My cousin doesn’t understand my work, movies bore him, he says, but I don’t blame him, since in his mid-twenties and according to him has never seen a black and white movie all the way through his cinema appreciation is in the dumps. Double that the only movies he’s actually seen have been post 2000s, positively the most arid artistic period in cinema’s existence, you can understand how he was not hooked as a youth. I began to ponder the question: how does one make a film fan out of an adult?
Probably as easily as one makes a fluent speaker of Russian out of an adult.
The thrill of movies is the suspension of disbelief, the continued unbrokenness of a dream, the ability to suspend disbelief and maintain an unbroken dream varies with age. So, with that in mind, lets us build a theoretical person, a non-fan of the medium: He will be male (the list will alter should it be female), he shall be twenty-five years old, he shall be an avid reader…his medium of choice.
Then we must examine the joy he receives from his chosen medium: like movies, the thrill of good writing is the unbrokenness of dreamscape, so we must select for him films that roll-out much like a novel, that appeal to his mind, emulating a written narrative. He’s used to doing the imagining for himself, and his inner space is rich with examples that he crunches to create the visual, he’ll buck at having the visuals chosen for him, so our selections must provide him the necessary freedom to see it on his own OR be those where the visuals or pretty much what he, or anyone, would imagine. So, my selections for him are:
This was written as a film in such a way as it would be inexpensive to produce, so in doing so Quentin Tarantino made a film that was completely adaptable as a novel and HAS been adapted as a stage play (in Italy). There are few locations, and each location, if described in print, would be exactly…almost…what everyone would imagine…everyone’s been in an old warehouse, a diner, a car and an office.
Because our film-hater is a fan of words, and words well written, there’s plenty for him to sink his teeth into: The intro diner scene is about more than Madonna’s Big Dick, he’ll know that by instinct, the subtle ironies which are explosively huge once discovered. Also: the last guy alive being the guy who wouldn’t tip (first scene and last scene connected, a common novelist mechanism), and the real hero of the piece (the cop in the chair, about to be burned alive until Orange shoots Blonde. This meant that even though he had a family and was about to die one of the worst deaths possible, he didn’t give up that the cop bleeding on the ramp twelve feet to his right) would come out in thrilling relief to him. The realness of the violence (our man is twenty-five)
No! Get off! My Jason Priestly sideburns are NOT douchey!
And the fascinating character development: “Why am I Mr. Pink?”
You’re a faggot, all Right?! Not that that isn’t a uh…a beautiful, lovely…uh, choice, a beautiful, completely legitimate… disgusting… vile….” “Joe?” “I said ‘Beautiful and lovely’, didn’t I?!”
Along with such items as the ‘Commode Story’, a tale within a tale within a tale (the cop in the bathroom is telling a story inside the story of Orange as he tells White and Joe Cabot, inside the story of Long Beach Mike, the lie of his Orange’s identity).
“So she pulled down her shirt and I saw her bra.”.’” “No way!” “Way.” “No huh-way!” “Way.”
Would fill our film-hater with love for the medium and give him gratitude and understanding as to why it’s popular.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Mamet can miss, but even his misses are fun. This one is no mistake.
“The leads. How did Mitch and Murry acquire these? The old fashioned way, house to house, 3 AM, till people pulled a shotgun on them…pussies use phones, gentlemen!”
Did our theoretical friend ever wonder what it was like being a salesman, you know, a real one (working behind the counter at Forever 21 doesn’t count, you Gen Y sculptors you), like a documentary (probably the only film our friend has seen and liked) the written word, even fiction, can reveal hidden patches of human existence heretofore undiscovered by the reader. Hence this prize by Mamet, who not only sold real estate but was, for a time, a cabbie in Chicago, too. Our friend will appreciate the claustrophobic ‘edge-ness’ these men exist upon, a revelation of the constant mind-game salesmen, first, perform on themselves, then, their customers, THEN! each other.
“Is there an absolute morality? Is it wrong to wear scuba flippers and a sombrero to a friend’s wedding? Can’t say. What I can say is: I had a good time, the bride still hates me but I hate her, so, who gives a shit.”
John Carpenter’s Antarctic horror. Our friend will appreciate the premise that an alien can make itself into a complete copy of its victim, the who-is-it-now tension and mistrust is a tone only captured as well in novels, but what we’ll point out to him is the visuals, the grotesqueness of the alien as it transforms your buddy’s head into a spider has to be seen, no matter the richness of his imagination or the skill of the pen he’s reading, that’s a spectacle that requires cinema.
“Spiderhead or no spiderhead, don’t think all this gets you out of doing the dishes Barry!”
The Wicker Man (1973)
This is layered cinematic literature that our friend will appreciate: a detective story inside a comedy of manners inside a whoa-what-a-weird-town milieu.
This could’ve easily been one of the novels our friend treasures, or, at least, a short story of great repute, but it was written for the screen instead. That’s another point we’ll bring up to him, some of the best stories are ‘proprietary’ to the medium, and skipping film will deny you a deep and intellectually enriching experience like The Wicker Man. The Wicker Man is completely un-PC, fearlessly so, in its theme. Meaning? It’s theme actually says Christianity was right and all others are wrong, and like any good story they fool us, make us think the lead detective’s Christianity and his stodgy monocle-dropping are the butt of the joke, but when they contrast his Christianity with their, very real, Paganism, the difference is thunderous.
He may be stodgy and he may say Now-see-here-Sir a bit too much, but that is far and away better than the reality of paganism. Would a pagan come out to a fruitless island searching for one lost little girl he didn’t know…no. The Sergeant’s passion to discover this girl is born out of Christian-need to ‘spare the innocent’, the same need that makes him stodgy about naked ladies, whom he’s attracted to, but whom he resists. And Britt Eckland is hard to resist:
(Tell you the truth, it wasn’t Britt that made me excuse myself suddenly to go to the bathroom, it was this woman:…Ingrid Pitt.
This woman would know nothing but internal hemorrhage if I EVER got my hands on her
……and pelvic trauma………………………………maybe some bruised boobs…[WHAAAT?! I like to slap’em sometimes. Jeez! You know what, screw you, I’d be slappin’ those tits like they had Mexican candy in’em. Pffbbtt!])
Bad Lieutenant (1992)
Another relentlessly un-PC flick that’s in the style of one of the old medieval morality tales (complete with appearance of Jesus) our friend read in ‘Survey of Western Literature’ three or four years ago (because he’s twenty-five). In these, as in those, an evil man redeems himself and which, at the point of redemption, Jesus physically appears.
Our friend is used to the author taking moral stances without concern for whom it offends. That’s the ethos of the written word. So, when he sees it on film no matter what his placement, he’ll be enamored with the story of this man, this disgusting, self-besotted man, and his callous abuse of power and the tension of bookies finally having it up to here.
“Gross, Ma, it happened, I TOUCHED IT…I touched my poo! ! I don’t know how it got on both hands! And for some reason it’s on my back! There’s a good chance it’s in my hair!… there’s little in my ear……maybe my left nostril…PAPER TOWEL,Mom, don’t ask questions!!”
Our book-reading buddy doesn’t flinch at a thing like nun-rape, because he’s read it all before, he won’t skip a beat when Jesus shows up or the Lt. smokes crack (or meth, some crystallized drugâhe uses a pipe, is what I’m saying) with the men who gave the nun the old in-out-in-out. But he might just be revolted when Harvey Keitel forces a teen girl to pull her pants down so he has something to look at while he ‘spanks the poodle’, so to speak.
“Ummm, uh [gum smacking] Is it legal for a cop to do that in the middle of the street, I mean, it’s not St. Patrick’s Day and you aren’t my cousin Brian. So….”
But, ‘revolted’ in a good way, in a way that makes him rethink his anti-cinematic lunacy.