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A quick guide to having interesting conversations about movies

Let’s talk.

A few weeks back, I was on a podcast and used some of the time to discuss one of the worst movies I have seen this year. The writers of the film reached out to me and told me I was “some guy that watches movies”. They included a cute gif to visually show me what a geek I am. And you know what? They are absolutely correct. I am literally just some guy that watches movies. The only thing that differentiates me is…well, nothing.

As things begin to open up and more people head to theaters, now seems like a good idea to drop some tips on talking about movies. For many, it has been a long time since they have actually gone to a theater to see a movie. This means, it has also been some time since they have had a chance to share their thoughts and theories on the most recent blockbusters. People are probably a little rusty on what to say and how to say it. If you follow the tips below, you should be having productive talks about the year’s best and worst movies.

Listen to the latest episode of the AIPT Movies Podcast!

(This is by no means an inclusive list, but it will help you be recognized as some rando that watches movies.)

Only people with no opinion of their own unironically use the term “hot take”

A quick guide to having interesting conversations about movies

Each day, people throw around the term “hot take” like currency. (This seems to have decreased in recent years.) In reality, there are maybe a dozen hot takes a year. The definition used to be defined as a quick response meant to gain attention. Somewhere along the way, it morphed into a more thought out response meant to troll or just go against popular opinion. In short, it became a way of justifying something you really do not believe in. Here’s the thing: disagreeing with others with carefully planned arguments is not a hot take. Those are simply opinions that provoke reaction. A real hot take would be something along the lines of “You can be racist against white people” – and even then it would depend on circumstances.

It’s okay to not agree with popular opinion…

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Screenshot/YouTube

It is always difficult to be the lone dissenting voice. This is especially true in today’s world of “what about” and uninformed labeling. As hard as it may be to say you dislike Marvel movies or think Ellen Ripley is a weak character, if that is your honest opinion, then run with it. Yes, most people will look at your strange and you will be asked to justify what you just said, but that is okay. Besides, it is not the echo chamber of agreement that makes talking about movies fun, but the different ways people have of looking at things. You may read one hundred reviews and all of them may go against what you think, but that does not make what your ideas any less important.

…unless you are being contrarian

A quick guide to having interesting conversations about movies

Marvel

Of course, if you are disagreeing just for the sake of it, then you are wasting everyone’s time – including your own. Saying your do not like the MCU just because you are surrounded by people who love Loki is not even good for a laugh. Even worse is when you have become so wrapped in the joke, you actually start to believe it. This leads to nonsensical comments like “There’s not a lack of strong female characters! What about Ripley?” Using a character from decades ago or odd terms like “forced inclusion” shows a lack of awareness brought upon just because you thought it was funny to be a contrarian.

Avoid echo chambers and toxic environments

A quick guide to having interesting conversations about movies

We all know people who use protests as photo ops or post on their Instagram story a donation they have recently made. It is pretty silly, but it does make some sense. It is human nature to want to be accepted. One easy way to do that is to agree with what everyone else is saying even when you really do not. An simple way around this is to simply nod your head in agreement. Many people feel it is necessary to continually add more points to an argument that has already been made. It is fun talking about the films you love with people, but if it is the same opinion reworded in 17 different ways. I get that Brokeback Mountain should have won the Best Picture Oscar; I don’t need to be surrounded by people who keep aping that sentiment and liking each comment they all make.

It seems like common sense, but avoiding toxic environments is much easier said than done. Without knowing it, you may even be the cause of it. A fulfilling conversation about film (or really, anything) is going to point out some differences. This is natural and should not only be expected, but nurtured. After all, it is our differences that make life interesting and not the things we have in common. It becomes a problem, when the discussion becomes a series of one upping. Inevitably, this will lead to personal attacks in the guise of movie critique. This will lead to one of two things. People will either think it is pointless to voice their opinion or the group will end up talking over each other and nothing gets heard.

No one is wrong

A quick guide to having interesting conversations about movies

Everyone looks at things differently and is entitled to their opinion, This includes the moments when it makes no sense to you. Keep in mind, there are some genuine thoughts you have that others will passionately disagree with. Some think that Forrest Gump is, at best, the fourth best movie of 1994 while others think it is one of the greatest films of all time. Both opinions are valid, but some people will spend hours trying to explain to someone why their feelings on something is incorrect. What’s worse is that this browbeating will sometimes work. It is one thing to rewatch Isle of Dogs and realize it is not as good as you first thought. It is something else entirely to be verbally worn down into believing it is a great film.

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