Free Film School #134: Curing Movie Fatigue

Welcome, my dear students, to the 134th week in the Free Film School. Your epic film education will be handled deftly and attentively at the fingertips of CraveOnline‘s own Professor Witney Seibold. To date, we have discussed elements of film history, the aesthetics of film, the technicals of filmmaking, the careers of a few important filmmakers, and examined entire genres from zombies to musicals. I have likely cited hundreds of titles throughout the course of your classes, and even if you’ve been good students (you, uh, have been doing the homework, right?), you’ve probably only seen about a fifth of the film’s I’ve recommended.

The fact remains that there are just too many movies to see. Indeed, CraveOnline’s own Fred Topel recently wrote an editorial addressing how the overwhelming volume of films, and the myriad ways in which they can be consumed in the digital age has long since reached a critical mass, and the option of not seeing certain movies might now be one of the more practical options for your average film fanatic.

What’s more, if you’re the type who likes to keep up will all the new releases, you may come to the conclusion that the vast bulk of all films that come out are – I suppose by necessity – average. The bulk of what you consume in theaters will be Hollywood fluff and mindless entertainment. Then, while you’re contemplating the morass of plainness and middling distractions, the Oscar news hits, and you feel a new pressure to get those good ones under your belt. My own truth: even if I weren’t a professional film critic, I would still try to see all of the films nominated for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and all four of the Best Acting categories.

It’s January, and you’re busy trying to fit Oscar nominees under your belt, all in an atmosphere where Hollywood is taking out their trash. It can be a little overwhelming. Indeed, it can lead to a classical film critic syndrome: Movie Fatigue.

Every good cineaste, film fanatic, or just regular film-goer has most certainly experienced what I mean. The point where seeing movies seems less like a pleasurable activity, and more like a chore. Even if you’re going for pleasure, going to too many movies can feel like work. In more extreme cases, cynicism may even begin to set in, and one may be tempted to start hate-watching movies, looking at every film as something to tear apart, regardless of how good it is. No wonder the notion of the “cranky critic” had proliferated so widely across the internet.

In my darker moods, I have succumbed to movie fatigue, so I understand what you have been through. On certain January days, when I have to see three or four movies in theaters over the course of a 12-hour period, and then go home and watch one or two screeners, I can feel like I just ran a marathon but without the exhilaration. The details of the movies begin to swirl together, and the experience becomes dizzying. No filmmaker has, I assure you, intended their movie to be seen sandwiched in between two others. And while you, dear students, may not ever have to take on such a heavy movie load, I’m sure that the ennui has sometimes crept in around the edges on certain marathon weeks.

But fear not. I’m here to offer some curatives for movie fatigue, for both casual movie fans and for longtime professionals. If you take some of my advice, you may find yourself loving movies again, and redoubling your enthusiasm for our chosen medium of obsession. And sometimes the cures are right in front of us. The world of films is vast and textured and deeper than you have ever experienced, no matter how experienced you are, so it’s possible to find a gem in your fatigued digging, and re-realize why you love this stuff.