The critics have spoken on 2012 and the big award shows we all know and love have passed for the moment: Oscars, Golden Globes, People’s Choice, Critics’ Choice, Spirit Awards, SAG. The box office might not be waving a proud flag for wonderful films at this very moment and the stars have temporarily parted to work on other projects, retire, start a fashion line or fragrance, or perhaps follow Paltrow’s suit and do something a little different like write a cookbook. Who knows what they’ll be up to, until the tabloids or E! News tells us, but there are other ways for avid movie-lovers to keep the spirit of film alive and our senses keen on what’s going on in the industry, Hollywood and beyond.
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Here’s where it’s wonderful to be easily intrigued by the details. If you see a film that blew you away and had an unfamiliar face, look up that face. If you see two films by the same director, find out what else he or she might have done and add it to your Netflix or get it OnDemand. The mighty Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has it all. It’s not the only source, but if you want the who’s who and what’s what, it has almost every link or turn to bring you to the answer. But get curious. Look up literature elsewhere, read a biography, see what other credentials mean (what’s that award?), expand on what you know to integrate what other professionals recommend, and explore your taste. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and find out you like some sci-fi after all. There will always be more amazing and interesting things out there for us to find out.
2. VISIT A LOCAL THEATER, ON PURPOSE
Simply, if you’re looking to go to the movies and can’t bare to stay home another minute, grab a paper or most likely a computer and see what’s playing at your little town gem (lucky if you have one). Drive your and a friend’s butt over to support it, even if you don’t recognize a single title (Oh wait, there’s that computer again to give you a synopsis or better yet, to show a trailer). Chances are there’s a film in another language or an independent title your friend is skeptical about, or even a Hollywood wonder or oldie but goodie. The important thing is to expand horizons, support what’s local, and know that there’s more out there than large entertainment groups with obscenely over-priced concessions.
3. PICK UP A COPY OR SUBSCRIBE
The New York Times, ELLE, Vogue, TIME: the list for the general reader or picture-page-turner is huge but it happens to further include some fabulous and specialized ones that anyone interested in the film community can read up on. Perhaps not as widespread on every newsstand, but there is some really nice literature out there, like Film Comment for example, a bi-monthly magazine put out by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in NYC with an amazing overview of the current atmosphere of film here and around the world with reviews, ratings, look-outs on festivals, and more. Also Filmmaker Magazine is a great snag for something a little more technical with focuses on certain aspects of the process. Buy a copy where you can or reach further and subscribe to one. It’s good to get in touch with good old fashioned reading from time to time, and always better when you can find something you especially like.
4. GO THE DISTANCE
It can be difficult and expensive, but if you ever find the time and the means to go out and visit a city or even another country for a film festival, there are so many to choose from and much to gain. From Tribeca and Woodstock to Toronto and Sundance, and further to Venice and Cannes, these are where so many of the most amazing films hail from and get their first notice. Over time these films often move forward from World Premiere to U.S. to East Coast and other and possibly can reach wider audiences at national theaters. If not a big budget Hollywood film or the like, a film’s success largely builds from the festival circuit and much credit goes to the people and towns that make that happen. Not to mention attending can just be a blast where heaps of screenings, Q&A’s, networking, meet-and-greets with professionals, and celebrations take place. Basically, magic happens.
5. VISIT ANOTHER SOURCE
When it comes to getting your hands on a movie, there are ways and ways, and then some other ways, too. Many libraries have movie collections and the perk is that it’s free. There’s Redbox, Video On Demand, Netflix, or borrow from a friend or co-worker. And consider companies that are often hidden from audiences, which may distribute, produce, or otherwise emphasize another way for the viewing process. Film Movement, a foreign and independent film distribution company in NYC, is an example. They release one or more new films every month that have either succeeded in festivals or caught an eye. With some of the greatest films you might ever see, it’s an amazing place to branch out and brave the subtitles. Found in some libraries that have subscribed, you can also view a number of these titles on VOD or subscribe to their DVD-of-the-month club that brings the film right to your door. Better yet, there’s a short film on every DVD. When there’s a will, there’s a way. And it’s worth it.
6. REMEMBER WHY IT’S SPECIAL
Probably the most important tip in keeping up with the film world is remembering why you love it. So pick up a handful of your absolute favorite movies and make a point to re-watch them, for the tenth or hundredth time. You’ll feel again how timeless they are for you, how they bring memories to surface and always re-inspire something in you that makes you feel some sort of confidence or love that puts life back into perspective. Movies are wonderful things, so until the next Academy Awards, strive to hold onto what you loved about it in the first place, and enjoy.