Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fasten Your Seatbelts, Part 1

How do you watch a movie? A play? How do you look at a painting or a sculpture?

I only ask because I had friends over yesterday to watch a movie, and the difference in the way they watched it and the way I did was striking and made me wonder if that divergence didn't make me just too weird for words.

Of course, I know enough people who aren't weird in any way to know that I am, or can appear to be, downright bizarre. I admit it. I lug around a good-sized bundle of weirdness on my shoulders, but it's not a heavy load, and I'm strong enough to carry it. I enjoy it mostly. It gives me spiritual bulk and heft.

Let me try to explain what I'm talking about.

Last week, over drinks with these friends, they let it slip out that there were certain movies they had never seen, classic films. One was All About Eve.

I, being old enough to have grown up during a time when it was generally believed that there were certain cultural milestones one should experience in order to consider oneself a viable member of the culture in which one lived, decided to rectify the situation and invited them to my home to see this movie, a copy of which I own. Doesn't everyone?

They were delighted, and we all got together on Memorial Day to watch it. I had asked them not to look it up on the Internets so their viewing could be a real cherry-popper for them. So they didn't. And it was.

But they watched it differently than I did.

They sat back with glasses of wine. They spoke back to the screen. They traded quips with each other and with Bobby and me. One doubled his pleasure by alternately watching the movie in short bursts of attention then turning that attention to researching aspects of it and its cast on his cell-phone.

I was amazed at the flurry of activity. And, although I had once mastered the low art of multi-tasking during my years as a drone in the civil service, I'd never liked it and I considered it unnatural. At least, I found it so for me.

On the other hand, I don't mean to say I'm one of those people who focus on a thing to the exclusion of whatever else might lie in my peripheral vision.

What do I mean to say?

Let me try and get my thoughts together.

4 comments:

  1. I can't bear to miss a single word of dialogue if I'm watching a (good) movie for the first time. The slightest interruption will prompt me to "rewind." 

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  2. And most movie scripts don't come near approaching the level of All About Eve's. I'm suckered in by the first lines of voice-over and can't stop watching and listening until the end, no matter how many times I've seen it. There's a whole class of movies like that. You want to watch them again and again.

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  3. Oh, I am so glad there are "others" out there, just like me, in regards to viewing movies! It drives me crazy when people start talking or asking questions, while viewing a first time movie. I think that is why I don't go to movie theaters for first runs, anymore. Only if it's a visually big movie, than I want to see it on a big screen. I thought I was becoming an old poop. Thank you for the affirmation.

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  4. Oh, but it's more than that. Stay tuned ;-)

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