What is a spoiler?

Film Charlie "@ultraculture" Lynne's new documentary about 90s/00s teen films Beyond Clueless is in release. There's a trailer for it above. Lynne's given this interview to The Double Negative about it.

I'm really quite interested in seeing it, but reticent. Because of spoilers.

We've discussed spoilers before but my own approach to them has become increasingly hard line, which is difficult in our media saturated, blah, blah, publicity, blah world.

Essentially, since it's good to keep a barometer of these things, here's the point I've reached.

A spoiler is anything about a film. Pretty much. Yes, anything about a film.

Since it's entirely impossible not to know something about a film before watching it, I have to relent slightly.

My optimal state right now is that I'm happy to know the title, some of the stars, perhaps the director and whatever's on the poster. Oh and I may have heard Kermode's review months before but forgotten everything he said other than if he was positive. Oh and did it win an award?

If it's a mega franchise, the teaser trailer is just about fine because it's a disjointed group of images, a teaser, if you will.

Nothing beyond that if I can help it.

Here's why.

Over the years I've read dozens of articles and a few books about the experience of attending film festivals.  Each and every one of them talks about the excitement of sitting down in front of a film on what may be its first appearance in front of an audience.  Unless its been previewed, or shown to friends of the artists if its a small budget piece, that audience are the first eyes to see those images, the first ears to hear those sounds.

More often than not the film-goer in question will know little about what they're seeing.  The title, some of the stars, perhaps the director and whatever's on the poster.  Unlike the audience it may eventually see, that film-goer hasn't experienced the media saturated, blah, blah, publicity, blah world to come.  There might be some buzz but nothing much else.

I want that.  I love that.

It's also a backlash to what happened during my film degree all those years ago when many a film was spoilt by some piece of film criticism because in order to talk about a film you have to talk about the whole thing.

Also against the number of occasions in which I've absorbed the media saturated, blah, blah, publicity, blah world of a film which in the end became somewhat beside the point and ultimately a bit disappointing and empty.

So I avoid the full trailers.  And interviews unless they're print and I can skim.  Whole sections of Empire and Sight & Sound magazine go unread for months, especially the reviews. Oh hold on, add a star rating to the above list.  I'll glance at those at least.

As few preconceived notions as I can have before I watch a film, the better.

It's brilliant.

Of course I have my own prejudices and it doesn't mean I'll watch anything.  You can tell a surprising amount from a poster, for example if it's an Adam Sandler film in which he's trying to be funny rather than droll or if it looks like a "harrowing portrayal" of something.

Last night I Netflixed Draft Day, Kevin Costner's return to the sport film.  I knew it was about American Football and he was in it because that was what was on the poster and I remembered seeing his photograph on the review in Empire.

Even though I couldn't really follow the plot because there was little interest in hand holding anyone who doesn't already understand the vagaries of choosing a Quarterback for the NFL, I thoroughly enjoyed myself because the whole thing was a complete surprise including other cast members.  I even applauded when one of them appeared.

Like I said, it's brilliant

Which brings us back to Beyond Clueless.

The problem with Beyond Clueless is that it's a film about films and in order to talk about a film you have to talk about the whole thing which means there are bound to be films in there I haven't seen which will have the plot explained which is too much information.

My first reaction was to look at the IMDb to see if Lynne and his associates had uploaded a list of the films mentioned with a view to catching up with the films I haven't seen before watching the documentary.

They have and there's a lot of them.

Except in glancing at the list, I'm getting to see the films Lynne talks about in Beyond Clueless.  In other words, I'm spoiling Beyond Clueless's potential surprises by looking at a list of the films he mentions.

Which is a pickle.

Do I ...

(a)  Watch Beyond Clueless and hope to god that it doesn't spoil too many unseen films in the process


(b)  Watch all the films I haven't seen in this list and hope to god that it doesn't spoil Beyond Clueless in the process

No idea.  In the end I expect it'll be

(c)  Begin watching Beyond Clueless when it arrives on dvd or tv or wherever and shut it off at the first sign of trouble then go and watch some of the films on the list anyway.

Apart from American Pie Presents Band Camp which sounds rubbish.

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