7 Ways to Enjoy More Movies

What do I watch now?

Ever been in a show-hole? Ever had a really good movie run that ended before film studios could come out with the sequels, three-quels, and spinoff titles?

Our ability to consume movies is much faster-paced than the ability for film companies to produce new films. This can leave you feeling hungry for more movies, with no immediate way to solve the problem.

I decided to share a few ideas today about how you might open up your movie world to include more films; giving yourself a longer runway before you run out of stories to watch. These are tricks of the trade that have proved very enjoyable for me and my family, and hopefully they can open up your world a little bit more as well.

1. Watch Old Movies

The African Queen (Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn), Going My Way (Bing Crosby), Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Ingrid Bergman), Roman Holiday (Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck), Gentleman’s Agreement (Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Jimmy Stewart), Holiday Inn (Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire), The Inspector General (Danny Kaye) Bedtime for Bonzo (Ronald Reagan), The Magnificent Seven (Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson), The Great Escape (Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson) Desperate Journey (Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn) Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), Foreign Correspondent (Joel McCrea, Laraine Day), Never a Dull Moment (Dick Van Dyke)

These are just a few little nuggets of gold in the goldmine that is old movies. A movie being made decades before your birth in no way diminishes its value. Watching old movies can be a delightful way to experience the evolution of films earlier on. You can also get a taste for normal life and cultural mindsets in previous decades. There are endless possibilities and literally hundreds upon hundreds of films available.

I have discovered amazing stories, endearing characters, and a heartbeat in some old films that I could have just passed over. Human beings have not changed in who we are at our core, only our technology has changed. There were compelling stories being told long before the days of green screen, CGI, and high definition.

Don’t limit yourself, try something “new” for a change.  After all, in this day when retro is cool, old is the new new.

Retro

2. Expand Your Genres

Picky eaters and picky viewers have this in common, they have very few options available.

Opening yourself up to new genres can open up hundreds of new movies titles for you to browse and enjoy. Even if the new genres you try are not as dear to you as your favorite genre, you still may find that you actually enjoy a lot more than you thought possible. Keeping an open and non-cynical mind about movies can do wonders for your viewing soul.

3. Enjoy Each Story For It’s Own Value, Not Another Story’s Value

This trick has been incredibly useful in my own family where we have many different ages. It can be hard to find a film that’s safe and enjoyable for everyone. My mom worked really hard to teach us the perspective of enjoying each story for its own value.

This means I can enjoy Cars, The Avengersand the Indian-made film LagaanThey are all across the board in purpose, message, and storytelling. Cars is a sweet and humorous story that is a mix of speed and taking its time. The Avengers is flashy and showy with superheroes, alien invasions, and explosions. Lagaan is hot, dusty, and not even in English-you have to read the subtitles-but it is a compelling story nonetheless.

I have enjoyed each one of these films, because I enjoyed them for their own, individual value. If I used the same criteria for evaluating Lagaan as I did The Avengers, I would be disappointed. Why? Because Lagaan was never intended to be The Avengers, therefore, it will only fail to meet my Avengers standards.

This way of looking at things is actually really useful in life, especially when looking at people. If I judge one person based on the criteria used for another, completely separate individual, I will be disappointed. The same principal applies to movies.

Enjoy each story for its own merits, gifts, and yes, even its flaws. This will open up many more movies for you as you set your expectations accordingly.

 

 

4. Watch Movies You’ve Seen Before

If you are like me, then you already love to watch some of the same movies over, and over, and over again. Not everyone enjoys this, and once they’ve seen a film they may not care to see it again.

Let me encourage you to revisit movies you’ve seen before. It is possible to enjoy a movie the second time through, sometimes it is just about the amount of effort you are willing to put into it. There are multiple ways to enjoy movies again.

Look for details in the backgrounds, costumes, or electronics of the film. Pick a topic and pay attention to it.

Research for a few minutes online for trivia involving the film. Then look for the moments mentioned. I have done this at movie marathons with friends and it gives you an entirely new perspective on the film.

Invite friends over who have also seen the film and keep a running commentary going with them. I love watching movies I’ve seen a million times with friends because you feel the freedom to talk all that you want. This is a really fun way to enjoy a film and relational time with other people. You will have a good time and create memories.

*Who cares if you’ve seen it 11 times, there is always a fresh way to enjoy something. Don’t box yourself in!

5. Just For Kids, I Don’t Think So

So what, you’re 35, 46, 73? I don’t care, try a “kids” movie. The mistake many adults are making nowadays is believing that movies geared toward children are only for children. WRONG! I dare you to watch any Pixar film and have your mind blown.

Children’s films often have soft, approachable layers of storytelling and clear truths that adult movies don’t have. What is simple and understood in a children’s film is often lost in the chaos and complications of an adult film.

Many children’s films are often quite profound and touching. There is a special sense of wonder about them that adult films rarely seem to grasp. There is a reason we remember our favorite films from childhood, because they touched our hearts in a way that changed us. Who knows, you may actually need to hear a simple truth from a children’s film more now than you ever did when you were 7.

Open up your heart, you can still enjoy some Bourne movies while also diving into the delightful world of “children’s” films. After all, adults are just kids a bit older and bigger, right?

 

6. Don’t Be A Critic

Yeah, I know this one sounds a little hypocritical coming from the woman who is running a blog where she analyzes movies. But there is a difference between analyzing in order to understand and engage a story, vs critiquing a story and only looking for the faults.

One can enrich your mind and help you understand stories and people better, the other can make you cynical and jaded. Why? Because there is no perfect movie, and the ones that make the cut as being “good enough” in professional critic’s minds are far and few in-between, even if regular audiences loved the films.

I often think that professional critics must have a hard time enjoying movies anymore. When you are paid to go see a movie with a critical eye, that will soon become the lens that you view everything with. How many caustic and sarcastic critic reviews have you read from professionals? I’ve gotten to the point where I read what normal, everyday viewers thought of the movie before I would read a critic’s take on it. I trust a fan’s perspective more than I do a professional’s.

Granted, I do critique movies sometimes. I find fault with them, and I point those things out. I will even do so many times on this website. But, critiquing is not my top priority here. My top priority is to engage in movies and discuss them through the eyes of a storyteller and a fan.

I never want to lose my joy in movies, be they perfect or largely imperfect. And I don’t want you to lose that either by being overly-critical.

So, did that car chase seem a bit far-fetched? Sure. Were the special FX in that film from 1965 kinda hokey? Yeah, so, what? Put down the critic’s chart and just watch the movie. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable.

7. Chill Out, Lighten Up

This one is really a compilation of all of my previous suggestions. The best way to limit your viewing options is to have a very narrow set of standards and criteria when it comes to what you will view.

Now, please don’t hear me telling you to violate your conscience. I would never, ever do that. When I say “standards”, I am speaking artistically. Here are a few phrases that might explain what I am saying.

The graphics are terrible on that, this was pre-CGI. Forget it!

That would never happen in real life. (This one is so ridiculous it makes me laugh. Dude, what do you think movies are, reality caught on camera after make-up and  costuming?)

I’m too old for that.

No, none of us are going to enjoy everything in every genre. We are each going to develop our own set of likes and dislikes that will exclude some films. But you can open yourself up to many, many more films if you will relax and give them a chance. Will you still dislike certain films after watching them? Of course, but at least you gave it a shot.

We can get too “sophisticated” for our own good, and it is limiting our viewing options and making our movie diet too strict. Having variety is good and healthy for our perspective and for our movie-watching list.

Explore, step out of your comfort zone, make the old new again, lay down the critic clipboard and watch the dang movie! Life is too short to be uptight when you don’t have to be.

Chill out meme

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I hope that these ideas will can help breath a little fresh life into your movie-watching experience. They have worked wonders for me, and I hope that you can also benefit from them. Movies are an amazing and unnecessary gift that we often take for granted. Here’s to the hope that we can all appreciate them more!

So, do you have any ideas on how to enjoy more movies? Have you tried any of these options before? What was a movie experience where you tried something new and loved it? I would love to hear from you.

Like and share! Let’s open up our movie cabinets and our minds together!

 

 

 

 

 

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What Pacific Rim Got Right About Lead Characters

I didn’t see this movie until just yesterday. The news surrounding casting choices for Pacific Rim 2 brought the film back to my attention. I had read feedback saying that the movie was all visuals with poor acting and storyline. I had my expectations set for moderate, but when I actually saw the movie I was blown away.

The visuals were unbelievable. This movie had to be incredible in 3D. Watching the battles between the massive Jaegers and Kaiju gave me a giddy feeling that only the greatest action movie battles can offer. I found the concept of connecting two people through “the drift” to be creative and fascinating.

The music was fantastic. I will listen to that soundtrack again and again.

But the aspect of this film that stood out to me the most was the characters. Yes, the characters. The ones that were said to be “poorly acted”.

Characters are in my opinion, the most crucial part of any film. Why? Because characters are the closest point of connection between a film and its audience. We have thoughts, characters have thoughts. We have struggles, characters have struggles. We have emotions, characters have emotions. A character doesn’t have to be a human in order to connect with us, it could be a little cowboy doll, a dog, or a talking tree.

I have noticed that many action films tend to rely on large explosions and intense gunfire exchanges rather than on good characters. Many action film characters are one-dimensional robots. For the men, they are filthy mouthed robots with muscles and stubble. For the the women, they are also filthy mouthed robots with muscles and chests. There is very little that I find approachable about these robot characters, and I most certainly do not end the movie feeling connected to them.

Pacific Rim could have limped along with action movie cliches for characters. They had visuals, battles, and explosions that were more impressive than most. I anticipated action movie cliches upon going into this movie, but what I found instead was a lovely cast of lead characters who had depth and personality. By the end of the film I felt very connected to them and wished to see more of their stories. Now, on to these surprising characters.

Raleigh Beckett

Raleigh Beckett, a former Jaeger pilot who lost his brother to a Kaiju. At first glance, I had anticipated Raleigh to be yet another muscle-bound fighter with a chip on his shoulder. I was so wrong. Raleigh, while bearing sorrow and scars, was actually about the nicest guy you could meet. He was brave, smart, and the most capable pilot available. But he never flaunted this fact, not once. Even when enduring taunts and slights from young Hansen, he kept a straight face and held onto his dignity.

You got the greatest view of Raleigh’s character when you watched his interaction with Mako. He instantly picked up on her skills and potential, and he wasn’t afraid to speak up for her. He valued her as an equal in their job, but at the same time he treated her like a lady. He is proof that chivalry can exist without chauvinism.

As an equal he believed in her skill, never gave her a hard time when she failed during the first drift, and was delighted to have her on board with him.

As a gentleman, he told her that she looked good in the uniform (which she rocked). When young Hansen was badgering Raleigh and Mako in the hallway following their near-destructive mind drift, Raleigh said nothing about the slights to himself. But the moment Hansen started calling Mako obscene names, Raleigh stepped forward in her defense and gave Hansen a good whooping. I’ll admit, I found that scene incredibly satisfying. And then, as the Gispy Danger was drifting down to destroy the breach, Raleigh made sure Mako got out in her pod first before he worried about himself.

Raleigh and Mako

Raleigh was relate-able in that he readily admitted to his emotions. He was deeply saddened over his brother’s death, and traumatized by the shared feelings he had experienced.

He was brave, stepping up to do a job that was likely a suicide mission. He treated those around him with respect. He knew his skills and was confident in them, but didn’t feel the need to flaunt those skills or prove himself. He was kind and encouraging to Mako.

I would love to see more male heroes like this in action films. Raleigh Beckett was a breath of fresh air. His humanness in no way compromised the strong, effectiveness of his character; but rather, it enhanced it by allowing me to connect with him. I want to see more of Raleigh Beckett.

Mako Mori

Mako Mori, one of the programs “brightest and best”. Mako was everything that I could have dreamed up for a female heroine. She was strong, intelligent, and capable. But the thing that delighted me the most about her character were the softer aspects. She was very feminine, and she carried herself with a sweet humility that was refreshing. She was gentle and vulnerable, her character showed real emotions regularly.

Somewhere along the way, Hollywood decided that strong women characters needed to sterilize their emotions. Perhaps this was an over-reaction and poor attempt to compensate for the over-dramatized emotions women displayed in older decades of film. I don’t care for either extreme, since real women in the real world are a mix of both strength and emotion. I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for some real women characters that make me feel.

I felt when I watched Mako. I connected with her. She wants a chance to fight against the evil monsters who haunt her dreams and destroyed her family. She has worked very hard to get where she is. At the same time, she respects Marshall Stacker Penecost and knows that his negativity towards her involvement stems from love.

Mako wanted an opportunity to fight, but she didn’t insert herself to the point of becoming obnoxious. That’s fine, because her eager willingness is all that she needed to catch the attention of Raleigh Beckett, who went to war for her right to become his co-pilot. This created a fantastic point between the two characters where their separate character threads became woven together.

She didn’t fight it when Raleigh stood up for her, nor did she throw his efforts back in his face like many female characters would. Instead, she accepted it gratefully which gave her character all the more dignity and legitimacy.

Mako was adorable, strong, and endearing. I loved everything about her, from the soft way she spoke, to her blue hair, and her non-air-permitting hug of Raleigh during the end scene. Mako Mori was exactly what a strong female character should be. She was a real woman who I connected with and would love to see more of.

Marshall Pentecost

Marshall Stacker Penecost. He actually fit into a very typical action movie role of the veteran leader with a soft side. I don’t really mind those roles though, as this type of character lends a gravity to the story and creates a reference point for the other characters to revolve around. Plus, these types of characters are usual played by legends such as Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, and in this case, Idris Elba.

I greatly enjoyed seeing (and listening to) Idris Elba in this role. He has a rich and handsome quality to him that is riveting. He wasn’t unnecessarily harsh, had clear motivations for his actions, and the thought of him raising a tiny little Mako was simply adorable. His death at the end of the movie was a fitting and majestic end to his character.

I really have no idea why this movie didn’t do well in the US. There were many moments that just thrilled me in my movie-fan soul. Seriously, watching the Gipsy Danger drag a cruise ship into battle to use as a weapon was so exciting. My life-long movie dream was fulfilled when Raleigh said, “Let’s check for a pulse.” on the dead Kaiju, and proceeded to blast it to death beyond a shadow of a doubt. No one ever makes sure the enemy is good and dead, and it often comes back to bite them in the rear. Future action heroes could use some pointers from Raleigh Beckett in just about everything. The music made me feel energized and excited. The characters were awesome. Oh, and a shout-out to the little girl who played mini Mako Mori, she SOLD that role amazingly. How many kids do you see who can pull off intense emotions like that little lady did?

I am so excited to know that there is a sequel in the works, Pacific Rim 2: Maelstrom. There is very little known about the movie as of yet, beyond the fact that it was just announced John Boyega will be playing the lead. His character will be the son of Idris Elba’s character. John Boyega brought new life to the screen in The Force Awakens back in December, and it is rare that I have connected with a character as quickly as I did with Finn. I look forward to seeing what both he, and this sequel have to offer.

What did you think of Pacific Rim? What aspects of it blew you away? Were there any aspects of the film that disappointed you? What was your favorite moment? Did you also connect with the characters?

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