When I am tired after a day’s work, I open up my browser window and surf to Netflix or one of its illicit equivalents, to imbibe a mindless action movie that allows me to identify with a hero who slays its opponents with moral indemnity and righteousness. It is fast food for the soul, full of sugar rush action scenes and thick graphical extravaganza, clogging the arteries of our imagination.
During these 90 minute pleasure sessions, I am aware I’m wasting my time and would feel empty, bereft of the difficult poetry of the world in which I want to live.
So I decided to change this habit. Every time I feel inclined to watch a Jason Statham or Bruce Willis knock out bad guys, I search for a real movie instead. Sounds cocky? It’s very simple. A real movie wants to tell us a unique story, it is made with the pain and patience of a director who gave their very best. It is a movie that wants to make an artistic statement. Once upon a time, every movie was like that. The movies served to a large audience in the 1930s are often more intriguing than what we would call niche art-house today.
And it works. It takes a little will power to overcome that initial craving for cheap and empty action, but once you are drawn into a real movie, you are feeding your soul. Afterward, you won’t feel empty, you’ll feel better, be more inspired and perhaps crave healthy movies next time.
If you have no idea which directors you should look into, try Ernst Lubitsch, Akira Kurosawa, Lars von Trier, Jim Jarmusch, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, Wong Kar-Wai, Park Chan-wook, Emir Kusturica, Jean Rénoir, Jacques Tati, François Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Charles Chaplin, Orson Wells, Elia Kazan, Sergei Eisenstein, Leni Riefenstahl, Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Michael Haneke, Fritz Lang, Luis Buñuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sidney Lumet, Steven Soderbergh, Alejandro González Iñarritu, Guillermo del Toro, Sam Mendes, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Win Wenders, Pedro Almodóvar, or Sam Peckinpah.