From time to time over the years, people who know me have said . . . always in passing, always as if it were a self-evident proposition, and always as if they were engaging in understatement . . . some variation on "Boy, you really love film, don't you". I've been hearing it most of my life, and God knows I've provided people with enough cause to make that observation, but . . . frankly, I don't know that I do, or that I ever did.
I'm certainly obsessed with cinema; have been from the time I was a lad of just fourteen years. It's a story I've told elsewhere, and perhaps I'll retail it here some day, but from that age my life was centered, almost inexorably, around this strange, incantatory medium; consuming and being consumed by it in (roughly) equal measure. Like so many cinephiles I would never begin to count the hours I've spent watching, reading, writing (trying to) and talking about the twisted splendor of the moving image. The final tally would, I'm sure, be too depressing, too nakedly revelatory. I couldn't handle that numerical epiphany, not even with 80 proof fortification to pave the way. I question how many cinephiles could.
A friend of mine . . . one who makes his living teaching otherwise sensible adults with too much disposable income on their hands how to watch motion pictures . . . gushed to me a couple of years ago in an email about meeting a movie reviewer of immense status among his peers. His excitement was palpable (and by the way, this is not some annoyingly reverent and idealistic kid cinephile we're talking about here; this guy is middle-aged working on superannuated) So much so that when he highlighted the fact that this eminence had actually consented to shake his hand, a thought instantly occurred to me:
We cinephiles really are the Arts equivalent of Trekkies, aren't we.
About five months ago I posted a few cryptic words about receiving an incensed email from a film studies professional. I never disclosed any of the specifics then, but I will now.
The scholar in question is one Berenice Reynaud, who teaches (though she does not like that word) at CalArts. Her outrage was occasioned by my referring to her as a "schoolteacher" in an article on Barbara Loden's 1970 film 'Wanda. It was published in 2006, during my short association with Ray Young's majestic Flickhead.
Why it took her two solid years to express her outrage (I mean, even if she hadn't seen the piece, surely someone would have passed along word of so grievous an insult); indeed, why she appeared so determined to be outraged, that's something which I fear will remain always a mystery . . . and not a terribly interesting one.
I'm seriously thinking of taking my name off the roster over at Bright Lights After Dark.
The thought has been rolling around my skull for a while now. I can't remember when I contributed anything to it that didn't originate either here or at that other blog I'm involved with; and even if I had I can't believe they've been thrilled to have me since my stream of articles for Bright Lights Film Journal itself fell to nothing almost two years ago. As I say, it's a course I've been considering for some time, but as is usually the case with these things, I've heretofore been reluctant to pull the trigger, as it were.
I think I am now.
The other day a post appeared in that blog which, for reasons I will confess are not entirely known to me, left me both pissed off and marginally outraged for quite a long while. I'll not go into details except to say that that it contained a plug for a certain film jourinal whose talentless majordomo once attempted to play a very very filthy trick on this reporter; one that would have finished me off in this racket more thoroughly than if I had photographed myself pouring pig's blood over the George Eastman House archives and emailing the spectacle to every cinephile in Christendom. Other words, Instead of it taking a year for me to be deemed unpublishable by any so-called serious film journal, this would have done me over in a matter of weeks.
Now in absolute fairness, the plug-ger at Bright Lights After Dark could not have known any of this, and I've got no beef with anyone over there. I only mention it because my inner-reaction surprised me: It was lethally (and, as I say, inexplicably) cold; and for whatever reason, it boiled down to a single sentence: I can quit this blog now.
Dunno if I'll actually do it, but I now realize (as I did not before) that I can.
A sentence I wrote last evening:
Paul Thomas Anderson, the candy-colored Renoir who may yet be the last major American filmmaker to have emerged in the twentieth century, entered this one with a project that, by any rational measure, seemed to have doom written all over it.
Don't ask me why I write this way . . . if anything, I understand it even less than you do.
As you no doubt can tell, my resolve to maintain silence on this blog until October 1 . . . when an agressively unfinished, rather bleak article on Billy Wilder, 1964's Kiss Me, Stupid, the death of the American 'auteur' and the cinephile vultures who profited from it (then and now) is supposed to materialize . . . has gone the way of all flesh.
That said, I don't know that there'll be another post on this blog before the fall arrives. I only know that the last post wasn't the penultimate post. For all I know, this one is.
A Relevant Quote:
"And then I got just plain lonely and just so fed up with all the badness in my life and in the world and I said to myself, 'Please, God, just make me a bird - that's all I ever really wanted - a white graceful bird free of shame and taint and fear of loneliness, and give me other white birds among which to fly, and give me a sky so big and wide that if I never wanted to land, I would never have to.'
"But instead God gave me these words, and I speak them here."
-- Douglas Coupland