Welcome to the Arthouse: Cinema Vs. Joe Schmoe

So, I watch a lot of movies and I’m fortunate enough to know people who are willing to watch a lot of movies. I’m a fan of mainstream movies, and I have my favorite popular actors and actresses. I like it when things blow up, and will gladly put on 3D glasses to watch a horror movie because it will feel like I’m in a freaking cage whenever the guys on screen are next to chain-linked fences. Sometimes I like going into a movie knowing what I’m going to get and coming out of it feeling content.

But once you’ve seen that bunch of movies, you start to stray a bit. You start looking forward to no-name actors/actresses, foreign movies, silent movies, old movies, musicals, and all that crap. You start sifting through “Rotten Tomatoes” just to see what’s fresh and what isn’t. You care about what top critics have to say and whether their little blurbs are at least interesting, even if the content isn’t positive. The best thing about watching movies from the fringe is the conversation that follows them, because “who knows what that movie meant.”

Now I’ll admit, I’m not a film major. There are plenty, if not the majority, of films a film major could namedrop to me and I’ll just agree passively and nod my head (my stock reaction to everything else when I don’t want to be shunned). I don’t know the difference between holding a camera at a 60-degree angle or a 65-degree angle. I’m often not sure what the point of keeping a camera focused on someone’s eye for 15 minutes is. But hey, I can guess, can’t I?

I love using words like “cinematography” and “anachronism” nonchalantly. I absolutely love small theaters, especially when they’re cheap and play movies that are in limited release.

But man. Some of these movies suck.

I’m all for introspection but how much longer can I watch this girl look for her dog? Two more hours? Seriously? This is supposed to be one of the best movies of the year? These anemic storylines are often the boring stuff movie fans watch, probably because of glowing praise from other people who a normal person, let alone a movie buff, wouldn’t be able to tolerate in casual conversation. More often than not, when we watch an “arthouse film,” we’re stuck watching one person wander around a neighborhood in complete silence, and we’re expected to sit there and digest it because it might be one-of-a-kind stylistically. Yeah, sure.

I have nothing against people that enjoy these type of stand-still movies that have very few characters and very little obvious development. I do occasionally enjoy these movies, when I can somehow find myself relating with them, or if the film is just brilliantly executed – but in general, I’m often left scratching my head. I don’t mind that they exist, of course, because I’m sure they’d find their crowd, but shouldn’t certain critics limit their review to a very specific audience?  The fact that little blurbs that make a complicated movie sound like a must-see are now widely available to Joe Schmoe, who’s just looking to be entertained, seems like a bummer to Joe.

These films should have tags on them that say “WARNING: NOT FOR REGULAR PEOPLE.”

The next time you’re renting a movie with a homie, and let’s say you kids are the type that like dramatic stimulation – don’t just read the dazzling phrases on the front of the box. Critical acclaim never guarantees you’ll leave a movie satisfied.

Take a glance at the plot synopsis. It probably helps if you’re a little familiar with an actor, or the director, or the screenwriter. But if you’re an adventurous type, go for that random arthouse movie. Take a dive into the personal life of that sexually frustrated little boy that fills his time staring at highways. Consume yourself with silent existential suspense. Find life in the little, little, little things that you’d never bother recognizing otherwise. Think about the different ways a scene should’ve been shot 30 minutes after that scene ended.

Good ol’ artsy cinema. What an intriguing waste of time.