what came first, the music or the misery?
People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands, of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music? - Rob Gordon (John Cusack), High Fidelity
More importantly, do I watch too many movies because I have no life or do I have no life because I watch too many movies?
Note, of course, I acknowledge there, it's "too many" movies.
First, regarding the movie that's on right now--High Fidelity--there is an excess of voiceover here, but this is one of those movies that knows how to use voiceover, how to use it to actually add to what's happening on screen. Plus, the voiceover is not quite voiceover, rather Rob tends to talk to the camera, so it's voiceover plus fourth wall breaking. It shouldn't work, but Cusack has the charm to pull it off. Roger Ebert has a nice line in the opening of his review:
The movie looks like it was easy to make--but it must not have been because movies this wry and likable hardly ever get made. Usually a clunky plot gets in the way, or the filmmakers are afraid to let their characters seem too smart. Watching "High Fidelity," I had the feeling I could walk out of the theater and meet the same people on the street--and want to, which is an even higher compliment.
On that last note, it's that same thing I've talked about with Linklater, effortless embodiment of character*. Looking at the filmography of the director, Stephen Frears, it's not like this is the kind of movie he makes all the time.
* plenty of effort going in to Barry Judd (Jack Black) but Jack Black's schtick is to expend a whole lot of energy into his characters, playing hyperactive manboys who are quite full of themselves. It's interesting, though, to have that Jack Black persona in a supporting character here, when I'm used to his bigger roles (like School of Rock).
This is a film about--and also for--not only obsessed clerks in record stores, but the video store clerks who have seen all the movies, and the bookstore employees who have read all the books. Also for bartenders, waitresses, green grocers in health food stores, kitchen slaves at vegetarian restaurants, the people at GNC who know all the herbs, writers for alternative weeklies, disc jockeys on college stations, salespeople in retro clothing shops, tattoo artists and those they tattoo, poets, artists, musicians, novelists, and the hip, the pierced and the lonely. They may not see themselves but they will recognize people they know.
It occurred to me this week, while listening to a Cinema Sins podcast and they were telling stories from when they worked in movie theaters, I didn't work in a movie theater nearly long enough. I mean, considering how much I've been into movies since, well, since I knew what movies were (hell, even before that, probably), working at a video store or a movie theater seems like an obvious step in my twenties. And, I did work at a movie theater for about six months when I was nineteen. A new supervisor who was an asshole got me to quit before I managed to spend my twenties working a movie theater... Although, really, a video store makes more sense in retrospect, and I never worked at one, even though we lived a couple blocks from an awesome one for years. Rented plenty of movies there, including (deliberately) a whole lot of garbage. Should have spent even more time there, picked obscure but entertaining films to show on the TVs in the store, talked about movies with my fellow employees and all the customers, get to know people and know movies and know movies through people and people through movies.
I wanted to go to film school out of high school. When I have told people at school about this blog, more than a few have asked why I'm a Comm major and not TV Film. Good question, I suppose. But, I like teaching. TVF ain't getting me to teaching. Not as readily as Comm will.
But movies... When I think about ending this blog after this third year, I just want to do something else about movies--a podcast, a YouTube thing, something. And, I would love to teach something where I can incorporate more about movies, like when we watched the beginning (only) of When Harry Met Sally... in comm theory class, or all of Gung Ho in intercultural. Plus, there was that media theory class last year that was all about movies, a movie a week and I wrote my final paper (put together in pieces here in this blog, actually) on Moulin Rouge!.
Actually, you know what I wish I could actually do. I mean aside from actually turning a bunch of this blog and stuff from my thesis and whatnot into a publishable book and getting that published. And, if that were a way to get some of my old manuscripts published, that would be cool too, but now I'm just dreaming and I'm supposed to be beyond dreaming. I spent my childhood--and I've detailed some of this in this blog before--unprepared for the future, unable for the most part to plan too far ahead. I'm supposed to be past that now. Most of the time, I feel like I am. But, hey, I'm an American; we're supposed to have outlandish dreams about money and fame and all that bullshit. Not that I want money or fame, necessarily. I'd rather have an obscure sort of fame, like some kid like me back in my twenties hunting down a copy of one of my books in a used bookstore (because those will still be around in the future, of course), or finding one of my first movies or something. I never really wanted to be famous. I just wanted to do something I enjoy and be able to live off that. Who doesn't?
But, something that seems... Worth doing, yes, but also poetic. I had this notion I wrote up in the aforementioned comm theory class about showing Groundhog Day to different (read: different religions) audiences and there would be questionnaires before and after and the proposed study would have compared the results. But, the lesser (read: still so doable) version is to make a documentary about all the screenings, nevermind the different audiences, just show it a lot of places and interview people after, like 50 states, 50 (at least) screenings.
But, I'm still dreaming.
All I want to say is that "High Fidelity" has no deep significance, does not grow exercised over stupid plot points, savory the rhythms of these lives, sees how pop music is a soundtrack for everyone's autobiography, introduces us to Rob and makes us hope that he finds happiness, and causes us to leave the theater quite unreasonably happy.
More on dreams tomorrow.