A question asked by Nathaniel R at The Film Experience.
It's a tricky question to properly and definitively grasp, let alone properly and definitively answer. But, without sounding like I'm sheepishly dodging the question (which, really, I guess I am), or attempting to be precious about it (which, really, I'm not), it's simply movies themselves. Everything they offer - everything they do and mean, all at the same time. Whatever that is. And of course it's personal: we're all searching for something that connects us to the pictures we see on screen.
It's unmissable movies. It's great movies. Good and merely OK movies. On occasion even terrible movies can have one or two moments of sheer brilliance in them. But it's just moving pictures themselves, projected in an evocative order - not necessarily A-Z - and played out for me in whatever sublime or messy form they choose to take (any genre, long, short, glorious colour, black & white, and so on - any and every which way they come). It's everything contained in the ongoing pleasure that each one might allow. Ongoing pleasure: key words, both.
But, in all honesty, it's something I don't really want to answer. If I knew what it was that I search for in movies, and how to articulate it fully, I may not watch any more. I'd have found the reason for doing something I cherish and have no need to continue to find out. And as far as I know, that ain't gonna happen any time soon. Gladly, the search will just have to continue.
So, see, I can't possibly come up with a good enough proper answer. And I'm thankful not to really be able to. The above cop-out points to this rather wholeheartedly. But, to try and be a good sport, and because such a question is worth a stab for any committed movie lover, here are the first five things that came to mind when I stopped trying to think of an answer (which, for now, will do me fine):
1. Mood mood mood
2. The thrill of images
3. A team of talented, exploratory folk who know their way around a camera
4. The given film's ability to grab the heart first, then the brain.
5. Zombies. Lots of them. (Grabbing at my heart and my brain!)
And, yes yes, of course all those wonderfully worthy, always-sought-after and meaningful things like art, truth, creative endeavour, memorable characters and the like. Throw those things in there, too.
But mainly it's the thrilling images and the zombies.