In writing about Inglourious Basterds (again) on his Scanners blog, Jim Emerson referenced an Alfred Hitchcock quote in which Hitch said that his films are not slices of life but slices of cake.
I am a big fan of neo realism and gritty tales of everyday life. Whether from the Pre Code Era or a recent independent film, I like a good movie that shines a light on life's truths, however unseemly they may be.
But I also like ice cream and dancing and raucous celebrations and a toe tapping rock songs from the 60s. Most of all I like art, in whatever form, that wakes me up, shakes me up and takes me up, up, up. Move me, man, move me. I don't always wanna just sit here, mind alert but feelings numb. A bite of good rich chocolate, The Who singing Behind Blue Eyes, watching His Girl Friday (1940) things that make my senses stand up and shout, "yipeee!"
Why am I addicted to working out? The endorphins, man. Totally high off them for hours after. I don't walk after a work out, I strut. Hear the music before turning on my iPod.
What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play. I don't know if life really is a Cabaret (1972), old chum, but it can be a real gas. Sometimes you've got to touch it. Grab it. Then hold on for dear life. Cool ride.
Tarantino totally did it. Right up there with his own Pulp Fiction (1994) and works of so many auteurs, he did it with Inglorious. Not off the high yet, 24 hours later. A work out in between so I'm buzzing. Bees be jealous. Oh sure I'll come down. Come down and sit for a bit. Gotta get a dose of reality. Read the news and see what...but not yet. Not now....
See, this is what movies can do. Be the cake. But no calories, no starch, no fat just the deliciousness. The yummy. You get it from the Marx Brothers, from Preston Sturges, Ernest Lubitsch, Cary Grant, Bonnie & Clyde (1967), Goodfellas (1990). The nerve and the verve. They dared to be different. They dared to be good. And they were. No they ARE. Great art is eternal. The paintings of Jan van Eyck and Sandro Botticelli ain't going nowhere. They, like ET are right here.
A terrific film like Inglourious Basterds will have me appreciating other films, and music, dark chocolates all kinds of stuff. It's like its contagious. Our senses are heightened and we want more. The soul is hungry and must be fed. Nourish it. With cake!
Great art offers the unexpected or gives you a different look at the expected. That's it! It's different. Sturges, the Beatles, Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Unexpected. Different. Not just rock n roll or vanilla or a comedy. Not just anything. You know where else you get that feeling? From love. That's why falling in love can be so scary. You've got the rush of the roller coaster and you're not sure its safe. It's actually riskier than a roller coaster, more danger of getting hurt. But the ride is sooooo fun. Thing with love is, that it may hurt you but the rewards! Love makes you experience your life. You're not walking by it anymore. You're in it. Deeply involved with your existence. Great art (and you and only you can be the judge of what's great) involves you. Can't just watch or listen or taste or feel. It's more.
Am I serious that a movie can be so profound? Maybe not for you. Maybe you don't like chocolate. We're all different. Me I don't go backpacking. I don't listen to punk. Don't do it for me. But a great film touches a part of me that's not easy to access. If you've spent some time on this planet and you've seen some difficult times (affirmative to both for me) then you really, really appreciate what you love. I mean it lingers after the moment. And I don't want to go all R rated on you but its the difference between making love and just having sex. Sex good. Love making goes beyond the moment of apogee.
So all this from a Quentin Tarantino movie? No, no, no that was the spark, great on its own terms but of a larger picture. One in which the senses are alive and enjoying. Let us eat cake!