We all look at movies differently. For some, it is a fun time to laugh, eat some popcorn and have fun. Here at the Group Real Estate we laugh about all the ways we love to watch movies. For others it is purely a escape, a time to turn off their brains and just find the enjoyment in the escape. For others it is a menial past time. Something to put on in the background while they do their laundry or get their dishes done. Background noise. For me, these ideas changed when I saw the movie The Departed. I still liked most every movie I was watching, at the time. I think I was in love with the idea of movies, in general. I didn’t take much into the idea of looking at the cinematography, how it was edited together, how it was directed or the dedication to the craft that the actors had to the performance and the script. I also hadn’t met my good friend, Mike, yet. He is even snobbier than I am.
I always watched the Oscars, though, and would get excited when the people I did know won the awards. This changed even more when I went and saw The Departed, as I mentioned before. The Departed is the most non-perfect perfect movie ever made! Martin Scorsese is known for making a master class in film every couple of years. With The Departed, something struck a very different chord with me. I was noticing these fast paced edits as it went from one screen to the next, as there were even certain events over lapping each other, but still, it felt so seamless with how it was edited together. I had seen a lot of Martin’s films before this, but this was the one that really stuck with me. The performances were unbelievable and had so much intensity to them. I had only seen intensity like this one time before, and that was from Daniel Day-Lewis in the movie Gangs of New York (which just so happens to be a Martin Scorsese film, as well). But, my thought process was, at that time, that only someone like Daniel Day-Lewis could do something like that and pull that off. But man, oh man, did The Departed just upend that idea. Every single frame, every single performance was so high octane, it was incredible! Especially Mark Wahlberg, who was nominated for an Oscar for this performance.
Now the normal, cliched movie, has the same old tropes that they always follow. The beginning, the middle, and the end. And they are always easy to predict in the normal movie. Now, when this happens, it is easy to be one of those movies that is just background noise. What makes The Departed so special is it breaks every single mold. All of them are broken in this film. We don’t get the normal tropes, we find ourselves rooting for the wrong guy at points, we are enthralled by the cat-and-mouse feel and speed of the film, and two of our main characters are killed in such fantastic, quick ways that you believe you are dreaming. I remember after it was over, when I saw it in the theater, that I leaned over to my friend and I said, “What the heck just happened?!” I just sat there, as the credits rolled, thinking on what had just happened in the last 15 minutes of the film. It takes you for a ride and it does not let you down easy.
Now this kick-started the snobbery. People ask me why I love to go in and watch for everything, from the direction, to the script and dialogue, the performances, and even the score. This is how I have fun watching movies. Now people chalk up the snobbery to the other side of the spectrum. “Oh, just enjoy the movie!” I hear all the time. Well, here is the problem now. If the direction is off. If the performances are wooden. The score doesn’t fit. It’s poorly edited. It has the same old cliche tropes. That bothers me, just as it does you to watch for all these things, and therefore I will not enjoy the movie. I understand that we all have different tastes and we all watch movies differently. Now, the interesting part of this goes back to The Departed being the most non-perfect perfect movie. Amidst all the technical flaws it does have, because there is so much going into that film, it still hits the spots needed in such perfect array in the direction, the dialogue, the performances, the editing, etc.
I took a Film Appreciation class in college some years later that truly nailed a lot of these down and solidified my love of film on a different level. It taught me to look at the film as a piece of art. This is truly a piece of art that someone is putting together for us to watch and behold. Just as someone would do a painting on matte and hang in a studio for others to truly appreciate, whether they liked it, or not. It was that person’s creation. That is how I look at film. Now, when I met Mike, it was a few years later. I started to pick up on all of this, even more than before, when I started to watch movies with him. We would talk for hours (and still do!) about the films that we just saw. And if they have that master class quality, we are already looking at awards seasons, and by the time they hit, we already know all of the contenders and who will probably win. We get so pulled into the screen, into the art form of it all, that we do nothing but let all of our emotions unleash to what we are watching. I challenge you try and watch your next movie with this eye. Take it all in as a master class piece of art and enjoy each and every stroke. Just make sure you are watching the right painting. 😉