I don’t watch films for fun. I watch them to learn something.
Sure, I enjoy them – the good ones for their quality, the bad ones for their cringiness – but if all I wanted was fun, I wouldn’t watch a film. I’d watch YouTube clips of old ladies falling over at weddings and showing their bloomers, or out-takes from The Office, or even read my Donald Trump poetry book.
Those things would be fun for a while, but they wouldn’t teach me much, and they wouldn’t stay with me like a good film does. Because what films manage to do (and good TV, I should add) is nothing short of magic: They teach me without me even realising I’m being taught. The audio-visual equivalent of wrapping your dog’s worming tablet in a slice of wafer-thin ham to trick it.
I’ve learnt a lot of things from watching films, but perhaps the most meaningful one is the universal lesson that usually comes around two-thirds of the way in:
Just when you think you’ve failed more than you ever imagined possible, you’re about to succeed.
Just when you think you’ve hit your breaking point, you’re on the verge of becoming someone permanently better than you were yesterday.
Just when you think you can’t possibly go any further, you’re about to prove to yourself how wrong you are.
And just when you think the smart and rational thing to do is give up on your quest, you can be sure that that’s just your brain fucking with you. Don’t take it personally – your brain can’t help it. But don’t listen to it, either. It doesn’t know what it wants.
In short: when you think you’re done for, you’re not done for. You’re not even close.