Sunday, February 10, 2013

Life is But a Cinematic Dream...

I'm a movie guy. No surprise. It's not simply evident from the wallpaper of this blog (that's a still of Orson Welles on the run in THE THIRD MAN), or my discussions of my journey to becoming a screenwriter, or even my opinions on the latest Oscar race.  I've lived my life acting as though there was a camera catching every event and every nuance, right down to making faces at my own private phantom cinematographer.  So I've had my own little reality show playing in my head for decades.

Though that may make me sound like I should be booby-hatch-bound, I believe we all recall events in our life with similar cinematic clarity.  Sure, we may not have John Williams accentuating the memories with a tremulous score, and the perspective of our minds' eyes is more likely to be static as opposed to a melange of angles and movements -- but each of us directs our own lifelong home movies.

And when we watch actual films, every once in a while you will be struck by a sequence, a scene or even simply a line of dialogue that hits home.  You instantly connect and relate; it may make you smile in recognition or need to wipe away a tear, but it's powerful as any song or piece of poetry, and it's all done in a matter of seconds.

I neither love nor hate the film AMERICAN BEAUTY.  But the 20+ seconds of dialogue that starts around the 1:55 mark has stayed with me since I first saw it fourteen years ago.

When I hear those words about the beauty in the world, it just devastates me.  For I know I have felt that way at different times in my life, often taking the shape and form of someone that I undoubtedly idealized. It's not the world, it's just that one person. Whether it happens at the age of sixteen, or just the previous night, when the emotional tumblers click into place -- this is the movie moment that gets spliced into my consciousness once again.  

Of course, the sad truth is -- moments such as these are often followed by a one-two kick to the teeth and gut.  We all experience periods of acute regret and sorrow.  Sometimes we're the victims of another person's insensitivity, sometimes there is no one to blame at all.  But when we choose to blame ourselves, this is invariably the movie scene that I feel attaching to my soul like a face-hugger out of ALIEN. But this clip isn't from that's from BOOGIE NIGHTS.

Seriously, has there ever been a more uncomfortable 25 seconds put on film? Simply gut-wrenching and awful all at once. But is there a more perfect illustration of how one feels after making a stomach churning confession only to be rebuffed?  Whether the stakes are a job, a relationship or anything else you may want or need, there is nothing more admirable than taking a chance.  But few things are as upsetting as the potential rejection.  Just ask Scottie (the Phillip Seymour Hoffmann character above, not me). 

But where there is sadness, there is also joy. Now, there have been hundreds of movie scenes revolving around pure happiness.  But few films can brighten up a somber soul like SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. It's as powerful as an adrenalin hypodermic to the heart.  And if your heart is ever feeling bruised (metaphorically speaking), a scene like this can work better than any drug or therapy.

It definitely makes ME wish I could tappity-tap-tap my blues away.  One can also go with the "Make 'Em Laugh" number, or the "Good Morning" scene, or the "Fit as a Fiddle" bit...or better still, just watch the whole damn movie!  It's physically and emotionally impossible NOT to be in a good mood after watching this film.  

Come to think of it, I may just do that today...

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