Monday, November 1, 2021

Living Your Inner Life in Public: The Lure of the Love of Film

A couple of things, movie-wise, have been converging around me lately. Powerful things...things that are hard to put into words. But, I'll give it a go.

First, I've been watching a whole lot of films starring my favorite actor. I think I'll leave him out of it for now, since I've written so much about him. I've been moved to tears (I'm crying a lot know how it can be) not by any specific film, but by coming to understand what makes a performer an artist. It's generosity. They can be the most talented, but without generosity there can be no greatness. The ones who hold back, who keep something apart, you can have them. Now, can you think of that performer who you love, who speaks to you in a language of feeling, who takes your breath away by willing to expose the most deeply felt emotions that real people struggle to hide? Then insert that name in your heart, for they are generous with their gifts. They sprinkle the ordinary with stardust.

Second, I actually went to the movies for the first time in well over a year*. What brought me to tears this time was not the movie itself but the coming attractions. So many exciting thing to come! I've been so insulated in my home watching movies this past year and a half that I forgot what it felt like to sit in a theater. With people. Watching those trailers, I realized there are those out there still creating stories meant to move us, excite us, amuse and thrill us. In this time of such civil ugliness, there are still people who are invested in the magic of visual storytelling and who long to take us on that journey.

And it's a funny journey, isn't it? Norma Desmond says we are alone in the dark. On one hand that is true. Our experience is singular. Anyone who breathes movies can tell you that they stir a rich inner life, a private world that is precious. That world can bring great joy and also serve as a ballast against troubled times. If you are lucky, it will never leave you. On the other hand, we sit among our friends and strangers, sharing a common experience. We hear the chuckle, the sniff that precedes the tear, and we become part of a shared journey.

Will the movie-going experience ever be the same again after we've gotten so used to watching everything under the sun on our large, high definition televisions? I simply don't know. I recently watched "Cinema Paradiso," not only a love letter to film, but one to that paradoxically communal and intimate experience of entering that very sacred portal to an inner life.  Amazing how something so fixed and permanent as a piece of film can lead us to a nostalgic past, a hopeful present, a deep and longing passion, a soul cleansing belly laugh or all of the above all at once.

Truthfully, there are no words to adequately describe these moments, but all I could do is try. The best movies are never real. How could they be? They are real plus, real extra...masquerading as life, but with that extra bit of beauty that defines some sort of art.

*Oh, and for those 2 idiots who were seated in my row...if you want to have a running commentary between you 2 during the film, please go home and watch movies on television. When you are in the theater, you're not in your ****ing living room. 


ClassicBecky said...

Well, Chick, you may have thought it would be hard to put into words but you did a wonderful job. Your feelings mirror my own and I'm certainly old enough now to know that they will never go away. They are as much a part of me as my eyes, my heart and my right arm. I miss theatres too, and the people who talk and text there are beyond selfish. Bugs Bunny would say "What a maroon!" and he'd be right. Totally unaware of what's going on around them and don't care. I was at a movie a few years ago with my brother - behind us was a group of very young teenagers, talking and laughing as if no one else was around. I finally just put my head back on the headrest and said "You guys, you are not in your living room." To my surprise, I didn't get back any vulgarities or rudeness. They just literally stopped talking. Whoda thunk it? It was a learning moment. Thank you for another thoughtful and nostalgic piece.

FlickChick said...

Hey Becky - thank you for the kind comments. This year has certainly been a time for us to all get back to our true selves - no faking, right?

ClassicBecky said...

No faking - it's taking me a little longer to get my first article up (shoot, I have to re-acquaint myself with how to use my blog!) Family stuff going on, you know. But I want this, to write again and also re-acquaint myself with friends and their blogs. It's just time to do again what I always loved.

FlickChick said...

I await your first dip back into blogging. I did not blog for a while )not as long as you, my dear), but some stuff on blogger did change. Good luck!

Silver Screenings said...

Loved what you said about actors not holding back. I recently watched the 2018 version of Little Women, and the young woman who played Jo was amazing. Of course, she stole the film (as Jo's character should), but she also gave us everything she had. Marvellous.

As for seeing films in the theatre, this summer I was lucky enough to see True Grit on the big screen (always fab to see John Wayne larger than life, as ought to be), as well as Notting Hill - not my fave film, but so good to enjoy and laugh with an audience.

Your essay was well written, and poignant.

The Classic Movie Muse said...

Love this article. I agree with Classic Becky - you did a marvelous job putting your feelings into words. Cinema Paradiso is the movie for reminding us of the value of these precious works of art, their influence on us, and the rich inner life you so beautifully described. Thank you for this.

Also, I'd like to invite you to a blogathon I'm hosting in celebration of the 75th anniversary of It's a Wonderful Life. Would love to have you join us!

Here's the link if you're interested:

FlickChick said...

Hi Ruth. As always, many thanks for stopping by. So glad we are able to get back in the theaters and enjoy our favorite pastime the right way.

FlickChick said...

Classic Movie Muse - many thanks for the comment, And I'd love to participate in the It's a Wonderful Life Blogathon.