So, you enjoy movies, watch them regularly and feel ready to take the next step. That’s right, you don’t just want to be a movie buff, you want to be a movie snob. You’ve seen those shiny boys and girls, hanging outside the local multiplex, spouting on about Kurosawa or Mise-en-scène and you’ve thought to yourself, ‘I have no idea what they’re talking about but it sounds impressive. I want to be in that gang!’

If you missed the first part of my handy guide, and frankly I can’t blame you since I wrote it in what seems like 1974, you will find it here. Read and then come back. Don’t worry, we won’t start without you…

Okay, so you survived the first part. Hopefully you’ve had a bit of time now to practice your disapproving snorts, revise your directors and hone your French. Already people are looking at you with a newfound contempt! You are on your way, my friend. You are now ready for the next part of your epic journey.

 

Lesson 6 – Correct Home Viewing

The aim of any good Movie Snob should be to take the home movie-viewing experience and refine it to match the cinema experience. In fact, by removing the ‘other people’ factor home viewing can be a vast improvement on going to the cinema. No more queuing, fighting for elbow room on the arm-rest, listening to inane chatter or enduring the endless crunching of those many nachos that weren’t softened by the miserly drip of salsa topping.

Now, while it is understood that the full home cinema set-up, including wall-mounted screen, surround-sound system and a member of the family selling ice cream and popcorn in the hallway is beyond the budget of most, there are certain guidelines which the Movie Snob can embrace even without the expensive gear.

1) Lights Out
Do they leave the lights on in the cinema so you can sit there reading a magazine while the movie’s running? No, Sir, they do not, Sir, and neither should you. Just because you didn’t pay through the nose to see this movie doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get your full attention. I don’t care if you turn the lights on two hours later to find several sticky popcorn kernels between your legs, which then have to be removed with a chisel. Put the damn light out.

2) Everybody Shut Up 
Speaks for itself really, which is exactly what everyone in the room shouldn’t be doing. Gag them if necessary, but since enraged grunts can be just as distracting it might be better to procure some melatonin pills to slip into their tea beforehand. Off to la-la land, little Movie Plebs. Bless.

3) Assume the Position
It is vital that the Movie Snob reject unseemly angles when arranging his or her seating for maximum viewing pleasure. There is nothing worse than watching a movie at a neck-stretching angle, so that everyone on screen looks like they’ve been on some ridiculous diet. Perspective is nothing in this case. Face the screen, nicely centred, no turning of the neck required. Use a ruler if you have to.

 

Lesson 7 – Remakes Suck, Even the Ones That Don’t

As a bona-fide Movie Snob, it is your job, neigh, your scared duty, to rage against the Hollywood remake of foreign cinema with all your might. Yeah, we know some of them are actually pretty good, although not many, but that’s really not the point. You are requested and required to decry Hollywood’s sloth, indolence and fetish for pinching other nation’s ideas at every opportunity. ’Not as good as the original’ shall be your motto from this moment forth. Say it loud and say it proud. In fact, say it in Japanese with subtitles.

 

Lesson 8 – Cinema Etiquette

You are a Movie Snob in training now, my eager apprentice. Movies are your religion and the cinema is your church. Your trips to the Great Temple of Celluloid Worship are now to be treated with the appropriate levels of reverence, solemnity and tedious sycophancy. Fun? Fun! Who said anything about fun?

Just follow these simple Do’s and Don’ts (or thinly disguised list of my pet hates) and you’ll soon be sucking the joy out of every Saturday night at the movies.

DO arrive at your seat before the movie actually starts. The last thing people want to see as they begin tucking into their overpriced, lukewarm snacks is your saggy ass clumsily squeezing past them while you mumble half-hearted apologies, blocking out both vision and sound. Just a thought.

DON’T bring a packed lunch. It’s bad enough having to deal with the overpowering smell of soggy nachos, overcooked hot dogs and human people, without adding egg sandwiches to the mix. Picnics are for the park. And if you have to stuff your face, please do it quietly. I came to watch a movie, not feeding time at the zoo. Why is it so necessary to shovel as much food and drink as possible down your gullet simply because you’re watching a movie? Do people guzzle popcorn at the opera? No, Sir, they do not.

DO put your phone away. Come on, are you kidding me? You’re in a darkened room, moron. Do you really think no-one is going to notice that little light come on, bathing your vacant face in a murky glow while you pointedly ignore the movie, everyone around you and all good sense so you can tweet about how cool the movie you aren’t watching is?

DON’T give away the ending to everyone within range of your voice. You know the type. Leans over to his/her companion and announces what everyone will find out for themselves in about sixty seconds. Why? Why are doing that?  You’ve seen the movie before. That doesn’t make you psychic, or smarter, or in any way impressive. Do you feel some need to prove that you can remember stuff? How these people make it out of the cinema without a stretcher is beyond me.

DO leave the toddlers at home. Do you really imagine that your two-year-old or, God help us all, your baby is going to sit quietly and attentively watching the film for two hours? Have you run mad? I didn’t pay those ridiculous ticket prices to listen to your mewling little cabbage gibber and drool while consistently kicking the back of my chair. Can’t you just put some food in a bowl and leave them at home? Jeez.

DON’T be tall. I’m sorry, but if you’re over six feet tall then you should be banned from cinemas. There should be those height guides like they have on fairground rides, except you can’t ride if you’re over a certain height. Or maybe a seating area arranged especially for tall people, with tiny little chairs where their elongated bodies and massive heads won’t get in anyone’s way except each other’s.

Living the dream…

Am I being harsh? Therein lay the fun! Here endeth the lesson, my friends. If you have any questions, comments or outraged exclamations then please leave them below. In fact, I would prefer outraged exclamations. They brighten my day!

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So, you enjoy movies, watch them regularly and feel ready to take the next step. That’s right, you don’t just want to be a movie buff, you want to be a movie snob. You’ve seen those shiny boys and girls, hanging outside the local multiplex, spouting on about Kurosawa or Mise-en-scène and you’ve thought to yourself, ‘I have no idea what they’re talking about but it sounds impressive. I want to be in that gang!’

My good friend, you have come to the right place. In two parts, Celluloid Zombie is going to impart great wisdom upon you and teach you how to blag, bluff and manipulate your way to Movie Snob Supremacy.

Lesson 1 – Know Your Directors

Take any movie, and an accomplished Movie Snob will usually be able to reel off the credits like last week’s shopping list. For the Snob, it’s not enough to be able to remember the title of a film (something that is often beyond the casual viewer), they have to be able to tell you who was in it, who wrote it, who scored it and, of course, who directed it. All with an air of insufferable smugness (see more advanced lessons).

This skill can take many years of total immersion in the field, and an equal amount of years of total exclusion from the real world, so the trainee Movie Snob should simply look to acquire a good working knowledge of directors as a solid grounding. And this means all directors. It’s simply not enough to know that Spielberg directed E.T. or Hitchcock directed Psycho. That’s like calling yourself a music expert because you know who sang Heartbreak Hotel.

Acquaint yourself with names like François Truffaut, John Ford, Frank Capra and Akira Kurosawa. Wikipedia will probably give you enough nuggets to bluff your way if you can’t be bothered to actually watch the movies. And remember, don’t forget those titles!

Lesson 2 – Use Some French Words

No Movie Snob’s arsenal is complete without a barrage of pretentious and mostly unnecessary French. Learn these words and phrases and then sprinkle them liberally in your conversations about cinema to demonstrate just how worldly and cosmopolitan you really are:

Oeuvre
The stuff that a director/actor/whatever has done.
Example: ‘Are you familiar with Capra’s oeuvre at all?’

Rite de Passage
The journey someone goes through to go from being one thing to another thing. Usually applied to teen stories.
Example: ‘16 Candles is an engaging rite de passage story’ (even if it’s not).

Mise-en-scène
What a scene has in it. The visual landscape of a scene or its components.
Example: ‘Hitchcock uses his mise-en-scène to denote the fragmented nature of Norman Bates’.

Dénouement
What happens at the end.
Example: ‘Sinking ships turn me on so I only watched Titanic for its dénouement’.

Lesson 3 – Stay for the Closing Credits

A true Movie Snob never, I repeat NEVER, gets up to leave the cinema during the movie’s credits. They remain seated until the lights turn on and the usher ambles in to sweep up the discarded popcorn kernels and half-eaten nachos. The truly dedicated may even still be there when the next lot come in.

To the Movie Snob, leaving as the credits roll is a heinous act of gross disrespect to all the Grips, Best Boys and Assistant Third-Unit Director’s Assistants who have worked tirelessly to bring you your latest celluloid fix and ask only that you remain seated for a few more minutes so you can see their name roll slowly up the screen in sans serif, white text. What’s wrong with you? Can’t you hold your bladder a little longer? It’s all me, me, me with you, isn’t it?

In addition, it is also important to adopt a series of disapproving noises and looks to aim at those inferior individuals who do choose to vacate the premises prematurely. Tut-tutting, heavy sighs, and exasperated shakes of the head are all excellent methods for communicating your disgust. Until the target of your disdain turns around and looks at you, of course. Then it’s time to start actually looking at the credits. Avoid eye-contact. The last thing you want to do is explain your disapproval to some 280 pound guy who’s desperate for the toilet and just forked out a small fortune to watch a shit movie.

Lesson 4 – Cultivate the Correct Shit-List

It is vital as a Movie Snob that you navigate the treacherous minefield of acceptable taste while in public. Sure, you can enjoy Bad Boys II in private, but some pleasures must be kept under wraps if you are to be taken seriously as one of the elite. So, from this moment on, you no longer publicly endorse the following:

The Wayan Brothers
Ben Affleck (the actor)
Paul W.S. Anderson
Michael Bay
Star Wars Episodes I-III

However, you are actively encouraged to publicly endorse the following:

The Coen Brothers
Ben Affleck (the director)
Paul Thomas Anderson
Michael Mann
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI

Lesson 5 – Learn to Read Subtitles

Repeat the mantra after me; ‘subtitles are my friend, subtitles are my friend’. It is no longer acceptable to say things like, ‘I can’t read and watch at the same time’ or ‘they go too quickly’. Never again can you wait for the US remake, just so you’ll have the luxury of being able to take your eyes off the screen for more than five seconds without missing vital plot points. Fix your gaze screenwards and do not deviate until the final credits are rolling. And watch those too, remember.

If you are to become one of the anointed, you must embrace movies that don’t come with American accents, product placement and uplifting dénouements. It’s time to venture into foreign lands.

Come back later for part two of my pointless post! Or not.

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