i do not love you

I like the movies very, very much and can contentedly spend hours in their company. But there is a difference between like and love, and I do not love them.

I know this based on a weekend’s viewing of two recent movies that were popular, though not overly so: the Robert Downey Sherlock Holmes and the Mel Gibson Edge of Darkness remake.

They were both well crafted and kept my attention, though both wobbled at the end. They weren’t art and didn’t aspire to it.

And having watched both, I have no further desire to see a movie for a little while.

That’s the difference: you give me an average album or average book and as soon as I’m finished, I want the next. The ‘average’ just reminds me of what’s great, and how great ‘great’ is. The average can also suggest all kinds of roads not taken, and make me greedy to try those roads.

Not so with movies or tv, or at least not so much.

What happens when I watch a great movie? Well, I saw The Seventh Seal in its entirety for the first time a few weeks back and was overwhelmed. The half century of pop culture jokes and parodies just fell away in the face of a movie that was deeper, wiser, funnier, more alive than I had dreamed. It was not some young person’s angst about death, which is what I thought I was getting, along with a large dose of unintelligible ‘foreign-ness.’  It was a wonder and just writing about it conjures up scene after scene in my mind.

But I also felt like a man who had been given a lot to chew on – I could not have moved to some other great movie from that, (and still haven’t) and any lesser movie was sure to disappoint. Hence, Holmes and Edge were my first two movies in a while.

There are beliefs about why one prefers one medium over another; maybe you are more an ‘auditory’ than a ‘visual’ learner. (Books are an auditory medium – you hear the words in your head.) Or you’re less of a ‘linear’ person than most movies are, with their plot points, three act structures and the rest – yet music often has beginnings and ends, ebbs and flows, and there is little less linear in a movie than, say, a fight scene or a chase scene.

(Off-topic: my favorite example of ‘non-linear’ in a movie is a car chase in one of the Bourne films. From memory, which isn’t always reliable, the chase ends in a tunnel, but if you look at the individual shots that make up the tunnel part of the chase, you could jumble them up and still make it work with the crash that ends things. )

In my case, I think the explanation is easy: I read from the time I was 3 or 4, and I fell into music at almost exactly the same time as adolescence hit. The wiring in my brain is just stronger for music and reading than it is for watching movies or tv.

The other small thing: music and books are to me more ‘random access’ than movies are. I can dip into a favorite song from an album and be reminded of the whole album; I often read books backward these days, (non-fiction, usually) or even sideways, starting in the middle and going to the end, then returning to the middle and reading backwards. With movies, I don’t do that ever, even with documentaries. It simply never occurs to me. I guess that’s another example of how my brain is wired to easily navigate two mediums, but still struggles with the third.

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