Friday, June 25, 2010

Cinemania


A documentary about obsessive movie fans in New York

There but for the grace of God go I.

Watched the documentary Cinemania, about a handful of people in New York City with an obsessive interest in film.

They didn't want to make movies. They didn't want to write about movies, either as critics or as theorists. They just wanted to watch them. Several a day.

One was a kindly-looking old woman who became fascinated with movies in 1950. She wanted to see movies from every country. But she was a rather nasty person who would occasionally attack people and try to strangle them. She attacked a ticket taker at the Museum of Modern Art, tried to strangle her and called her "evil" because she tore her ticket in half and gave her the stub. She was barred from that theater. So she put on a wig and make-up and tried to sneak in. Security threw her out. She was shocked that it didn't work.

Another one joined an on-line dating website. For his profile, he wrote an extremely long explanation of what kind of movies he liked.

Bridgitte et Bridgitte

It made me think of Luc Moullet's movie, Brigitte et Brigitte. The two Brigittes take a film class. It becomes sort of a parody of the French New Wave. One Brigitte interviews a cineaste who says his greatest ambition is to "die while watching a movie."

The people in Cinemania were eccentric but not amusing. One wanted a cell phone so he could call the projection booth and tell them when it was out of focus or if he imagined there was some other problem.

These people lived horrible lives. One lived on an inheritance. Others were on disability and one was collecting unemployment which was about to run out.

But then again...

Jon Jost argued that movies were "brutalizing". They're about people who are richer than you, better-looking than you and lead more interesting lives than you. Makes you feel bad about your own life. Jost was probably right to some degree.

Well, this movie is a pretty good antidote to that. You don't walk away feeling inferior to the people on screen.

On the other hand, the eccentrics in it seemed happy enough with their lives. They weren't, as Jost imagined, wishing they could be the characters in the movies.

Now that I think about it, maybe my judgment of them is the result of watching too many movies.

It's like when PBS put on that cinema verite show about the Loud family. Critics viciously attacked the poor family essentally for being actual human beings and not fictional TV characters.

Perhaps I was judging the weirdos in this movie as movie characters, not as people.

Anyway, it should make people who watch a lot of TV feel better about it.

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