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lights! camera! boot camp!
a beginner's guide to classic film by Diana Goodman |
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continued from page 1

You will need: 
1 Video Store Rental Card (Lackluster Video will do for the first few steps, but they're terrible for non-new-releases, and besides, they edit content to their liking. Boo!)
1-2 Buddies with whom to work through the steps 
1 Film Snob for offsite consultations (Avid viewers of American Movie Classics or Turner Movie Classics count. Extra credit for befriending an independent video store owner/clerk.)
1 Video Guide (Videohound, Ebert OK. Leonard Maltin, bad.)

Optional, but recommended:
1 place to watch movies interruption-free. Nowhere with your roommate wandering around in his underwear asking if the milk smells funny to you.
1 combination Russian phrasebook and Bible, $50 in rubles, $50 in gold, 1 pair of nylon stockings, 1 issue of prophylactics.
1 copy of "Dr. Strangelove" to get above joke.

For our purposes, we're defining classic films as everything in black and white, everything foreign except Hong Kong action, and everything made before 1977. Film fans in the audience will balk at this preposterously wide definition, but like I said, this is for beginners with little practical experience watching movies whose original release predates their birth.

Step 1 | Admit to yourself you just don't like 'em. This isn't easy. Some of you might have to work for a while. Some people will find a category they don't like (musicals, black and white films, westerns, Bergman films, war dramas…); others will hate anything longer than the intro to Metal Gear Solid 2. For others, the issue is culture. Our society considers some things high culture and some things low culture; classic movies tend to get lumped in with high culture, meaning liking them is considered something smart, classy, cultured people do. So there's a certain amount of guilt attached to not liking them. The first step to healing is admitting there's a problem.

Step 2 | Give some reasons you don't like them. They're slow. They're boring. There aren't any good car chases. The effects suck. Everyone overacts. It's black and white. Everyone talks really phony sounding. They wear silly hats and use stupid slang. They never go anywhere. They keep singing. You don't get what the big deal is.

Step 3 | Shock treatment time. Time to go watch an "old" movie. We're going to start easy: Pick something from the late sixties or early seventies. Make it American, in color and an action drama. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or The Great Escape are good starts. 

Watch your movie with one or two buddies only, without distractions. A crowd can lead to mass heckling. Talk about what you liked about the movie. Talk about what makes it different from a movie released today. Talk about how Steve McQueen is The Man. Could Will Smith ever be Steve McQueen? Could Mel Gibson? Yeah, didn't think so.

keep marching, there's more!

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