An extended musing on falling in love with films

An issue that came to my mind while writing this entry (specifically after viewing film #123): when was the last time I ‘fell in love’ with a film? It’s got me pondering not only that, but also what caused me to ‘fall for’ the films I do like? Was it the critical reaction as much as my personal opinion? The in-built notion of This Is A Good Film making sure I liked it?

I don’t think that’s quite true: I was certainly aware of the high praise for films like Pulp Fiction or Fight Club (both of which I adored from first viewing) when I saw them, but I’m sure there was something more to them that impressed me. Certainly, there are films I’ve enjoyed to a similar degree where my awareness of its wider praise has followed later, such as Donnie Darko or Children of Men. By a similar token, there are films where I knew of the praise, such as Memento and The Departed, and still didn’t come to love them.

It leaves me wondering if, as I grow older, I’m less prone to being swayed by received critical opinions and finally just judging films on their own merit; or, possibly, I’m so eager to try to have my own thoughts and to therefore avoid things that I’m not taking them in the right way? It’s a very self-reflexive question and consequently a hard one to answer, especially as all opinions on art are so subjective anyway.

As for the issue of films I’ve ‘fallen in love’ with, the issue is slightly complicated by a division between Entertainment Films and Proper Films (I use these terms loosely, for the sake of this argument). To use some of the same examples, I would class all the films thus far mentioned as Proper Films (we can already see the line blurring as they all certainly have high entertainment values too), whereas things like Pirates of the Caribbean or Serenity are more clearly of the Entertainment variety. Handily, I have a list of all the films I’ve seen in the past eleven months, so I can see what I may’ve loved in the past year.

And, indeed, there are some. Under the Proper banner we might find the likes of Mean Creek, Brief Encounter, or, probably most of all, United 93. Under the Entertainment heading there could possibly be 300, Stranger Than Fiction, or, undoubtedly, Hot Fuzz. But it can be tricky to designate the difference between “liked a lot” and “loved” — there were several more films I nearly listed, but then just wasn’t sure.

Indeed, how much I love even the ones mentioned, and even more so whether they rank amongst films I’d call all-time favourites, is a complex proposition. When does “liked a lot” become “loved”? In the past, the likes of Se7en, Apocalypse Now and Magnolia, as well as one or two others mentioned earlier, easily jumped straight to the top of my favourites list after just one viewing… but then maybe I was just young and impressionable. Or maybe I wasn’t as easily persuadable as I seem to think, and I’m just still waiting for something to capture me the same way they did…

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