How to Be a Cinephile
If you’re already a big fan of watching movies, you may be wondering what it takes to become a cinephile. A cinephile is someone who is passionate about movies and knows a lot about them. A cinephile should be an educated film consumer with the tool kit to distinguish average films from outstanding ones. Look at becoming a cinephile as a form of education, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an objective and accurate movie critic.
Educating Yourself in Film
Set a goal to watch 100 great films in a year.One way to develop an appreciation for cinema is to watch a lot of different ones. For example, IMDB has compiled a list of moves that all cinephiles should watch.Set up a weekly schedule to make sure you watch this many movies the next 12 months.
- For example, you could make a goal of watching two films per week.
- You could follow the IMBD list, or compile your own list. The goal is to become familiar with many different kinds of movies.
Pick up movies you wouldn’t usually watch.Make sure that when making your list of movies, you select ones you wouldn’t normally watch. This is similar to when you are in school and must read books that you would never have picked out. It is an important part of being a well-rounded cinephile.
- For example, if you tend to watch only romantic comedies that everyone knows about, watch some foreign films that few have heard of.
- Be sure to include films from the past as well as the present. Learning how film has changed over the years also makes you well-rounded.
- For example, the job of a film critic is not to like or dislike a film, but to analyze how well it is executed based on a set of standards. View a film with an eye for criticism rather than personal taste.
Watch important historic films.Just as art majors must study the history of art in order to understand modern art, cinephiles should study film history to gain a well-rounded perspective on modern film. Watching the silent filmThe Great Train Robberycan help you appreciate how much film has changed.
- You should also watch great historic films likeCasablanca,Citizen Kane, orPsycho.
- Take film classes in college or community centers to learn what others view as important historical film.
Understand film eras.There are important eras of film just as there are important eras in history. Understanding film eras can help you understand the social context of each film, deepening your appreciation. For example, the silent film era is important for its differences in sound and cinematography from modern film.
- It is common to study films by decade, such as 1950s films and 1960s movies.
Learn about genres.It is also essential to grasp the concept of film genres. Just as there are genres of great literature, there are genres of film. You might study action films, adventure movies, and so on.
- Other genres include comedy, crime, horror, science fiction, and westerns.
Go to film festivals.Film festivals occur all over the world and offer a wide assortment of movies. You can watch the films in theaters during the festival and discuss them afterward with fellow critics and cinephiles. This is a way to increase your knowledge base in just a few days.
- The Sedona International Film Festival occurs in Sedona, Arizona,and the famous Sundance Film Festival occurs in cities all over the world.
Gathering What You Need
Find movies to watch.Although in the era of instant video streaming it may be easy to find movies to watch, this doesn’t mean that all movies are worth your time. For example, there are about 3.8 million titles on IMDB (including films, TV shows, etc.).Ask friends for their recommendations and look up cinephile lists online.
Have a good computer and TV.You want a good screen with good sound, whether it’s on a TV or a computer. Since most movies you are likely going to watch will be streaming online, it is important to have a computer or device that is able to play streaming videos without a lot of buffering. You can test your device’s video capability by streaming a YouTube video.
- Most computers need an Intel or other PC-based processor and software like Silverlight or the Flash plug in.
- Make sure you have a reliable internet connection in combination with a good player.
Buy a DVD player.Even though virtually every film ever made is available online for instant streaming, that doesn’t mean you have access to it. Having a DVD player on hand is important for increasing your availability because you never know where you might have to obtain a movie from.
- You may want to purchase a DVD player as an individual device that can be hooked up to a TV or computer monitor. Portable DVD players are also available.
- Most laptops and desktops have built-in DVD players.
- Some older movies may only be available on VHS, so having a VHS player may also be useful. Because this technology is outdated, VHS players are harder to find. You may want to look online or at thrift stores and garage sales, even in classifieds like craigslist.
Pay for an online movie service.There are many online movie services that require a monthly fee for unlimited streaming movies. Every service has their limits, which is why you might consider subscribing to more than one.
- Hulu offers a wide variety of films and TV shows, although it is only available in the U.S.
- Amazon is a similar service and is available in the U.S., U.K., and Germany.
- Netflix is one of the most popular streaming programs, but its global reach is also limited.
Get a library card.Many libraries have a DVD collection (or VHS collection). If you don’t already have one, get a library card.You can search for what movies are available on most library websites, then go in person to pick it up.
Rent movies locally.You can also rent movies for a small fee in local movie shops, although stores like this have become rarer as instant streaming becomes more popular. Redbox, a red kiosk available at many convenience stores in the U.S., is often a reliable alternative, but they tend to hold mostly new releases.
Learning to Love Film
Discover that cinephiles love film.Breaking down the word into its parts (“cine” and “phile”), you can see that a cinephile is more than just someone who likes movies. A cinephile is passionate about film. They generally choose to study movies whether they like them or not in order to develop a real appreciation for this industry.
- Greek has four different words for love, and “phileo” is love that is centered around companionship and pleasure derived from friends or objects (or hobbies).
- Although "phileo" is part of the word "cinephile," this does not mean cinephiles loveallmovies. Rather, they have a passion to understand films in general so they can better critique and discuss them.
Realize that a cinephile isn’t a snob.When many people hear the term “cinephile,” they immediately picture a pretentious or snobby individual who bores everyone with their opinions and extensive knowledge. However, a cinephile is not a snob. Snobs define themselves by what they don’t like, whereas cinephiles by what they do like.
- For example, a cinephile is open to discussing all films, and does not demean others for having different opinions.
Understand that movies help you communicate.Not only do movies help you become well-rounded and appreciate what you see, they give you subjects of conversation. On one hand, you have a wealth of experience to draw from in order to start quick conversations with anyone. On the other, you are able to connect easily with other cinephiles.
- This holds true whether you like a film or not.
Appreciate what you like even more.Watching films that you would not usually pick out helps you appreciate what you already like even more. Films are often full of references to other films. If you have seen a lot of movies, you will pick up on these references and appreciate them more.
- For instance, in the 2003 movieFinding Nemo, there is a scene that mimics swarming birds from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963The Birds.
Learning How to Analyze Movies
Analyze movies on your own.In most school courses, you are taught how to analyze—texts, numbers, artwork, etc. This is precisely what you need to do to become a cinephile: watch movies and analyze how they approach different themes and techniques. Once you get used to it, you can become good at quickly analyzing films.
- Analyzing movies can be very in-depth, just like writing essays analyzing literature can be.
- Figure out the theme of the film and break it down.
- Figure out how the film is related to reality, looking not at the discrepancies between them but how fiction and reality interact.
- You may find it useful to watch a movie several times, taking notes on different aspects as you go, in order to become familiar with how to analyze movies.
Learn about cinematography.There are several different aspects of film that you can study. There are actually college courses or entire degrees that focus on these aspects. One important one is cinematography, or the skill of how a movie is filmed.It can include all visual areas of a movie such as camera angles and how close the camera gets to a subject.
- Cinematography also includes lighting, color, or anything that you see on the screen.
- To study cinematography, it might be useful to check out a book at the library or read blogs about it to learn key terms. These can help you know what to look for when you watch a movie.
Find out about directing styles.A director is kind of like a book editor. They take the story and direct the actors and settings to match what they like. You can often tell who directed a movie if you are familiar with their directing style. Study directing styles by watching as many movies as you can find by the same director. Pick out the similarities among the films.
- For example, director Tim Burton is well known for his bright colors and odd main characters.
- Sometimes directors will hire the same actors over and over. Many of Tim Burton's films feature Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.
Read up on animation techniques.Just because a film is animated rather than live action doesn't mean it should not be studied. You can still explore cinematography, directing styles, and elements of acting with animated movies. You should also learn about 2D, 3D, claymation, stop motion, and cel animation techniques.
- You may also find similar themes or images among animation projects by the same director, such as the appearance of the characters or settings.
Study acting styles.You will also benefit from the study of acting styles to help you on your journey to becoming a cinephile. There are many acting methods used today, and some of them are called by the name of the actors who started them, such as Stanislavski's system or Strasberg's style.If you study these techniques, you may be able to identify them in actors in different movies. This gives you a deeper appreciation for the art of movie-making.
- Avoid becoming a movie snob by keeping in mind that movies are your passion and your goal is to spread that passion, not dominate others with your knowledge. Watch the body language of people you are discussing movies with and keep tabs on their level of interest.
- Be careful to read summaries or watch trailers beforehand in case you are sensitive to particular kinds of content. For example, not everyone likes horror movies. If you know you don’t like the way horror movies play out, make sure you turn one on by accident.
Video: How to be a Film Buff in 10 Easy Steps
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