Notes from Film Club Member Interviews: The Original Dozen

I am in the process of interviewing members of the Tacoma Film Club. I am asking each interviewee a series of questions (shown in bold below). I have now interviewed 12 members [April and May of 2014] and show a summary of the responses below. I will post a followup after I have completed interviews with the remaining members.

What are your favorite Movies [both all-time likes and current likes]?
o An Affair to Remember
o Black Stallion
o Blue Jasmine
o Book Thief
o Bridge on the River Kwai
o Bridges of Mason County
o Captain Phillips
o Contracted
o Crimes and Misdemeanors
o Dr. Zhivago (3 votes)
o Electric Horseman
o Fargo
o Fiddler on the Roof
o Flags of Our Fathers
o God is Not Dead
o Great Beauty
o Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
o Hannah and Her Sisters
o Happy Accidents
o Happy-Go-Lucky
o Hedgehog
o Her
o I am Love
o Lawrence of Arabia
o Les Miserables
o Life of Pi
o Lives of Others
o Lunchbox
o Man Who Would Be King
o Marlon Brando (any of his)
o Memento
o Midnight in Paris
o Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
o The Mill and the Cross
o Miracle Worker
o Moonrise Kingdom
o Mystic River
o Mystic River
o Naked
o Nebraska
o Once Upon a Time in the West
o Out of Africa
o Planet of the Apes
o Primer
o Red Shoes
o Reds
o Secrets and Lies
o Silent Movie
o Silver Linings Playbook
o A Star is Born
o Star Trek
o Talk to Her
o The Bicycle Thief
o The Crying Game
o The Guard
o The Lives of Others
o The Long Ranger
o The Reader
o The Station Agent
o Wolf of Wall Street
o Zombie

Who is Your Favorite Director?
• Like Mike Leigh
• I don’t pay attention to who the director is
• Like Woody Allen and Paul Newman movies
• Like Woody Allen’s movies
• Like some of the Coen Brothers’ movies
• Like Clint Eastwood [Flags of Our Fathers; Mystic River; Bridges of Mason County]
• Awareness of the director’s work can encourage/discourage me, so I like not knowing who it is before I see a film
• Like directors from different eras
• Like Wes Anderson = cutting edge today
• David O. Russell
• Like Woody Allen
• Like Coen Brothers
• NO to director of “Plaza Suite”
• No emphasis on director
• Sally Potter, first innovative female director!
• Wes Anderson (quirky and I like)
• I avoid Lars Von Trier (Dogville)

What Kinds of Films do you Like?
o Drama: personal conflicts where the correct path is obscure; right and wrong hard to determine.
o A movie that makes me think or see something in a new way
o Personal stories where I feel a connection, I’m pulled in and I CARE what’s happening (no matter how flawed the characters are)
o Humor interwoven in the story, like Nebraska and Philomena
o I like to feel; a movie that touches me
o I like character – somebody is achieving/overcoming
o Variety of films I might have missed
o Prefer independent films
o Like documentaries
o Like a good story
o Needs to have a good story line that I can follow (I may see it more than once)
o Likes stories of people trying to live life through struggles – lessons are there – touches our lives.
o Likes meeting people; seeing films probably would not otherwise see; discussions about the films.
o Like the social contact.
o New viewpoint that interests me; introduction to a new world or concept
o “Draws me into its world”
o Like 40s foreign movies
o Interesting character I can sympathize with
o Look for characters to identify with
o Fargo made me realize I like black comedy
o Strong character development
o “Feel” with the well-drawn character
o Beauty of the scenes
o Like good story
o Like artists who create original works of art
o Makes me think afterward
o A good movie interests me; engages my emotions
o I learn something or I am moved by the story
o Visuals are important
o Brings out something inside me, like empathy
o Would like to see musicals like Moulin Rouge and Chicago
o Comedies
o Liked seeing Rio with grandchildren

What kinds of films do you NOT like?
o Silly movies – “nothing” movies leave me cold; not into slap-stick
o Hate violent movies – painful to watch them, even if well-done
o Where it’s difficult to understand what’s happening. I ask “What’s it all about, so who cares?” (not me)
o Action oriented movies where chases and shooting and running is primary and characters and their stories are not well-developed
o Dislike comedies for “comedy’s sake” without a meaningful and interesting story to go with them.
o Overly violent
o About comic strip characters
o About Kung Fu
o Potty humor
o Pace too slow; editing needed
o Gratuitous sex or violence
o “Market driven”
o Hard core pornography
o Actors whose personal lives reveal poor character, like Mel Gibson
o Not too “out there” – not too weird
o No disturbing, horrifying/frightening for me
o Not so long – La Dolce Vita was good, but too long
o Horror; grizzly

What do you like about our film discussions?
• Good discussion = lots of audience participation
• Learn about other members through their discussion
• Variety of opinions ; not necessarily a consensus
• Better appreciation of film if others explain aspects I did not consider
• Loves discussion; joined club because I love film
• Challenges what I think
• How people feel about a movie
• Things I did not notice come out; makes me think more about it
• Likes to be drawn out
• Better discussion when facilitator asks questions; helps me think
• Likes the 1-5 rating
• Hearing other points of view than mine make me want to see it again
• Enriching to hear variety of responses
• Always stimulating
• Gives me writing ideas
• I better appreciate a film if others explain aspects I did not consider
• If I see even one of the three, I will go to the discussion
• Using the 1-5 grading works well because everyone has a chance to talk

What other Suggestions/Feedback do you have for The Film Club?
o Start on time
o Are we “cliquish”?
o Should we have a sign-in sheet?
o Focus on new people!
o Maybe arrange phone calls reminding people of screenings and discussion
o Get the message out
o Like meeting at CSL
o More consistency with hand-raising during discussions – too hard to “butt in”
o Have not liked movies shown at CSL for some time
o Have more people facilitating discussions
o Need younger people
o More comfortable place to meet
o Change start time of movie to 7:30
o There is a difference between a “film” and a “movie” [Film is what shows in art houses]
o Seats not comfortable
o Prefer less scholarly and more entertaining films
o Lighten up if want more members
o Theme interferes sometimes; just three good picks, please
o Be more flexible on themes
o Speak to film classes at TCC and UW to invite new people
o Be friendly to new people when they come


3 thoughts on “Notes from Film Club Member Interviews: The Original Dozen

  1. As in many interview data results, the responses here are splashed at both ends of the spectrum. In the past 10 years, I have heard most of these responses, but thanks, Eydrice for being a sweet bulldog about gathering, & shedding light on the member’s concerns. Perhaps, under Michael’s new leadership, more changes will come out of these insights. It is an exciting time to be involved in the film club; gives me goose bumps, makes me smile.

  2. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me &amp my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such wonderful info being shared freely out there. dbddcafgdgcf

  3. In early June I sent e-mails to 10 members, with questions for them to consider before talking with me. I received fewer than 6 responses, so I am just going to summarize those responses here. I have talked with several of them. Seems as if those who did respond should have their responses put in the blog so all can see what has been done.

    I have also included the details of a new member response because it is so complete.

    I think I will just move forward and send e-mails to the next group of paid members. I have focused on paying members because I think they should be acknowledged that way.

    Here are the responses [which may explain why more people did not respond]:

    First responding member:
    Movies take me away from real life and make me think differently. I would not be willing to share my thoughts. My longtime favorites are “The Barbarian Invasions” and “Local Hero.” My more recent favorites have been “The Elegance of the Hedgehog,” and “Love, Actually.”

    I consider a film “good” if I get either old or new ideas from it. Also, the visual impact can be important to me. Plus, good acting such as Helen Mirren’s in “The Queen” appeals to me.

    I do not particularly enjoy discussing a film I have seen.

    I will avoid any films directed by the guy who did a lobotomy (or something like that) on himself. It was violent in many ways with no observable redeeming qualities.

    Second responding member:
    This member is “not much into films” and for various times has not seen any movies. This member says “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Oliver,” and “Chicken Every Sunday” are the only favorites, except an additional liking for “gutsy” movies.

    This member has never seen a bad French movie of any type.

    This member hates American films where the camera jumps all over the place, which does not happen in French films.

    Third responding member:
    This person likes old 50s and 60s movies as well as silent films, and European post WW II films.
    Fourth responding member (very articulate new member!)
    Though fewer than six months in the club, this member presented some significant responses which I think we want to consider. I spent time with this person because of newness and ability and willingness to share.

    New Member enjoyment and preferences
    – Likes to contemplate people’s actions and beliefs.
    – Interested in the characters and what happens to them.
    – Less interest in film making techniques.
    – A “good” film is one in which real people are acting in believable ways in realistic situations.
    – Given the circumstances in the film, I can understand why that character acts that way.
    – I like learning something about a culture I am not familiar with or an issue I have not spent much time thinking about.
    – I like a film that’s simply beautiful to watch. I can tolerate a thin story line occasionally if the film is a work of art.
    – I like a film that is well edited. I need only three examples of the “jerkiness” of a character, not 33

    New Member thoughts on discussing films
    – I prefer not to be lectured. If I wanted to learn from an expert’s vast knowledge, I’d simply take a film class.
    – I want to be entertained by thought-provoking discussions, even if all involved are no more knowledgeable than I am.
    – We could discuss why there is a disconnect between experts and the great unwashed public on rating a film.

    New Member Thoughts on Directors
    – Liked the month when the theme was the Director of “Three Kings”
    – Like selecting a trio of films by the same director every few months

    New Member Dislikes
    – Most science fiction
    – Overtly violent films
    – Films about comic book characters
    – Most slapstick humor
    – If it appeals to a 19 year-old male college student, I probably won’t like it
    – Long lingering death of a character as a major theme

    New Member Suggestions
    – Maybe have different types of discussions, like:
    – The art of film editing (choose movies which won Oscars for film editing)
    – How characters deal with loss
    – Three meetings a month is quite a bit
    – Include a film that will be on TV a few times that month (as one of the three movies) would give flexibility to the viewing time.

    Having this person’s details seems valuable (to me) because that person can pick up things that maybe those of us who have been members much longer have just gotten used to. I imagine that some of this new member’s thoughts have occurred to others, but not articulated so well.

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