I recently came to a disturbing realization. It’s hard for me to admit this to all four of you at once, but… somehow, recently I think… through some weird lycanthropic transformation… I became a movie snob.
I’ll give you all a minute to collect yourselves. I know that’s a shock. Believe me, it was to me, too.
See, I’d never really considered myself snobby about anything, much. Okay, well, maybe I’m something of a beer snob lately, but look, Budweiser tastes like piss, okay? Sorry. I like my beer to require some sort of conversion. I may as well pour that stuff right into the toilet.
But it’s one thing to be this way about beer. Compared to movies, beer occupies a very small corner of my life. No more than, say, eating. But movies should require no special pedigree. Each one should be judged individually and on its own merits. Like defendants. Innocent until proven guilty, right? I mean, it’s no fair comparing Predator to The Godfather, is it? Or Airplane! to Schindler’s List?
Airplane! and Predator are both great movies. Not great like Schindler’s List and The Godfather, but on their own merits, based on their own ambitions and execution. And lets be honest, we’ve all seen Airplane! way more times than we’ve seen Schindler’s List.
And yet, the other day I found myself talking with some friends about The Prestige (over a nice pitcher of Stella, I might add) and attacking it for basically being a mind game. I felt that, after Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan had the chance to make just about anything he wanted. And with the thematic resonance of Memento, the brilliant character work in Insomnia, I was disappointed that he chose to do something so… slight.
But here’s the thing. The Prestige isn’t a bad movie. It’s one of those Entrapment-type movies that’s basically trying to put one over on you but telling you that that’s exactly what it’s trying to do, and daring you to put all the pieces together first. And while some of the twists and turns along the way stretched the credibility a bit, at the end of the day, Nolan fooled me.
On top of which, the performances by Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine were all good. Scarlett Johansson was mostly irrelevant, but very attractive in a corset. The production design was spectacular, the cinematography beautifully composed. It’s not one for the DVD shelf, but certainly worth the matinee price.
But the way I explained my displeasure to my friends, what I realize now is that I wanted Nolan to make Amadeus, and he went and made Ocean’s Eleven. Classic snobbery.
Now compare this to a conversation I had just few years earlier with another friend after seeing Reign of Fire, which I kind of enjoyed. I asked my friend what he thought, expecting- as we so often do- the validation that he kind of enjoyed it, too. Instead, he said, and I quote: “I thought it sucked.” I asked him why and he said, and again I quote: “I thought the character development sucked.” Character development?! He went to a movie about dragons destroying the earth for character development?! What a…. a… snob!
Only now it’s me. I came to this world-shattering realization thanks to my good friend and colleague, Made You Laugh. As we were strolling the lush gardens and gilded hallways of tvgasm headquarters, discussing our very divergent opinions on the A&E telepic Wedding Wars and romantic comedies in general, he suddenly announced, as though struck by invisible lightning, “I can’t believe it. I thought you were a movie fan, but you’re a movie snob.” I immediately retorted with my ardent love and obsessive repeated viewings of that Victor Salva masterpiece: Jeepers Creepers 2. To which he replied, and I’m not even sure he’s going to let me leave this in here, but it’s such a perfect metaphor that I just can’t resist: “You’re like that racist Republican who hides it by telling people exactly how many black people have been in your house.”
And then it hit me. He was right. That’s exactly who I’ve become.
So I turn to you, my faithful flock of moviegasm readers to say… how many, exactly, are required for a flock? Okay, that’s not it. I’m sorry. This is difficult for me. What I mean to say is…
Help me. Help me break this curse. I want to love movies the way I used to. I want to frolic through B movies about giant, genetically engineered boa constrictors battling giant, genetically engineered pythons! I want to giggle when I think about the number of times I’ve seen Casper van Dien get killed onscreen! I don’t want my three Netflix to be obscure, character-driven Scandinavian films! Damn you Lars von Trier!!!
What do I have to do to change? What should I watch? How many times? And should I call you in the morning? These are the questions I need answers to. Don’t make me have a telethon. I can do it, people. The halls here aren’t gilded for nothing, you know.