Am I Dead Inside?
By: Maor Goihberg
A few days ago I went to the Coolidge to see Best Picture nominee Drive My Car. I heard a lot of praise about it from those who have seen it, saw (though not yet read) a four-star review on Roger Ebert’s website, and of course, was astonished by its additional nominations in the areas of Direction and Adapted Screenplay. It seemed to be one of those landmarks, an achievement in cinema that one must immerse themselves in.
So, that afternoon I walked to the theater. Before arriving at the box office, I heard an attendant announce that they were seating guests for a screening of Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break. Suddenly I was faced with a choice: to finally go and see the Japanese breakout, or get to experience a classic action thriller on the big screen. Surely in a few months’ time I could stream this, as now many can stream Spencer, I considered; how many chances would I have of seeing Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in 35mm?
But I decided on the former: art cannot wait. It was a tiny room, and I had no choice except to huddle into the middle of the back row. There were a couple of trailers, for which movies I can’t remember before we got to the anticipated “Feature Presentation.” I felt somewhat powerless, attempting to allow the film to open itself up to me, so that I may walk into it.
I was not transformed; moved, certainly, but not as much as I believed would be the case. I will not review the film, except to say that it was very well-made with some brilliant performances, but it… didn’t land with me. It’s hard to describe: is it a matter of personal taste? My mood at that moment? Maybe it hit too hard that I did not even feel the effect? Am I now dead inside?
I had the same experience watching Pig, starring Nicholas Cage. I appreciated what they were doing, I admired the skill and effort, but I just didn’t connect with the movie. I could praise its virtues, but in terms of actually enjoying the film, I was left disappointed. At least other people did.
Am I too shallow? I love Bicycle Thieves, don’t I! I love Paris, Texas! I love Wings of Desire! I enjoy auteur-driven dramas; I am capable of transcendence via this medium. I have a soul, which I regularly replenish. So what is it when I fall short, despite the movie’s sincerity?
Maybe I rely too much on other people’s takeaways. If so many critics love a movie, it creates pressure to see and feel exactly the way in which they have, which can disrupt one’s relationship with the film itself. But this is not necessarily the case with me in other instances.
Me and Bobby Lovett were talking on the D-Line about Brian De Palma (I’ve seen Scarface, he’s seen Carlito’s Way). I brought up Blow-Up, which many consider his best; I, for one, didn’t really feel affected by it, despite my appreciation for the craftsmanship on display. “That’s a part of growing up,” Bobby explained. “You can respect what a director is doing while saying ‘that’s not for me.’”
So, maybe there’s nothing wrong with not liking every well-made movie. Maybe we are all individuals who connect to different films, and maybe we should not expect an objectively great movie to appeal to us. Maybe I am not completely dead inside. Or maybe I’m too particular.