"I saw it with my mother when I was nine, and I didn't like it," the young woman next to me said. "But last night I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. watching it." She was talking to her friend about 1986's A Room with a View, the splendid Merchant-Ivory period piece. "Tim Burton's wife [Helena Bonham Carter] was in it, but she was all young. Daniel Day-Lewis was in it, too, but he was playing an awful character." Although I didn't intend to listen to their conversation, I'm glad I did. We were all waiting to see The Crazies, Breck Eisner's horror remake of George A. Romero's original thriller, and the woman was hopeful and excited to see that too. In short, she appeared to be open to seeing all kinds of movies.
Too often, moviegoers seem to clump into camps: I only watch romantic comedies; I stick with horror; I gotta have my action fix; I won't watch anything made after 1950; I won't watch anything in black and white; I won't watch anything with subtitles. To some extent, we're pushed that way by modern media, as niche marketing gets more and more specific. Go to Netflix or Amazon, search for A Room with a View, and suggestions for other similar, period dramas may pop up as recommended choices for you, as determined by computer algorithms. The computer won't recommend The Crazies.
Don't get me wrong, I love exploring the depths of different genres. I love horror and science fiction, and write or have written for both of Cinematical's sister sites, Horror Squad and SciFi Squad. I appreciate the intense focus presented by writers who know their genres. But if all you watch is horror or sci-fi or rom-coms or docs or indies or blockbusters, you miss out on the joy of discovering something you didn't think you'd enjoy, something you might have ruled out from consideration. Pushing the boundaries, or eliminating them entirely, can be liberating, enlightening, and entertaining.
As a high school senior, I was shocked to discover that a black and white movie from the 30s could make 1,500 teenagers laugh almost continuously (You Can't Take It With You). Some friends were amazed and spellbound by a cool thriller -- even though the actors all spoke German! (Run Lola Run) That's the kind of happy accident I'm talking about. The joy of being open about movies can be very rewarding.
What about you? Have you been surprised that a movie you'd dismissed in your youth now makes you stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch it? Discovered that a romantic comedy could make you cry? And so on. Please share your experiences.