Wednesday, August 29, 2007

299 Words, 2 Images

I just read an amazing piece over at Broken Projector. Gautam Valluri is pledging to write interesting things about cinema as a whole in 299 word bursts. I was duly inspired to write my own take-off on the idea. Due to my ongoing 24 Words Per Film project, I'm used to writing within ultra-specific wordcounts.

Check out Gautam's brilliant piece (itself inspired by David B Dale's Very Short Novels) before reading my response, which I humbly offer below.

299 Words (& 2 images)

When I watch a film I’ve seen a dozen times before, I'm not just staring at light on a screen: I am remembering myself. (I stole the last half of that sentence, wholesale, from Gautam Valluri.) Some films I watch like a ritual and each one is at the service of another memory.

The Burbs: I am up way past my bedtime. I’m laughing with my dad: I am getting the jokes. It’s like a horror movie, but it’s not. And then the dream sequence comes, and Tom Hanks is stretched across a barbecue and my little nine year old heart can’t hardly take it.

The Breakfast Club: I’m home sick from school. The VHS tape is old and you have to fast-forward through the commercials because it was taped off of t.v. Or maybe you’re too lazy to fast-forward through them and so the commercials become part of the film.

Dazed and Confused
: The room is filled with smoke and noise. The t.v. is on in the corner but we’ve all seen the movie too many times to actually watch it. We spill our plastic cups of beer and repeat our favorite lines though we can’t hear them said.

Do I return to these films because I want to return to the circumstances under which I remember seeing them? Of course. Film is a nostalgia trip. The preservation of the dead. A time machine. A walking, talking portrait of the past. Tom Hanks doesn’t make Joe Dante movies anymore. Judd Nelson isn’t cool anymore. I’m not in high school anymore. And yet, and yet… we are. Matthew Mcconaughey is still driving around in that damn car. Molly Ringwald is still the prom queen. And I’m at an eternal kegger, plastic cup in hand, eyes glued to the screen.

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