I was reminded of Roger Ebert’s story, which he relates in his latest Answer Man column (I just now published it online), about a phone call he once got from a reader:
Caller: “We live near the Wilmette Theatre, which is showing ‘Cries and Whispers.’ What can you tell us about it?”
Ebert: “I think it is the best film of the year.”
Caller: “Oh, that doesn’t sound like anything we’d want to see!”-Jim Emerson (commenting here)
What's interesting to me: I'm much more likely to recommend a movie that I enjoyed but don't feel too strongly about than a movie that I am passionate about. Let me elaborate just a bit and add that it really depends on who's asking for a recommendation.
Watching Regular Lovers was one of the richest, most rewarding, most interesting, and most emotionally compelling movie experiences I've had recently; watching Juno, on the other hand, was moderately enjoyable. But if I had to recommend a movie to most of my co-workers, most people in my family, most of my (non-movie buff) friends, it'd probably be Juno. Why? Because Regular Lovers is not the kind of movie most people would be open to and/or interested in. Even among my movie buff friends, I'd be hesitant to recommend it without a few words of "warning" ("Almost three hours", "French", "About May '68") and, in fact, there are a bunch of other movies that I didn't like quite as much (Once, The Hoax, Zodiac) that I'd be more likely to suggest.
I wonder if this makes me kind of a lousy champion for a movie to have: I mean, if I love Regular Lovers so much, shouldn't I be singing it's praises to everyone I meet and trying to get them to see it, too?
I don't know:
Part of me thinks that I should stick to my guns, recommend the movie ("Try Regular Lovers: it's one of my favorite movies of the year"), and hope that a few people (or at least one person) will act on the recommendation and feel like watching the movie was a worthwhile experience. But another part of me wants to avoid situations where I'm trying to sell the movie or convince someone they should see it. (My thinking here is: the kind of people who are likely to really respond to it are also likely to discover it without my help.)
Related question: is it more elitist for me to recommend a film like Regular Lovers (because it shows off what a sophisticated film-goer I am) or to not recommend it (because I can't imagine my co-workers/family members/friends would be able to get it)?