Friday, August 31, 2012

FB 101: An Introduction to Film Buffness (Part 1)

How do you know that you are a film buff?   Here is a simple test:
  • Have you seen more films than 95 percent of everyone you know?
  • When you begin to discuss a film does everyone around you seem uncomfortable and begin to shuffle their feet?
  • Do you feel like you should make a distinction between “movies” and “films”?
  • Have you spent time thinking which films are the “best”?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you are probably a film buff.  If you answered “yes” to all four, there is no doubt.

What is Buffness and how does it relate to Film?
A film buff holds that nebulous area between a film critic and a person who just enjoys movies.  A critic is one who has clear opinions about what makes a good film, at least in their opinion, and is prepared—at a moment’s notice—to express it verbally or in writing.  A person who enjoys movies is someone who likes a good movie but hasn’t spent any time thinking about movies—they know what they like and film as a whole doesn’t impinge itself on their consciousness.

 The film buff is one who enjoys film, but finds film to take up a decent portion of their thinking.  They find themselves  spending more than a reasonable amount of free time watching movies.  They also seek out “classic” or “great” films to further their film enjoyment or education.   A film buff enjoys talking seriously about movies with other film buffs.  And usually film buffs don’t see a real distinction between “art” films and “popular” films—or it isn’t as important, anyway.  What they know is what they like and they like almost all film, across all genres, across all languages, across all decades.  Certainly there are bad films, but a “bad” film isn’t in any particular style, either.  What a film buff knows about film more than anything else is what she or he likes.  And who else matters, really?

One of the joys and frustrations of film buffness is the fact that there are always more films to watch.  Even if somehow you became one of the great film buff Masters and have watched all the “great” films of each year and genre, there are always new films coming out.  And there is always this sneaking suspicion that there is another “great” film just around the corner that isn’t as widely watched by critics and it can be found by you—yes, you!   So a film buff’s work is never done.  We may fail film by losing interest or lacking time, but film will never fail us—it will always be there for us.

(to be cont.)


  1. What a lovely series of posts! I have to admit that I fail one of your criteria for a film buff: I can't tell the difference between a "film" and a "movie". I use both words, for variation. But you say there's a different meaning to them? As a foreigner I haven't caught that.

    Your selection of movies you need to see looks excellent. I've seen the majority, but in many cases very long time ago, so I barely remember anything at all now. I need to revisit them. And 8 1/2 is one I've never watched. I need to change that.

  2. Thanks so much!

    What I was getting at is the consideration of separating "movie" and "film". "Movie" is a more casual term, smacking of populism. "Film" is what one uses when one is "serious" about movies, but either can be used. What I was getting at isn't that the film buff uses the terms separately (I don't), but that they may have thought about using the term "film" instead of "movie". It's a lame joke, really.

    And don't worry, Jessica, you CERTAINLY qualify as a film buff.

    I hope you do see 8 1/2. It's not for everyone, but I enjoyed it very much-- I love the lighthearted frivolity mixed with an important underlying subject matter.