August 12, 2014
Throughout my life I always wanted to be elegant, like Alfred Lunt dinning with Radclyffe Hall at the Stork Club, but eventually I end up in a party quoting Sam Fuller “Film is like a battleground: love, hate, action, death… In one word, EMOTION.” The truth is I used to believe that the cinema was the ultimate art, and I think it was in the 20th century, but now it’s a shadow of what it used to be. For me, it’s music and of course the written page. What I find fascinating is watching contemporary films hitting against the concrete wall over and over again. It is like a moth that is attracted to the flame, either it is too stupid to realize that it will get burned to death, or it is an act of suicide?
The beauty of the cinema was the theater itself, and the tacky sodas and candy sold at the counter. My parents said to me that there were bats flying near the ceiling at the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Bouvelard. This little (non) fact made going to the movies into an adventure, and there was a slight chance one’s life will be altered forever. For instance, I remember seeing “Taxi Driver” for the first time on Hollywood Bouvelard (always the same street), and walking out and seeing a fleet of taxis in front of the theater. Was it a William Castle type of publicity, or just by chance? I suspect it was just happenstance, because what I saw in the theater, changed my life, and that is exactly how I saw the “real” world. Either by the hook or the crook, the world was transformed by another medium, the cinema.
The way we see films really changes the perception of that work. It’s very difficult for me to watch films on TV, computer or the phone. Although the medium has changed, cinema pretends that the format doesn’t matter, when in fact, the medium is the message. I tend to like to go to the cinema in a different country or culture. When I was in Mexico I saw a Cantinflas’ film “El analfabeto” (The Illiterate), and what I found interesting is hearing that Mexico’s reigning illiteracy (70% in 1930), and "Cantinflas is the illiterate who takes control of the language by whatever means he can". The ability to alter a situation or culture I think is pretty null, when it concerns the movies. What I think are my favorite films are all from YouTube, and it is mostly acts of violence, for instance the citizen of Gaza being shot down by a sniper. That type of footage seems to kill the imagination where it is very difficult for me to believe in the choreography of Michael Kidd, along with Gene Kelley.
What I do know, is that I can trust the cinema of Ron Mael (Sparks), because I see the images through his music, and the same when I read a book by Radclyffe Hall. Also I find it interesting that Alfred Lunt, as an actor, chose the theater over film. He realized the difference of the cinematic world, with its close-ups, montage, and other visual trickery, that it can’t replace the fake realism of the grand stage. I often dream that I am walking through Broadway and seeing the glamour of the lighting of the live theaters, and knowing that I will eventually end up in a broken down movie theater with a sleeping projectionist. Despite the fact that I wish for the grand and elegant life, I will settle for the cheap cinema. All my friends go there.