The other day, while fighting a cold, I was in a NyQuil fog. I needed to rest, and there’s no better way to rest than lounging on the couch with a movie. But not just any movie will do. I pried open the treasure chest of cinematic delights on my DVR, and found… a flood of foreign and silent films. The mood wasn’t right.
You see, I’m a firm believer in giving films the best possible chance at success when you watch them. If Mel Gibson’s just done something that offends me (which happens a lot, but I digress), it’s probably not the best time to check out Mad Max for the first time. The other day in my NyQuil fog is the perfect example. My brain wasn’t clicking at full capacity. Whatever I watched, there was a decent chance I was going to fall asleep watching it. And whatever I did manage to see before passing out wasn’t going to find fertile territory in my skull.
This happens all the time. Every June and July, I’ll load up on French films in anticipation of updating my list of the 50 best French films. By the time August rolls around, I’m completely burnt out and not in the mood for more French films, at least not for a month or two. I’ve been watching loads of classic American comedies lately, and it’s put me in the mood for comedy. But I hadn’t updated my Facets queue, and wound up receiving Truffaut’s The Soft Skin at home. Now… it was a fine film. But it was hard to choke down because I simply wasn’t looking for a Truffaut film at that particular moment. And unfortunately, now I feel like it was much more difficult to watch than it actually is. To be blunt, I owe it a fair re-watch. The first viewing didn’t do the film justice.
Sometimes I’m in the mood for horror. And when that happens, it would be completely unfair to try, say, an indie film. Sometimes, I want to catch up on the previous summer’s blockbusters. That’s precisely the last time I should be watching a Hammer horror. If I’m in a crappy mood or if I’m stressed out, why bother with a comedy? “I didn’t laugh once”, I might say after seeing it. Of course I didn’t laugh. Life intervened.
Of course, this is a two-way street. If I want to give any film, any genre, any director the best possible chance, then I’ll watch them Saturday morning. It’s part of my weekly routine. I don’t usually watch movies on Thursday precisely because I’m saving them for Saturday morning, when I can wake up to a nice bright weekend sun and fire up something entertaining. It’s the best part of my movie-watching week.
Mood is so important for a film. A bad or ill-fitted mood can make you think that a great movie is average, and average movie is bad, and a bad movie is torture. The right mood, the best-fitted mood, will set you up with a chance for the best movie experience.