Tactic for finding movies w/o exposing self to any spoilers?
August 29, 2022 5:38 AM   Subscribe

I happened to randomly watch this old Japanese movie and found that one aspect I enjoyed was not having seen any previews or read any reviews beforehand. (These days, I find both give out too much of the plot.) For contemporary movies, I've tried to find critics I generally agree with and just look to see if the title of their reviews are positive or negative, but that only goes so far. Does anyone have any other clever strategies?
posted by Jon44 to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you know you like some broad thing - a certain genre, movies from a certain country, a particular style, a time period? - you might look up rec lists for that thing. I'm sure a general search or IMDB will give you a ton but I like Letterboxd for this. Then without looking much further into the movies themselves, you might just have a good time working through the Top Ten German Expressionist Films or Best Rom-Coms Of The 1990s or whatever you went looking for.

It can also be fun to pick a particular director, actress, or smaller film studio and just meander through their back catalog without doing much research into each particular movie.

Alternatively, a much lazier long-term strategy - keep a running list of recommendations, things you saw a good review of, etc. (Again, I do this in Letterboxd, but YMMV.) If your brain is anything like as forgetful as mine, you'll forget quickly enough why they got onto that list so now you just have a list of "stuff past me thought, for some reason, they'd like to watch someday." Then when you're in the mood for a movie just pick something off that list that you remember nothing about but know at some point you felt vaguely positively toward watching.
posted by Stacey at 5:57 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]

This is something we lost with Blockbuster. You could just walk into Blockbuster and find some random movie you'd never heard of. You can still do the same thing at your public library, though.

If you can enlist a friend, have someone else pick movies for you. That way the person choosing the movies has some editorial discretion: if they know you hate movies where divorce is a plot point, they can select movies that don't feature divorce. But you're still approaching it as a blank slate.

If you subscribe to a streaming service with a reasonably deep catalog, try typing a couple of random letters in to the search feature, and watching the first result that comes up. I just tried this myself, and typed "ar" into the Disney+ search box. The first result was The Aristocats, which I'm pretty sure I've seen at some point in my life, but a couple results down was a movie called Artemis Fowl that I'd never even heard of. In terms of finding a movie I had no preconceptions about, it was a success.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:12 AM on August 29 [1 favorite]

I use a highly selective streaming service (specifically Mubi). The films are organised into sets with some kind of theme, so I can usually navigate to the sort of thing I want to watch, and then I just don't read the description. It does require a certain willingness to be surprised and watching something you're not in the mood for, but the films are at least good quality and/or have something interesting about them.
posted by tavegyl at 7:15 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]

This is an area where Letterboxd shines. Follow the critics you like there, and on your home page, take note of the "New from Friends" and "Popular with Friends" sections to figure out what film you're interested in. After you see a film, click in and check out the reviews, note the people you think had sharp takes that line up with yours and follow them, too.

After a while, you get a sort of stable of people, professional, semi-professional, and amateur whose tastes are a lot like yours. You can check their ratings on movies without reading reviews and that will tell you what you want to know.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:43 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]

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