Hello everybody and welcome to the University of Warwick! During this week you will meet many new people and you’ll be making your best small talk to show everyone how relatable and friendly you are. One easy topic to discuss is films. Everyone you meet will have seen a film in their life at some point, and they may even have an opinion on said film. Of course, there are some people who have seen more films than others, and everyone’s taste in film is different. Hence, to help you in your quest to make friends, we have given you a guide on how to navigate your way through every conversation about film you have!
How to blag your way through any art-house conversation
“Korean brutalism? French new wave? Italian neo-realism? Please stop, the only foreign films I can name are Parasite and Studio Ghibli’s filmography!” No worries! While we here at Boar Film have a lot of love for these movements, we also have (admittedly less) love for all things Star Wars and Marvel, the ‘movements’ that have their own significance. A good way to blag your way through these conversations is to be able to name foreign directors and actors who have been in English-language films. Think Mads Mikkelsen, Nicolas Wending Refn, Ang Lee, Bong Joon Ho, Alfonso Cuaron.
If you have ever managed to look up what foreign films they have done, you’ll have an arsenal of films at the ready for you to casually name-drop whenever. It also helps to be able to name some of the all-time greats. Tarkovsky, Goddard, Melville, Bergman, and Chan-Wook are all great names to produce in a conversation. If anyone names one of their films, just say you watched it and forgot about it or just agree with whatever they say, and if they ask for your opinion, just remix their words back at them. The skills you develop by blagging here will be invaluable when it comes to lying about doing a seminar reading mid-seminar to people who have done the reading – including the seminar tutor!
How to spice things up with hot takes
Hot takes are opinions which are generally thought to be unpopular, for example I believe that the Star Wars franchise should have died after the Holiday Special aired on TV in 1978. You may have some unpopular opinions, but this does not necessarily lead to you then being an unpopular person (take it from me). Hot takes can be a fun way to really test a future flatmate’s nerve in a conversation, and to be honest, this is a great way to see how much you can get away with leaving a mess.
Of course, while everyone loves a good hot take or three, no one particularly likes the person who thinks they are so cool because of their bold opinions. This goes for conversing about films, any sort of culture, or any subject for that matter! Give out a hot take little and often, enough to look like you have a personality that exists outside of general consensus, but not so many that you look like someone fishing for a reaction. Leave the latter for anonymous WarwickFessions posts. Once you master the art of the hot take, you will want to pair that new-found important skill with the next point to truly master the art of disagreeing with someone in a polite manner, a skill more people should probably cultivate.
How to disagree politely
Recently I saw Submarine and I thought it was awful. However, when meeting a best friend’s new housemate (living together in a wonderful house of two), the film was brought up in conversation. It came time for me to try and stop myself blurting out something along the lines of “it’s tragically bad” and ruining the current mood as well as the house-of-cards that was this wonderful new tangential friendship. I completely failed at this task and ruined the mood.
On reflection, the best way to navigate the fact you did not like a certain film which a new friend really liked is to lay out your (hopefully) well thought-out critiques first after perhaps giving some light praise to the film, just making it look like you’re vaguely compromising. Leave out excessive use of expletives or negative adjectives, a task which is difficult at first, but doable eventually. Unless you do nothing other than watch films, there are going to be other topics and disagreements in your life that you feel very passionately about which others may not feel so passionately about. In the same way that compromise and reason need to shine through in your film arguments so that you do not look unlikable, so too must your arguments about greater issues affecting our society.