Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 19, 2020

Caught in a cinematic haze: how to be movie-obsessed

By LILLIAN KAIRIS | February 5, 2015

My amazing Intro to Cinema professor, Meredith Ward, always says that movies are better when watched together. There is something strangely magical about the shared cinematic experience as every laugh, every gasp, every tense, emotion-filled silence is amplified tenfold. It’s February, award show season, and as the pre-Oscar buzz fills cinephiles like myself with anticipation, the shared movie-going experience has wonderfully intoxicated this season.

I’ve now seen, with friends and family alike, six out of eight Best Picture nominees. And I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. While second semester schoolwork may be slightly — and yes, I’m saying slightly — more of a priority in my mind, the rush of checking yet another masterpiece movie off my list is becoming a chronic, heart-stopping addiction.

Group movie madness started, for me, with The Imitation Game. It was winter break. It was early evening. It was family movie tradition, and my mom took us all to the expensive Riverfront theater with the plush chairs and the top-notch Dolby surround sound, and we had no idea what we were about to see. I rarely go into movies entirely blind, but I am so glad I did with The Imitation Game.

Everything was a beautiful surprise, from the accurately-portrayed wartime setting to the nuanced performance of Benedict Cumberbatch, who so deftly conveyed every facet of the complex man who was Alan Turing (the genius who broke the German encryption machine Enigma in the 1940s). I left the Riverfront theater proudly checking one Oscar film off my soon-to-be-annihilated to-do list.

Returning to Hopkins for spring semester, I was somehow lucky enough to find people as obsessed with award-worthy movies as I am. My so-called “soulfriend” Maggie and I spent one of our first Intersession nights on campus watching the Golden Globes in the AMR II study lounge, and I think that’s where it all began: The Goal. Watch all eight Best Picture nominees, in sickness or in health, legally or otherwise, before the Academy Awards.

And it wasn’t just us kindred Film & Media Studies girls who accepted this challenge. As a matter of fact, you could say our entire trek through 2014’s finest has been generously “sponsored” by our friends over in the far corners of Lazear. But I can say quite wholeheartedly that the journey to the other side of this dormitory palace has never been more worth it.

Maggie and I started with The Theory of Everything, which we saw along with friends and popcorn in a charming, old-style, newly-discovered (at least, for us) theater called The Senator.

The film was poignant and bittersweet and Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Stephen Hawking gave Benedict Cumberbatch some close competition. After two brilliant leading men in a row, we were hooked.

It was then that the Lazear dependency began to run its course. For three or four nights in a row, I ventured down the hall with my blanket after Late Night and the completion of (most of) my homework, ready for yet another film. Whiplash, The Imitation Game (because who doesn’t love a good re-watch?), Selma. And by “in sickness and in health”, I mean just that — the midnight screening of Selma was capped with a sudden cough that morphed into full-on flu by morning.

I was a mess. I was a flightless bird with my feathers plucked out, dunked in water and mercilessly tugged back into the cruel, stale-oxygen, fire-lungs, red-eyed, fluttering-heart world.

Metaphors alone can’t describe the condition my body was in. No lie, I planned my own funeral once or twice. Flower arrangements and everything.

Yet all delusions must come to an end — that one included, along with the four other half-dream-half-realities that plagued those forty-eight hours (I’m a notorious sick hallucinator). Saturday at 3:30 p.m., after a cup of soup from my angel upon high of a roommate (shoutout to Nicole Alessandra Israel-Meyer, love you forever, girl) and a glorious, resplendent, lavish CharMar delivery from the saviors of Lazear (and Maggie, bless her soul eternally), I was healed.

Hallelujah.

In retrospect, I might admit: Perhaps I movie’d too hard. Perhaps I was too ambitious, too rushed, bit off more of the cinephile’s dream feast than I could really chew. But in reality — psh.

Sickness is nothing. I take a page from my homie Kelly Clarkson: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” My immune system now has one more peg on its bedpost of virus-destroying accomplishments. And if it wasn’t for my movie feast, in sickness or in health, I wouldn’t have seen some of the greatest films of my life. (which, P.S: Boyhood. See it. See it see it see it.) So yeah, in retrospect, I movie’d just hard enough.

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