The Celluloid Zombie Guide to Becoming a Movie Snob – Part One

So, you enjoy movies, watch them regularly and feel ready to take the next step. That’s right, you don’t just want to be a movie buff, you want to be a movie snob. You’ve seen those shiny boys and girls, hanging outside the local multiplex, spouting on about Kurosawa or Mise-en-scène and you’ve thought to yourself, ‘I have no idea what they’re talking about but it sounds impressive. I want to be in that gang!’

My good friend, you have come to the right place. In two parts, Celluloid Zombie is going to impart great wisdom upon you and teach you how to blag, bluff and manipulate your way to Movie Snob Supremacy.


Lesson 1 – Know Your Directors

Take any movie, and an accomplished Movie Snob will usually be able to reel off the credits like last week’s shopping list. For the Snob, it’s not enough to be able to remember the title of a film (something that is often beyond the casual viewer), they have to be able to tell you who was in it, who wrote it, who scored it and, of course, who directed it. All with an air of insufferable smugness (see more advanced lessons).

This skill can take many years of total immersion in the field, and an equal amount of years of total exclusion from the real world, so the trainee Movie Snob should simply look to acquire a good working knowledge of directors as a solid grounding. And this means all directors. It’s simply not enough to know that Spielberg directed E.T. or Hitchcock directed Psycho. That’s like calling yourself a music expert because you know who sang Heartbreak Hotel.

Acquaint yourself with names like François Truffaut, John Ford, Frank Capra and Akira Kurosawa. Wikipedia will probably give you enough nuggets to bluff your way if you can’t be bothered to actually watch the movies. And remember, don’t forget those titles!


Lesson 2 – Use Some French Words

No Movie Snob’s arsenal is complete without a barrage of pretentious and mostly unnecessary French. Learn these words and phrases and then sprinkle them liberally in your conversations about cinema to demonstrate just how worldly and cosmopolitan you really are:

The stuff that a director/actor/whatever has done.
Example: ‘Are you familiar with Capra’s oeuvre at all?’

Rite de Passage
The journey someone goes through to go from being one thing to another thing. Usually applied to teen stories.
Example: ‘16 Candles is an engaging rite de passage story’ (even if it’s not).

What a scene has in it. The visual landscape of a scene or its components.
Example: ‘Hitchcock uses his mise-en-scène to denote the fragmented nature of Norman Bates’.

What happens at the end.
Example: ‘Sinking ships turn me on so I only watched Titanic for its dénouement’.


Lesson 3 – Stay for the Closing Credits

A true Movie Snob never, I repeat NEVER, gets up to leave the cinema during the movie’s credits. They remain seated until the lights turn on and the usher ambles in to sweep up the discarded popcorn kernels and half-eaten nachos. The truly dedicated may even still be there when the next lot come in.

To the Movie Snob, leaving as the credits roll is a heinous act of gross disrespect to all the Grips, Best Boys and Assistant Third-Unit Director’s Assistants who have worked tirelessly to bring you your latest celluloid fix and ask only that you remain seated for a few more minutes so you can see their name roll slowly up the screen in sans serif, white text. What’s wrong with you? Can’t you hold your bladder a little longer? It’s all me, me, me with you, isn’t it?

In addition, it is also important to adopt a series of disapproving noises and looks to aim at those inferior individuals who do choose to vacate the premises prematurely. Tut-tutting, heavy sighs, and exasperated shakes of the head are all excellent methods for communicating your disgust. Until the target of your disdain turns around and looks at you, of course. Then it’s time to start actually looking at the credits. Avoid eye-contact. The last thing you want to do is explain your disapproval to some 280 pound guy who’s desperate for the toilet and just forked out a small fortune to watch a shit movie.


Lesson 4 – Cultivate the Correct Shit-List

It is vital as a Movie Snob that you navigate the treacherous minefield of acceptable taste while in public. Sure, you can enjoy Bad Boys II in private, but some pleasures must be kept under wraps if you are to be taken seriously as one of the elite. So, from this moment on, you no longer publicly endorse the following:

The Wayan Brothers
Ben Affleck (the actor)
Paul W.S. Anderson
Michael Bay
Star Wars Episodes I-III

However, you are actively encouraged to publicly endorse the following:

The Coen Brothers
Ben Affleck (the director)
Paul Thomas Anderson
Michael Mann
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI


Lesson 5 – Learn to Read Subtitles

Repeat the mantra after me; ‘subtitles are my friend, subtitles are my friend’. It is no longer acceptable to say things like, ‘I can’t read and watch at the same time’ or ‘they go too quickly’. Never again can you wait for the US remake, just so you’ll have the luxury of being able to take your eyes off the screen for more than five seconds without missing vital plot points. Fix your gaze screenwards and do not deviate until the final credits are rolling. And watch those too, remember.

If you are to become one of the anointed, you must embrace movies that don’t come with American accents, product placement and uplifting dénouements. It’s time to venture into foreign lands.


Come back later for part two of my pointless post! Or not.




23 people thought reading “The Celluloid Zombie Guide to Becoming a Movie Snob – Part One” was a good idea. They even said stuff about it.

  1. Colin on

    I like! I recognised myself in a few, but thankfully not all of these. I’m guilty of mise-en-scene, for example (although I maintain that it’s an acceptable phrase for a definitive section of cinema), and I may have lurched into denouement at one time or another, but my site is oeuvre-free goddammit!

    • Richard on

      I’m keeping quiet about how many of these I’m guilty of, although I confess I’ve always felt a bit silly using the French terms, however vaild they may sometimes be. Keep the oeuvre out, Colin! Resist!

  2. Margaret Reyes Dempsey on

    Though I could never hope to achieve your supreme level of movie snobbiness, I will admit to fricking and fracking under my breath when the clueless wonder seated in front of me rises and remains standing as I try to read the credits around his ample, melted-Raisenette-smeared ass. I especially love it when people stand and then turn to face you and don’t realize that the reason you’re sitting there bobbing your head back and forth like a prize fighter dodging a punch is because they’re blocking your view. The weirdest part to me is that so many movies have great moments while the credits are rolling and people still flee. What’s going to happen if you get to the parking lot 30 seconds later?

    • Richard on

      My ‘supreme level of movie snobbiness’? You know, I sense you’re trying to tell me something here but you’re being too subtle, Maggie. I’m not getting it. 😛

      Melted-Raisenette-smeared ass? ROFL! Are you trying to turn me on?

  3. ruth on

    Ha..ha.. this is a fun post Richard. I don’t know if I actually want to be a ‘snob’ even if I fulfill all of these categories. I think no matter how much you think you know about movies, there are still stuff you DON’T know. Btw, as someone from a non-English speaking country, I’m used to reading subtitles so it doesn’t bother me at all, but it doesn’t make me a ‘better’ film watcher than most.

  4. Castor on

    According to part I of this guide, I’m not a full-blown movie snob! I certainly don’t sit through the credits unless I know beforehand there is something at the end. I don’t use those crazy French words.

        • Richard on

          Ah, inverted snobbery. One of my favourite pastimes.

          I wonder if French Movie Snobs have a collection of English phrases. Perhaps there is a Gallic equivalent of this post out there where the writer bemoans the use of the phrase ‘right of passage’. 😉

    • Richard on

      I’ll try not to disappoint, Uke. Hammer at the ready.

      Movie-chav, ha! I like that. I might have to start throwing that phrase at certain people. Maybe that can be Lesson 6. Call someone a movie-chav at least once a day. 🙂

  5. Custard on

    LOVE IT!!!! I say again LOVE IT

    You sir, are a funny old git! Had me in stitches all the way through. Especially the sitting through the credits part, and making disapproving noises. I know people like that!!

    I take great satisfaction in the fact that although I am learning (the hard way) to be a critic of film, and how to review properly, (rather than just saying…that was great!!) I am an every mans critic. I am never going to be a snob. I like what I like so deal with it!!

    It feels good actually. Maybe I am the anti snob. Maybe this anti snob way is the new age movie snob. We could invent a genre in snobbery rather than conforming to the norm!

    I do enjoy your posts Richard. 🙂


    • Richard on

      Why, thank you, Mr Custard, Sir. To be honest, I don’t think there’s a trick to reviewing a movie that needs to be learned. And you’re probably writing it for the everyman anyway. Embrace your anti-snob perspectives and go tell it on the mountain! 😉

    • Richard on

      Thanks, Helen. I’ll check that out.

      I, too, have been known to shed a tear or two at a movie, whether that be through raw emotion or the loss of time and money. 😉

    • Richard on

      Glad you liked it, Guy. I try not to come off as smug, too, but appreciate that I fail miserably. Still, it’s the thought that counts. 😉


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