Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Leila on Movies and Robert Redford


I'm a movie fanatic! I Love them!!! They are so magical and powerful! They speak to me and I know they speak to you. Not all movies, but many, or at least some have impacted my life, and yours, and the vast majority of first world people on the planet.

I've often thought about why I feel entitled to call myself an expert about movies, why I think I'm someone who has the right to critique them, analyze them, and someone who thinks she knows how to make them (stay tuned for my movies on Oscar night a'la 2010 or later).

Perhaps it's because my mother dragged me to the theatres on campus in Bloomington, Indiana, where she went to undergraduate school as a theatre and drama major. The campus run films were often foreign, second run, and pre-indies (they were low budget, low profile films before this term was coined).

How many nights she'd drop me off at the auditorium that played the movie while she sat in one of her classes down the hall.

I think that I got a movie education (notice I do not say "film".) TANGENT ALERT!
I do not say "film" because I see movies as motion or moving pictures.. aka MOVIES.
And, now it's even more appropriate to call them movies than film, as many movies are not shot on film, so that calling movies "films" is now quickly becoming an anachronistic misnomer.

Okay, I think that I got a movie education from birth, as my mother, a certified movie freak, made sure that I not only saw every movie showing in town, but that I saw them more than once. Why? Well, as a working, single mother in school, she found that it was easy in that town and time (Bloomington, Indiana 1970s) to use movie theaters as babysitters. If she had to work or go to class, I most often got dropped off in care of some friend or other of hers who worked the box office and concession stands, with the agreement that they'd make sure I was "looked after".
Well, her classes or work shifts were obviously longer than 2 hours, the result of which was that I'd watch the same movie two, sometimes three times in a row.

This caused me to become very curious about them, very observant of them, astute in the craft of moviemaking, even. And at such a young age! I sat for hours, days, weeks, months, through my formative years listening to Gene Hackman in Copola's The Conversation, witnessing the decline of American values in The Godfather, became a feminist from The Marathon Man and Annie Hall. Memorized every line of every Woody Allen movie from 1974 to 1992, from the gloriously whacky Sleeper to the much underrated Shadows and Fog.

The great thing about this movie theatre babysitter was not only that I slipped away into a more interesting, usually more intelligent, creative, and consciousness raising world that was the movies, but that I also got to eat chocolate covered raisins, popcorn, and rootbeer- things my mother would NEVER let me touch, unless it was Christmas or my birthday. I'm really glad, now, that she did not raise me on white bread, twinkies, and Kool-Aid, but at the time I considered it serious neglect. I can't remember the names of the people who'd "babysit" me at the movies, but I know they'd always slip me my box of popcorn, my rootbeer, and my raisinettes back when raisinettes had real chocolate and were YUMSIE!

As if that wasn't enough to make a young single digit aged girl happy, there was a really small, hole-in-the-wall candy shoppe (that's how they spelled it) right next store to this one theatre that I loved, The Indiana Theatre (now known as the Buskirk Chumley, which still runs indies and art films and also hosts festivals and live stage performances - cool!
The odd thing is that a Mongolian family owned it, and they served the most amazing egg rolls, like the size of burritos! To this day it's the best egg roll I've ever had and I'm real bummed I can't find or figure out how to make some like them.

Okay, so there I am in the theater, either being "babysat" or with my mom, when she dragged me to things like The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, The Exorcist and The Shining, oh my! How many hours did I take in the antics of Felini and follow the long narratives of Bergman's masterpieces,how many times I had to endure Smokey and the Bandit and Freaky Friday...

All in all, this crazy hippy, so 1970's flower child way to be babysat had a good impact on me. I think I learned a lot, not only about movies, but about humanity, about the world, about being alive, about people in particular and in general, about stereotypes, history, politics, and famous figures.

To this day, I really see movie watching as a very special and important activity that calls my attention to it in a most serious and reverent way.

Over the years I started noticing all the things that go into making a movie. I'd notice and call out continuity errors, cock my eyebrow when I noticed a flat line delivery or odd edit/cut.
I came to deeply care about the writing, just about more than anything. Of course, I admire and respect and hail The Director. I usually feel most happy and appreciative when a movie is written and directed by the same person or a team that often or always works together.

This is when I realized that, as a writer, yes over the years I became a writer. I realized that is what I am. I merged my love of movies with my passion for writing and started penning screenplays and writing up production schedules and logisticizing over shots, locations, editing and directing my movies.

And I learned about the importance of craft, on all levels, from all the people involved in the making of a movie.
I have the most amazing excited respect and love for the people who make it all happen and come together. I realized that I abosolutely have to be a part of it!

So, that big tangent leads me to discuss Robert Redford's new movie, Lambs for Lions.
Over the years, I've always felt rather neutral toward Robert Redford. I mean, yeah Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, All the President's Men, I KNOW I KNOW he's GOOD!
But for me, something clicked and I really grew to respect and appreciate him with Sundance and his support of Independents and global causes.

It is with excitement, curiosity, and hope that I look forward to his new film, Lions for Lambs.

I feel that it holds the promise of something transcendental in moviemaking.
I feel that it promises to shift the consciousness of the viewers.
And THIS is the magic of movies that I'm talkin'...

Changing consciousness.

That's what it's all about.



Alessandro Machi said...

Are you sure that most films are not shot on film?

Don't confuse Hd broadcast with meaning the show or movie was shot on Hd. 35mm film is still king, and I still enjoy shooting in Super-8 film.

a Lost Coast Media Endeavor said...

Hi, and thanks for leaving a comment!
I think you are responding to my statement that, "many movies are not shot on film".

And this is true: many movies are not shot on film.
I'm not talking about all or even most movies, and I'm not talking about television.

I love watching and even making Super-8 films myself, and I still have this crazy old camera and projector to do it with!