a joke? Alas, for this dude, it wasn't. And while this might be an extreme example of something never to say to a cinephile, there are tamer instances of what not to utter in front of someone who loves movies, because at the end of the day, cinema is an important part of culture, and if you claim any differently, well you're just plain wrong.
"Movies Are A Waste Of Time"
Some movies are absolutely a waste of time. But all movies, ever? Movies teach us lessons, help us uncover truths about ourselves, act as a window into other time periods and places, and give us empathy. What other medium delivers these gifts in 120 minutes or less?
"The Book Is Always Better"
This is sometimes valid. Often when a book is adapted to a film, the book is better, for many reasons. Novels contain a whole smorgasbord of characters, plot points, set pieces, and settings. Films contain all of these things too, but on a smaller scale. We can't use the same set of standards to examine a film that we do a book, it simply can't come close to being an exact replica.
When it comes to adaptations, I define success in two ways: Did the film capture the spirit of the characters found in the book? Did the film adapt the same themes and lessons the book was trying to convey? A movie can never be a book, and vice versa. But sometimes it's fun to see our favorite literary characters play out on screen nonetheless.
"Let's see it in 3D!"
This is probably a personal preference, but I for one loathe 3D movies. The majority of films shown in 3D are not filmed with 3D cameras, thus making their adapted format grainy and uneven. Any film shown in 3D not filmed in 3D is a studio begging viewers to hand over an additional 5-10 bucks per ticket. 3D films also appear darker in color than regular films, and to me they're just plain distracting. In my estimation, the goal of an excellent film is to make audiences forget they're sitting in a theater, and 3D movies accomplish the opposite. They're also so much more expensive.
"Just Wait Until It Comes Out On DVD"
Part of the fun of seeing a movie in theaters is being part of a relevant conversation surrounding the film. That conversation has often halted or peaked by the time a movie hits BluRay. Also, any movie I'm dying to see I'll pay to see on a 22 foot tall screen in a plush chair.
"There's No Point In Seeing A Movie More Than Once"
The first time I saw The Lego Movie I liked it. The second time I saw The Lego Movie I loved it. Second viewings offer second chances at hearing missed jokes, dialogue, and enjoying a film from a more critical, and less plot-driven stance.
"It Doesn't Matter If I Talk During The Opening Credits"
I'm a very go-with-the-flow, compliant person. But when I hear someone talking during the beginning of a film in a crowded theater, I take it as my civic duty to tell that fool to shut the eff up. Respect your fellow movie goers, respect the medium, and respect my death glare from three seats over.
"Wait... What's happening?"
I am not going to talk to you during the middle of a movie to explain plot details. Also, see above.
"Movies Are A Waste Of Money"
Where I live, in Los Angeles, seeing a movie can be pretty dang expensive. My favorite LA spot charges $15 for a ticket, and the cost of going to the movies every weekend can add up fast. But if it's a movie you've been dying to see, I'd say it's absolutely worth the big bucks. Like a concert or art show, you're paying for an experience. You can also find Groupons for movie theaters, or you know, make your Tinder date foot the bill (as long as you're willing to pay for the $10 bucket of popcorn).
"It Doesn't Matter If We Miss The Previews"
The previews are my favorite part of going to the movies. And yes, I realize the irony in this.
"Black And White Movies Are Boring"
Making blanket statements about anything will get you in trouble. Black and white movies are awesome. Just look at Citizen Cane, Schindler's List, Psycho, To Kill A Mockingbird, Casablanca, blah blah blah blah...
"Going To The Movies Is Antisocial"
Film is actually one of the most social art forms there is. Not only are you sitting in a crowded room with dozens of other people who share your interest, but you're sharing a uniting experience. You are together watching the same characters, themes, and emotional journeys (God, I hate myself) unfold onscreen. Conversations and opinions emerge from seeing films together.
"I'll Turn My Cell Phone Off After The Previews"
A blinding (albeit tiny) screen in a completely dark room is jarring at any time.
"Award Shows Don't Matter"
Award shows do matter. Award shows matter a lot. They dictate what movies will be seen and accepted my mass audiences, and therefore transform the social and civil changes we see outside the theater. Here's what I mean: When I spoke to Selma star Carmen Ejogo, she lamented the current state of award shows, but she didn't knock their importance.
“A movie like Selma needs that platform," she told me. "The amount of eyeballs is so numerous, is so impactful, it really makes the difference between a movie having a box office success or not. And for a movie like Selma, which itself is a movie that rarely gets made in Hollywood — for so many different reasons — it had to have box office success.”
"Transformers Wasn't A Terrible Movie"
I just... please leave.
"Film Is The Lowest Form Of Art"
Have you seen some of the instagrams and photoshop appropriation that exists in the world? If that's art, film is the Pablo Picasso of the art world.
"Film Criticism Is Obsolete And Doesn't Matter"
This can be argued about any form of journalism, really. Sure, anyone with a laptop and a second grade reading level can be a blogger, but I wouldn't necessarily trust his or her judgement about what film I should see Friday night.
When Roger Ebert died, an appreciated, respected form of film criticism died with him. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are valuable tools in curating critics' takes on films, but there is still value in a researched think piece from a long-time writer, or a well-thought out review that will help you determine to see it or skip it.
Images: Paramount; Tumblr; Giphy