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My friend is a giant film snob. How do I get her to shut up? Add to ...

The question

I have a friend who is really into indie films and film festivals. She can’t stop describing every film she sees or relating the entire plot to the point that it’s pretty much all she will talk about if you let her. It’s boring and annoying. Subtle hints or switching topics don’t seem to work. What to do without being overly rude?

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The answer

Pardon me, but maybe what you really need to do is adjust your attitude and start to appreciate your friend a little more.

I love people with a passion for something! It’s kind of the main thing I look for in potential friends. And if someone is passionate about something, I tend to love hearing them talk about it. Could be almost anything: cooking, music, hot-air ballooning, spelunking, pickling – even coin or stamp collecting. Well, maybe not coin or stamp collecting. I could see getting a tad squirrelly if I got cornered at a party by an ardent numismatist or philatelist who then launched into a lengthy soliloquy on the topic of his or her hobby.

But hey, I have an open mind: maybe if he’d been paddling up the Amazon, attacked by piranhas, shot with poison blow-darts and snapped at by crocodiles, chasing down that rare coin or stamp…

And mostly where there’s passion, there’s interest, it seems to me. What I find truly boring is people who sit there in a glazed state, like so many ducks à l’orange, discussing wall sconces (whatever they are), because they have no particular passions or intellectual interests.

And indie film and film festivals are a great topic – especially now, in 2013, if you ask me.

May I be permitted a brief digression? I’ve always loved movies, all kinds of movies: kung fu, rom-com, zombie, gangster, coming-of-age, end-of-the-world. But in the last couple of years, maybe because of the globalization of the market, the superhero genre has become dominant. Every other movie now seems to feature characters who have special powers, or wear jet-powered iron suits, or carry magic hammers, speak exclusively in snappy one-liners, and kick everyone’s asses during the course of a 40-minute, fate-of-the-earth-hangs-in-the-balance finale.

Don’t get me wrong. I go to those too (I have three boys). And I enjoy … parts of … some of them. But sometimes, as I sit watching yet another death ray slicing skyscrapers in half while everyone runs screaming through the rubble, I find myself wondering: “Ubi sunt movies that are just stories, like The Godfather?” With rare exceptions like Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, (unless it’s horror or rom-com, both of which remain robust genres and have kind of built-in audiences) it seems like an even unholier battle than ever to get what in Hollywood is called a “small” onto the big screen.

Well, film festivals and indie filmmakers are the exact ones keeping those kinds of movies alive. I guess what I’m trying to say is: Indie films and film festivals, the very topics you pooh-pooh, are in fact a great topic for conversation, maybe even an important one, and if that’s what your friend wants to talk about, don’t discourage her, encourage her. Of course it’s a gift to speak interestingly on any topic, and not everyone has it. I have a friend so blessed in this department half the time I’d rather hear him describe a film than go to it. But if your friend doesn’t have that gift, my tip is: get more, rather than less, involved in the conversation.

In other words, if you catch her monologuing in classic movie supervillain style (“As you see, Mr. Bond, I have pointed this giant laser at the moon, so that when…”), jump in. Ask her questions. If you find her engaged in a dry recitation of plot points, ask her about theme, or character, or tone, or some such.

Maybe do a little research, bring something of your own to the table. I can almost guarantee you will find your conversations on the topic of film more interesting.

If not, well, I hate to be blunt, but I’m always a little leery of people who proclaim themselves bored. “Bored people are boring,” ever heard that one? I’m not even sure it’s a saying, but if it isn’t, it should be. Could it be you’re the one not returning the ball with enough spin and heat, and that’s the real reason your conversations are so tepid and lacklustre?

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you there. All I’m really trying to say is: If you’re not interested, maybe it’s because you’re not engaged enough.

In short: Get in there. Mix it up. Discuss and debate. It’ll be fun, and I bet she’ll appreciate it. As a film buff, she should know that a spirited back-and-forth dialogue is always preferable to a monologue.

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

 

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