Back to IndieWire

For The Love Of Movies… Can We Talk?

For The Love Of Movies... Can We Talk?


We’ve all seen them. Movies that make us feel. Movies that stoke our adrenaline. Movies that make us think, or wonder. Movies that shock us. Movies that surprise us. Movies that inspire us. And movies that make us ask questions like, “Can someone really make soap out of human body fat?”

Above all, movies are meant to entertain. We all want to leave a movie behind with a feeling that we’ve experienced something that everyday life can’t offer. Escape. Vicarious thrills. Insight on a grander scale. Fear, without the danger. Enlightenment. Catharsis. But at day’s end, no one wants ninety or more minutes of their lives wasted by the experience (or do they?).

The film-watching habits of the masses are, despite attempts to quantify them as demographics, as varied as the human race itself. And speaking of race, what of film-watching among peoples of African descent? As many point out here, we are not one monolithic race (except maybe when it’s time to vote for the black guy). Everything in our lives is informed not only by background, education, socio-economic status, location and other variables but also by factors such as parental influence, peer pressure and even the use of mind-altering substances. It’s no different with film.

The question I would like to put forth, first to the full-time staff writers of S&A and then those to whom they would pass the baton is this: WHAT KINDS OF MOVIES MOVE YOU? AND WHY?

The word “movie” is loaded so, to quote the POTUS, let me be clear. Horror fans are moved by a film which scares them and crawls under the skin for days after. Fantasy fans are moved by a film which stretches the limits of their imaginations while providing inspiration for real-world adventures. Romance fans are moved by films in which love conquers all, including cynicism. Documentary fans are moved by how fact, or some variation of it, can be stranger and stronger than fiction.

This conversation is open to everyone, but I’m looking to the most involved members of this community to speak up first – and loudly! – regarding their own experiences with movies. 

We often pitch battles, in the Comments section and beyond, over what kinds of movies are valid/ necessary/ classic/ artistic/ exciting/ worth-the-money, etc. and what kinds are exploitative/ mindless/ low-brow/ inessential/ boring/ fluff, etc. But I suspect that the reasons among us for watching movies, while affirming certain commonalities, are as myriad as the stars.
And worth sharing.

This Article is related to: Features



Thanks Adam for writing this article….I was hoping you would when CC put it out there for my own selfish reason: I wanted to know who really cared about movies enough to have a dialogue about them. Although there are about 3 people missing that I thought I would see here, I was intrigued with the few that did take up the challenge.

And can I say Tambay let loose a fly ball right out the box?

Anywho, its all good in the neighborhood. This has allowed me to let go some of the anger I have with many of these 'posters' because – well – they post to stir it up. It sure isn't about the love of Black Cinema.

To piggyback off of another poster, movies sometimes show me a new paradigm, a new way of doing things or looking at something, ….it allows me to take part of something I had not thought of, seen, been or done. It allows me to relive and grieve the past, imagine the future and shine a light on the present. Or it allows me to temporarily stop beating myself up, halt negative thinking, or just plain and simply…..waste 2 hours so I can take a deep breathe and relax…to watch someone else get the short end of the stick and see how they go about holding on.

That said, let me – with all the lateness that I let elapse – notate several of my favorite movies. These are not Oscar or even Golden Globe worthy, but they have a certain -UMPH- that spoke to me, for whatever reason I won't/may not disclose. :)

The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh: This was my intro to basketball and I dare anyone to tell me that watching Dr. J play ball would never evoke emotion. I had my first girl crush with the future Shug Avery, GREAT music, dancing and magic of how a movie can make you FEEL. If you haven’t seen it, it came out on DVD over a year or 2 ago. You have no idea how happy I was because my VHS tape and VCR needed to retire! First of three movies I know every word too.

The Warriors: Fascinated me with my place of birth, bad guys, drama and big ruby red lips – Lynn let me know early what was up!

Pretty Woman: The ultimate where you are is not where you need to stay and you can tell your story by the clothes you wear. How you act authenticates or refutes it.

Coming to America: Pure entertainment about taking a risk and following your ———-. Second of three I know every word to.

Boomerang: All sorts of Black beautiful people doing it large. Nuff said.

The Color Purple: Our history is ours, filled with pain and laughter, disappointment and triumph. It is royal and rich as the color purple…..and we should own it and use it to propel us, not tear us down. Third of three…..

Memento – I adored the way this story was told and I would have never guessed the ending/beginning. This movie blew me away with its creativity and the fact that I did not know who dun it until they revealed it. Like The Usual Suspects.

Kinky Boots: Chiwetel Elijofor, high heeled shoes and learning to like and trust yourself, your voice and recognizing family isn’t just biological and both have value.

Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail – the play, not the movie – Music, relationship, trust and ad-libs and telling of men’s secrets. Ahem, oh yeah…and eye candy.

Eat, Pray, Love – I haven’t figured it out yet. It is speaking to me though.

The Incredibles – Everyday people who was called to give Extraordinary service. And it is animated…..and I have loved animated movies from then on :)

Any Bruce Lee movie – The reason why I fell in love with action movies.


ALL movies move me -BUT – the devil is in the details! AND, I'm 'bout to 'splain – WHY.


What kind of movies, move "me"? And why?

Well, for me, it's multifaceted, and it's all about emotions. Having said that, it behooves me to take the long way home.

Those who have been following along know that I suggested, encourage, poked and prodded Adam into writing this post. To a certain degree my reasoning was selfish (I'll get back to that).

Yet, I was hesitant to comment because I had to asks myself, what was "my" purpose in doing so. Was I again moving a personal agenda? Well, to a large degree that is true. But let me go back to fill in the blind spots of my admitted selfishness.

Short answer: "Answering your question was a bit of a catharsis. It's good to remember why you do it." ~ Adam Scott Thompson

Therein lies the root of my selfishness. If I can continually remember why "I" do "it" (whatever that "it" may be) I've come to believe that "it" can be the catharsis which soothes my soul. As that pertains to movies and the query "What movies, move me? And Why?" I have to go back a little bit further.

As I've said many times (and I'm gonna say it again *smile*) I, like everyone who has been caught in the pounce of life's struggles; that which makes us question our existence, I have managed to maintain my love of watching movies as a form of escape. Not only do I escape, movie watching affords me the opportunity to visit emotions, sights and sounds – much like reading books – that I may not have otherwise experienced.

See, many years ago I was addicted to narcotics. Yep, I was one of "them" folks. Year after year, although I was trying to get up off the ground, I kept falling down, time-n-time again. To that point, I am reminded of the words of one of S&A's frequent visitors "taking constructive criticism into account is not the same as being shown a better way of doing things. TP needs a mentor that is trustworthy and respectful [and has been down his road… and knows what Tyler needs… and knows how to precisely convey those needs] If I do not know "how", no amount of criticism … will make me into a good [anything]". She went on to say "In fact, I dare to say most people do not really listen with two ears"…



In my struggle I heard all the name calling and the ambiguous suggestions of "get off the ground… look what you're doing to yourself… stop doing those drugs… you're not only hurting yourself, you're killing your family". Yes, I heard the criticism/critics (and to a large degree they may have had good intentions) however, as the reader implied, I may have been listening with one ear and to the wrong voices. So, I had to find out why "I" do the things "I" do and who I needed to ask for help. Lord have mercy, that path lead right back to "ME" and my inner conscious. Cont…



See, I used narcotics to block my emotions. At an early age I bought into the ideology (the habit) of KNOWING ( I repeat, OF KNOWING) I could use a substance to change whatever emotions I was feeling (and they work EVERY TIME). So if I was serious ( I was) about ending my self-made prison, I had to take on the never ending journey of figuring out how my emotions affect me. Having gone through that horrible soul searching experience (i.e., admitting that I was wrong, I don't know, I am hurting others beside myself… and I need serious detailed help, etc) I now find myself sharing "What kind of movies, move "me"? And why?" Listen, I know humans do not change their entrenched beliefs and habits until their backs are against the wall. In most cases, it has be proven that they will die rather than "switch". But it's my hope that someone, somehow, some day, will listen to my struggle, take a look deep inside themselves… and then with heartfelt sincerity, ask themselves the question "why do I really do the things I do?"

Anyway, I've notice many have said they like movies that make them "think" and those that "challenge" them. Well, I am not trying to be mean-spirited, but I view those words as woefully ambiguous. I mean, the begging questions are "think about what?" and to what degree are they being "challenged"?

Anyway, let me get out of this post before I wear out my welcome (if I haven't already done so *lol*). In light of our many discussions on the intricate nature of the non-monolithic world of the black audience, I suggested to Adam a couple of working titles to this post… "The Black Audience Is Comprised Of Who? Don't Ask My Neighbor – ASK ME!" And, "I's The Babies Daddy. No, I Da Pappy. No, I am The Father Of That Child". The "Father" represents YOU ( each reader at S&A) and the "baby" represents your opinions, likes and dislikes. However, that title may have been too Jerry Springer-ish for this blog. So he put his stamp on, his post.

Okay, I am being a bit sarcastic, playing on the notion that many believe Shadow and Act is reserved for "critical film" watchers only, when in fact, as their header states; their goal is highlighting cinema of The African Diaspora… nuff said.

In short, it was my hope that your comments would help burn down that ugly quilt blanket that many throw over the black community, dispelling the notion that all black folks fell from the same apple tree. Come on now, who has not grown tired of repeating, and repeating, and repeating and explaining the same trite phrase "We are not a monolithic group" who may not enjoys that which my neighbor finds enjoyable?

Finally, Adam said, "I grew up watching whatever my mother watched — mostly horror and sci-fi (although I never acquired her love of fantasy). Tick-tock, the beat don't stop – Adam, now 30 years old said, he saw Star Trek: Into Darkness with his die-hard Trekkie mother and they both enjoyed it. What? They can’t be, black folks don't – like (nor support) – anything – other- than – comedies.

Lastly, I have to say this one more time because it captures my complete sentiments in the context of this post. "We [I] support black folk that do what we [I] like, say what we [I] would say, look like we [I] would look, feel like we [I] would feel, stand like we [I] stand, lie like we [I] lie, marry who we [I] would marry, and on and on and on. "



willie dynamite

Movies that move me are the kind that provoke some kind of emotional reaction. I also like films that take twists that I don't expect. We as an audience have seen so many different films that we try to guess what will happen before it happens. It is so refreshing to be proven wrong. I try to enjoy a film as well the first time viewing a film. I try to listen to my gut, and usually my gut knows if a film will be good in the first 5-10 minutes.
Shawshank Redemption because it shows just how far you can go when YOU believe.
I Saw the Devil – it showed how quickly we can become what we despise
Carlito's Way – Loyalty can and will get you killed.
Sixth Sense – That film will always be in the top five, the twist with Bruce Willis' character, and the scene when the boy tells his mom that her mom was proud of her. Every child wants their parents to be proud of them.
City of God – the cinematic execution of that story and its ability to tell multiple stories, and give all these characters heart
American films in trying to appeal to the largest common denominator can get lazy at times so there are some diamonds internationally, The Secret In Their Eyes, and Even The Rain to name a few are great films that have great story, performance, and execution.


MAN ON FIRE It was on last night. If I didn't have things to do, I would of watched the whole thing. Here Denzel doesn't want to get to friendly with the girl he has to protect and during the course of the movie, he creates a great friendship with her. When she is taken, he goes out on a all out assault on everyone responsible. This is where Directing, Acting, and Writing came together and Tony Scott will be missed…

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE Put aside that her husband is in prison and you see what a great story this is. When Ruth tells Ruby to hold her head up, I almost broke down with her. Emayatzy Corinealdi deserved a oscar nomination for that role. And the ending in slow motion and that kiss. No director could of made a scene so sensual and beautiful then that. Except Ava.

AMOUR was powerful. I love foreign films. I watch them as often as I can. French, Spanish, Italian…
Here is a story that could star us black folks. An elderly couple. Their daughter. Only a few main characters. A compelling love story. One opening shot of a classical piano performance. A 'usual' director would have the camera at the piano. Not Michael Haneke.

An intelligent love story with poetry and jazz. Made sixteen years ago?! Where have all the cool black writers gone?


WHAT KINDS OF MOVIES MOVE YOU? AND WHY? – the kind of movies that make me think. they move me because they make me think. basically any movie by tarkovsky or antonioni and any filmmaker influenced by those filmmakers. also action movies move me because they are actiony; especially the action movies with a high level of drama and perhaps a deeper level intensity for the sake of message…something like Looper or Rise of the Planet of the Apes. likewise, scary movies move me…from my seat because they are scary (if they are any good and few scary movies released in the last decade have been).


Ok, I'll bite. To be brief, what's actually interesting in my case is that the more I've learned about cinema, the less I'm a fan of it. I know that probably sounds strange, especially given that I write about this stuff. But I actually kind of miss the days, years ago, before I became a "student of cinema," to borrow Dankwa's words below, when I was just a plain old fanboy, and I enjoyed movies as movies, and nothing more. They weren't the intellectual exercise that they are now for me – an unshakable, innate habit, you could say, because I instinctively strip every movie I see down to its core, and almost always find several things that I consider problematic – enough to either easily dismiss them and their relevance, or, at times, be downright insulted by them (and not necessarily for obvious reasons, but usually because of how thoughtless, or empty they are). And so the experience of watching movies for me is rarely an enjoyable one, and I actually see a lot less than you'd think I do, since cinema is what I write about.

All that said, I can be very cerebral, so anything that tickles my intellect will usually have my attention. I like to be challenged, because I think that's how, in part, you learn, evolve, etc – all of which I value highly. I know that's probably not specific enough, but it's a start.

I also tend to veer more and more these days towards the fringes when it comes to movies; I guess radical (as radical as movies can be). Much of what I see, especially released over the last 20 to 30 years, starts to blend together; very little actually really stands out to me. So I think I impulsively gravitate towards films that the mainstream (and maybe even the indies) would consider risque or "out there." I think my brain just craves something, anything, that looks and feels *different*; that doesn't blend in. I like to be made to feel uncomfortable (no matter the genre), and it's rare that a movie does that for me these days. I can safely say that I could probably skip 90% of the movies commercially released this year, and wouldn't feel like I've missed very much at all.

Dankwa Brooks | 'Nother Brother Entertainment

And to answer the main question specifically: As a student of cinema any film that can have an original take on a story through dialogue and situations and great performances. They move me.

As a filmmaker great direction, score and cinematography don't hurt none.

Dankwa Brooks

Movies went from being entertainment to be being my life's study as an adult. I even got my Bachelor's Degree in—film.

Even as a filmmaker I try to watch a film for the first time for the pure enjoyment. Upon successive viewings I might break it down, but the first time—pure enjoyment.

I love American film so much that while I admit it does seem to declined there still seems to be a strong indie film movement that has come up great ways to sustain American film.

Yes it's highly political and personality themed, but the Academy Awards seem to pick some great American movies to nominate each year! I have made a concerted effort to see all nominated films and each one wholly deserved th recognition. Really good to excellent films!

The reason I studied film though is because of the dearth of QUALITY black product that didn't fall into what genre Hollywood was green lighting at the moment be it "hood films" or the "upwardly mobile black romance" (Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Brown Sugar etc). I'm like we can have a propogation of diverse images out here…if we try.


First of all, for the past 10+ years movies have sucked ass. I last great film I saw was "The Warrior" with starring Irrfan Kahn. I get more entertainment from Youtube Web Series.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *