Musings on film recommendations | The Velvet Café

recommendationDo you recommend a lot of films to your friends? And do you follow the recommendations your friends give to you?

In this post I’m going to write a bit about recommendations and what value they have or don’t have.

Against film recommendations
I recently got into a discussion on this topic, when a Swedish science fiction fan I know since many years argued against the value of giving or receiving recommendations of books and films.

He compared it to the fights you could have as a teenager, arguing about which rock band was the best one. According to him, this is a rather pointless thing to do, since it’s a matter of taste anyway, and the same goes with movies. He asked rhetorically in which way a book experience becomes better because someone turns out to like what you’ve recommended to them. Isn’t it even a case of piggybacking, where you steal a bit of the glory from the author (or film maker) since you were the one who “discovered” and recommended it?

From recommending science fiction books to everyone he knew in his youth, my friend has gone so far as not to recommend anything to anyone. Occasionally he writes articles where he celebrates Virginia Wolf, because he’s such a fan boy, but he doesn’t give a damned about if his friends read her or not. Equally he never gets anything recommended to himself. He doesn’t read reviews and he’s so sensitive for spoilers that he doesn’t read cover texts. His priority list is composed out of his own mind, based on previous experiences and general knowledge.

Creating a bond
My response to this was that I think book and film recommendations can be like putty, which brings people together. It can build or reinforce a friend or love relationship, depending on how it’s given. Of course this is on the condition that it’s not just a dogmatic statement that you throw out to any person you meet, regardless of age and preferences: “You have to watch movie X, because it’s the best in the world”. But assuming that you give your recommendation with afterthought, after considering what kind of movie that person probably would like, it’s something that I’d regard as a gift. It’s not quite as a mixed tape, but almost.

And how wonderful isn’t it if it turns out that someone else shares your love for that odd little movie that no one else seems to like? The bond that is forged by this gives at least me a nice and cosy feeling in the stomach.  Someone linked me a quote that is supposed to come from Edith Nesbit in the book The Wonderful Garden:

There is no bond like having read and liked the same books”.

Of course it doesn’t mean that the entire friendship should be based on that you like the same book or film. But it’s quite a nice door opener.

Movies as a filter
Some people take this very far though, using movies as a tool to decide who they want to befriend. Like this comment that I found about the movie High Strung  (which most of you probably never have heard of; it’s the favourite of one of the members of the Filmspotting community, unfortunately he had troubles finding someone else who shared this love.):

“This film is very revealing. If you enjoy it, you’ll know what I mean… you’ll have shared it with dozens of friends- some will get it, some just wont. This is a roll-on-the-floor-laughing film for me, and for those close friends who share my sense of humor. For those who just can’t find the humor in it, good night and good bye. Also, you might try this one out as a “filter” of sorts for people you’re dating… don’t want to consider getting serious with someone who just doesn’t share your spice for life and all things satirical.”

Speaking for myself, I can’t think of any movie or book that is so important to me that it would be a deal breaker for a friendship. But on the other hand I don’t frown upon suggestions from other people about movies to watch. Actually it’s one of the reasons why engaging yourself in the blogging community is so rewarding. What is it if not a big, glorious party where we trade our best recommendations with each other?

Looking for recommendations
If you after reading my blog for a while have an idea about a movie you think I should watch, please go ahead and tell me. My to-watch-list is certainly frightening long already, but you never know when an opportunity turns up and it would be a shame to pass on an excellent movie out of ignorance about its existence.

Right now I’m especially looking for recommendations for up-beat films. I’ve got a terrible cold and I could need something to make life feel a bit easier. What movies do you watch when you need revitalization?  Please share it over a cup of coffee. I promise I’ll not sneeze on you.

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