“Actually it’s pronounced ‘eye-gore'”
When you listen to auteurs like Aaron Sorkin, Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese talk film, they’re so passionate about the subject. They practically jump in their seats from the excitement of talking about the writing process or why their favourite films are so good, constantly dropping in morsels of interesting information from their encyclopaedic brains as if it was nothing. That, in a nutshell, is one of my most envied traits. It could well be that this article won’t resonate with anyone reading; I really don’t know if I’m alone in this conundrum. But it’s something that’s plagued me throughout my entire confidence-lite life. How do you talk about film casually yet knowledgeably, passively yet passionately, without sounding like a pretentious douche?
I’m sure it’s not wrong to assume that if you’re here reading this, you know I love talking about movies like Sheldon Cooper loves talking about trains. One of my favourite activities is going to see a film in the cinema before grabbing a coffee to chat about it with whoever I’m with; a chat which inevitably forks off into a wider discussion of movies, TV and general entertainment-related business. I’ve often fantasised about starting up my own film “club” as a place to share ideas and theories with like-minded cinephiles; a place to debate passionately about a film, director, writer or actor or wax lyrically about some powerful cinematography, impressive story structures or interesting character arcs. Not that I’m trying to say I’m some kind of guru (put me in a room with someone like Tarantino and he’ll school my movie knowledge ass in two minutes), but I just love getting into a deep conversation about film because it’s the one subject I actually know some stuff about. I love astronomy and history too, but I could hardly just sit around and chat about them with any kind of expertise.
I’ve always pushed back on the idea of starting said club because it sounds a bit too much like some kind of boy scouts gathering (and I wouldn’t actually call it a “club”). I just want to be in a situation where I can talk a little bit in-depth with a few friends who love film as much as I do (and, dare I say it, start some kind of website/podcast. But that’s fantasy #2).
But I still hear you asking where the “pretentious douche” remark comes in. Let me explain. While “douche” may be a step too far, it’s a feeling that derives from my own personal experiences when the subject of film pops up in every day conversation (feelings which are a reflection on me, not the ones I’m with). For example, if I’ve been watching a movie with people who maybe don’t know as much about it as I do (because that’s what I’m really interested in, not because I’m better than them), someone might ask “Oh who is that? I recognize their face”. Most of the time when I actually answer (if I know the answer), I just weirdly feel like I’m being really pretentious.
Me: “That’s Oliver Reed.”
Companion: “What else has he been in?”
Me: “Well, he was in this really eerie film called The Devils back in the 70s, it’s probably one of his best performances.”
That particular conversation is fictitious, but it’s one I’ve had before. I’m only sharing what I think’s interesting and relevant, but if said companion has never heard of The Devils I can’t help but feel like I’m being a complete douche. Like I’m only mentioning an obscure film I know they haven’t seen so I can feel superior. So far from the truth, but the sad thing is, a lot of the time I don’t even bother speaking up because of that fear. It’s like being back in school and being too afraid to raise my hand because all the other kids will think I’m a know-it-all. I’ve had the same experience so many times because of my own lack of confidence, like sharing some trivia while watching Scream and pointing out that one of the reporters asking Sidney (the film’s protagonist) for a remark is Linda Blair, the little girl from The Exorcist. Instead of being happy that I shared an (I think) interesting tidbit, I feel washed with that same weird embarrassment for pretending I know what I’m talking about.
Another example is if I’m describing an actor who was in a certain film, do I use their actual name or just the name of one of their famous characters? If I say “…it was David Morrissey”, my companion might say “Who?”, then I feel douchey. If I say “…it was the guy who played the Governor in The Walking Dead“, my companion might say “Oh, David Morrissey”, then I feel either patronizing or like an idiot.
It’s a viscous cycle.
I should reiterate that this is no reflection on the people I’m with in these situations. It’s usually friends or family who have never once called me on my paranoia, because why would they? It all comes down to my own insecurities that sound even sillier when written down. And I guess a lot of this could just be down to my sometimes hilarious inability to articulate effectively, but I figure if I’m building a career with writing I can probably get by.
But does anyone else share such annoying hindrances? Or do all you cool people drop effortless knowledge bombs before moonwalking out of the room?