A line of blog posts, aiming to regularly highlight something I find interesting. Something that sparked curiosity. A discovery, if you will.
Allow me, please, to introduce you to a new internet addiction of yours. It’s about movies, and by a fellow called Mikey. There is a possibility that you are not a fan of films, and, indeed, of people being positive. Perhaps you don’t enjoy humour, and there’s always a chance that you don’t like well-edited independent productions that look at familiar things in a new light. I mean, you might not.
However, should you find yourself wanting for something new to watch, perhaps in the style of 20-something minute videos about films, and if you enjoy enthusiasm and passion, then Movies with Mikey may just be the secret sauce you are looking for. If you are also tired of the negative headlines designed to generate click-through on your YouTube or Facebook feeds, then the once-per-month Movies with Mikey episodes may, for you as well, prove to be mental equivalent of sinking into a luxuriously warm and relaxing bath.
Movies with Mikey is produced by Mikey Neumann and editing partner Thaddeus; part of the Film Joy YouTube channel, it is one of their mainstays. The show takes a look at films, selecting one each month and taking a deep look at it in video essay format. But far from being a dry dissection or display of scholastic might, the aim of the show is to find a way of looking at the movie that perhaps you hadn’t really considered before, and to take you through a journey that follows the new line of thought.
Mikey picks his film choices with deliberate care. No one can put it better than the man himself, in the recent video ‘Does Ronin Hold Up?’:
“I’ve always maintained a comfortable, woodsy kind of nostalgia for the origins of this show; an overly energetic dissertation on why nineties movies were smarter than you thought they were.
I also realised almost immediately that the depth of those nineties ideas ran out of gas in less than ten episodes. As a reaction, I took the longest break that this show has ever been on, and then I came back with a better idea of what kind of message I wanted to put out into the world:
We are better than we think we are.”
The tone of his ‘overly energetic dissertations’, then, is overwhelmingly one of positivity. Mikey will find an angle on a film that helps you to see it in a new way, reflecting the strengths of our nature and the potential of our spirit. As he bubbles and bounces his engaging way through each explanation, Mikey fills the presentation with humour, asides, mumbles and, iconically for the show, catawampus.
Movies with Mikey is the digital edition of the friend we want to hang out with.
The upbeat and sometimes frenetic spirit that Mikey brings to the show is, as you delve deeper into the archive (and hopefully you will), something he has chosen to pursue deliberately. As the historical record unfolds in the wrong order, you will notice the occasional comment about illness. There will be a slight off-key note to this beautiful world he is weaving in front of you. Nothing much, just a beat or two – not even something you will pay much notice to – until a couple of very specific videos.
Mikey was, in a former career, a successful games developer who, on the side since 2014, also produced this popular YouTube show. But, not only has he been suffering from MS for many years, he was traumatically unwell in 2017, and eventually had to quit the day job. He made the decision, instead, to concentrate on these videos. In the quote from Mikey above, there is a note about the longest break the show ever took, which was about three months. One of the videos explains that while he was suffering from the kind of illness that we would wish on no one, he persevered with the episodes. He continued to producing Movies with Mikey, even though he was having to re-learn to sit up, to walk, and to speak. When Mikey Newman talks about the human spirit, he’s talking from the position of someone who has, through the most unfair of tribulations, come to know what potential we have, by his own experience. He stayed positive through all of hardships, continuing to produce heart-warming content for us as he imbued it with his gentle and sometimes self-depreciating humour.
The great content alone would make this series of videos something worth watching. He has a great voice for video dissertation, and can deliver concluding lines with exactly the right strength. The spoken content is then further enhanced by the joyous editing, which winds a unique and brilliant visual style into the show. Matching the from-the-heart messaging with a signature colour pallet, and bringing back nostalgic memories of small-town picture-houses, it all the while uses snappy gimmicks to punch home the bright and quirky energy of the show. The fantastic quality of the editing and content easily explains why it takes a month to produce each episode.
Loved by my many other YouTubers out there, Movies with Mikey has even inspired a whole group of videos, all following in kind from the title that he put forward: Lessons Animation Taught Us. Try searching for that on YouTube sometime, you’ll have a wealth of interesting viewpoints and insights returned for your viewing pleasure. Thank you for inspiring that, Mikey.
Update: Lessons Animation Taught US Part 2 came out on 8th March 2019.
It’s good fun to watch this show and follow the unfolding points, letting him take your hand and carefully lead you to his conclusion – always an enjoyable twenty-or-so-minutes. The message he wants to show you, in all of the varied ways he can, is after all, worthwhile:
We are better
than we think we are.
Movies with Mikey Patreon: patreon.com/movieswithmikey