Thursday, March 11, 2010

Finding It at the Movies

I have a few friends who are indifferent to the movies. They wouldn't say that, they would say the love movies, but they don't have a clue what it is to love movies. Kinda like a picky eater who claims to love food.

It wasn't until this Oscar season that I realized I had a full-blown obsession with the movies. I had been called a cinema buff, which I took as a compliment of sorts, and thought of myself as a cineaste, which is a highfalutin word for the same thing. But I hadn't acknowledged the extent of my involvement with the movies, maybe to the point of powerless-and-my-life-had-become-unmanageable. I don't watch the Oscars with the objective of seeing who wins so much as seeing the Hollywood animals in their native habitat. I watch movies all the time, go to the latest ones in the cinema palace and rent two or three a week. Added to those I find commercial-free on Turner Classic Movies and those I stumble into on the cable channels, it turns out that movies are like wallpaper in my life. I like silly romantic comedies with pretty people in them and dark violent murderous ones with sweaty guys shooting each other's faces off (as long as there's a woman around somewhere). I like mysteries, a smattering of science fiction, relationship movies, and even occasional animated cartoons.

How many movies do you have to see before you admit your addiction? I'm not sure. I'm still in denial here--I'd like to say I'm movie-dependent rather than a movieholic. But the line draws closer all the time.

I have adored Jeff Bridges since The Last Picture Show and The Great Lebowski, but had not seen Starman until I rented after the Oscars. (Yeah, I loved it.)I especially liked him in The Contender and The Door in the Floor, both of which I suggest you rent if you haven't seen.

I love Meryl Streep as much as even movie non-lovers do. She is classy and enormously gifted in both comedy and drama, with that uniquely chameleon quality that transports her spirit while channeling that of someone else. Whether she wins an Oscar or not is irrelevant at this point. She is Hollywood's reigning queen, and she carries that mantle superbly. I can't wait to see what she does next.

My interest in the art form is not so much related to the technical achievements as it is in its transformational component. I like to leave the movie house feeling like a different person from the one who went in. I even have known this phenomenon when watching a rented movie in my own home. It's the magic of the writing combined with the magic of acting--both of which I do myself, so it's interesting that I can be transported by the work of others. Sometimes I'll say to myself, "Good scene!" at the end of a good scene, or even "Great line!" and at others I am just transfixed at the performance of the actor who just delivered the great line or good scene. This does not even mean I wasn't able to suspend my disbelief--I can be totally there while the critical half of my brain is doing its work to disarm the inner child who is living life up there among the pretty people performing. In watching The Matrix I experienced flying with the characters, and it was awesomely familiar. I knew I had done that in my dreams. Had I had the foresight to see the Imax version of Avatar I'm sure I would have had similar out-of-body experiences.

Something keeps me coming back to movies, always hoping that some little moment will take me out of myself and put a smile on my soul. In more cases than not, it happens. It's mind expansion and heart expansion, and, man oh man, it can be addictive.


Anonymous said...

Great post! I love movies, too, but I like finding little known indie films, it makes it feel like they are a delightful discovery. Almost like my little secret.

Mary Lois said...

I've got a ton of those, anon. If I could only remember the titles...

Fishbein said...

The time is near for ML to try a
virtual reality experience. Then, maybe a seance.. with believers...
a joke , eh.
That transposition from obsession to dependence might remove one from real life. Yet, remaining a cineaste, the anticiaption of a new release or the comforting thrill and joy of and old fave keeps one from being a nut job.
I must be one who likes movies but does not dwell upon them. Having the opportunity to enjoy a raved movie can have a down side.
If it fails to hit the mark of its
advertised awe, I may find disappointment . I'd actually rather witness a movie that I know nothing about. That way I can determine my attraction, amazement, emotional release, or whatever , without the influence of pressure that I am supposed to like it. One thing about movies and pictures is that they never change. It is what it is until it is no longer. But, I may change and see it differently.
My choie of genre is fantasy or adventure, especially themes of mythology. They are imaginary, fiction although the characters have people qualities.
Who has seen FREAKS ? It has real people with a plot showing that the freaks are people too. The fantasy there is in feeling to be part of a circus or side show.
I think it was banned from public viewing upon release. Some fo the best movies are not about pretty people.

Nan said...

I loved this post! I am a big movie fan, too.My son liked Paper Heart, my husband not so much. I'll be interested to hear what you say. It is in my queue. I guess you could say tbw, like readers say tbr. (to be watched and to be read) I remember loving Starman. And was very scared by Jagged Edge. :<) I liked an early one The Last American Hero, and Cutter's Way and a whole bunch of others. A great actor who also chose great films to be in. And I couldn't believe the wonder of Meryl S. as Julia. It reminded me of one other performance when the actor seemed to be, as you say, channeling the real person, and that was Capote, with the great Philip Seymour Hoffman. Again, great post!

Mary Lois said...

Phillip Seymour Hoffman was excellent as Capote, Nan--but don't miss the film called Infamous, a more entertaining movie with the kind of glam Truman loved. Sandra Bullock played Harper Lee, Daniel Craig was Perry Smith and Toby Jones was Truman Capote. Really folks, it's a don't- miss flick. Not a downer like the Hoffman version.

sean thornton said...

Ya may know already. Ron Mesarro
is a movie nut too. He got all into my space exctied with how to get all the movies one can watch, and then some. Doncha just love his little hat.He said that 3 or 4movies a day is not unusual for him to watch.
He views them on his lap top. I prefer a bigger screen.
Can you find "Gawayne and the Green Knight" with Sean Connery?