Thursday, March 12

Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Goodnight

Maybe you saw it.  Maybe you didn't.

Maybe you liked it.  Maybe you hated it.  Maybe you were indifferent.  

Maybe Jim Carrey bothers you so much that you couldn't like it even if you did find it interesting. I can understand that.  

Maybe you are shocked that I would be partial to such a movie.  Or maybe not.

But enough about you.

I"m not so sure it's about liking or not liking.  Oh, sure, I can--and do--say "I loved that movie!" with as much sensationalism as anyone.  But really, the few movies that I can watch over and over again are not often those in which the cinematography is terrific (although I love that) or the plot is gripping (although that helps) or that made me laugh--or cry--until I nearly keeled over (although those are memorable).  The films that stick withe me are ones that have something in them, something that I'm not sure about, something that leaves me wondering or unsettled, sometimes for years.  You know, something I "don't get".  Maybe that's true for all of us, but I'm not convinced of it, at least not yet.  

I remember a conversation I had several years back with friends about movies and TV shows and books that we liked.  Although it probably says something about the company I keep, we quickly moved from titles to the "sorts" of films or books that we liked, then moved just as quickly to a recognition that although we liked some of the same things, our motivation differed.  The split was clearly along the escapism/recognition continuum.  My hypothesis is this (feel free to blow it right out of the water, I'm ready for ya):  Some people go to movies to escape their lives, and some people go to movies to remember their lives.  Or maybe that's not quite it.  How about this:  People go to movies for all kinds of reasons.  But the movies we love, the movies we can watch again and again, generally fall into one of those two categories. Even if  don't know it.  

On the other hand, maybe I'm just egocentric, and I'm the only one. That's okay, too (just go ahead, make me feel alone in the world, no problem).  In any case, that is surely how it is for me.  I rarely go to movies to escape--it's just never worked.   I like lots of movies.  But the ones I love, if you want to call it that, are the ones that sneak up on me during a dinner conversation, ten years after I have seen them, for no apparent reason.  I love that kind of synchronicity.

As you probably guessed by now, being the smart cookie that you are, that's what happened tonight.  As I ate dinner with my daughter (in a Chinese restaurant that is located in what used to be her school, which is still too strange), I suddenly found myself telling her the story of The Truman Show.  Explaining it, like a parable, which it is.  Wondering what she would take from it. Wondering why it was suddenly in my head, when I haven't seen it in years, and it is so different than nearly any other film that I like.

This is not a movie I would say I love.  It's just a movie that has got something in it that sticks. Some people think it's a Christian allegory--the evidence, including chapter and verse, is all over the web.   Feh.  Some people think it's a mockery of television, which of course it is (especially reality TV).  I don't know what it is, really.  I just know that I suddenly thought of it and started talking about it over egg drop soup and lettuce cups.

I mostly thought of the boat bumping into the wall.  That's the image that sticks--and that makes me wince.  Not the prophetic ascension, or the inhumanity of living in a false world, or God as television producer.  The idea of setting out bravely, against all odds, for places unknown, bumping into unfathomable and unscaleable barriers that could never have been anticipated...and keeping going.  The fact that it's fictional, pure fantasy, doesn't bother me one bit, mostly because I'm not convinced that we're not all part of someone elses story, fiction or fantasy in ourselves.

In any case, it made for good (if out of left field) dinner conversation.  Phoebe was interested, as I knew she would be.  She had endless, deep, fantastic questions and hypotheses which deepened my uncertainty about the movie--is there any better kind?   

And get this.  It made me think about joining a talmud study.  I know--The Truman Show?    

Call me crazy.  Call me anything you want, just don't call me late for dinner  (Tonight's quip sponsored by Mary Einzig).

See ya at the movies!


Anonymous said...

I think there are many lessons we can learn from the Truman show. That movie is like read Brave New World. When it came out, people dubbed it fantasy or science fiction, but look at us now. The whole world twitters and facebooks and blogs, and now we narrating our every move willingly.

Audrey said...

OK-some thoughts:

1. I think people also go to the movies to see possibilities beyond their lives--sort of a riff on remembering their lives.

2. I remember the boat, and his tears, and thinking how awful that must have felt, and cheering when he got beyond it.

3. Would love to know how Phoebe thought about it. You gonna watch it w/her?