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Scorsese Wins the Oscar

Scorsese Wins the Oscar - On Saturday night I went to the engagement party of my cousin, R, and we were sitting around the pool in her apartment complex celebrating that. A bunch of my other cousins, who I hadn't seen for fifteen years, were there, as a brief aside for those of you who keep up with that sort of thing. That's not really up for discussion here in public, however, but the guy who lived in the apartment block, and who with his girlfriend and friend, came down and sat in the spa, are, though. Because this guy was what many of you will be able to recognise as a Film Geek: he professed to own over a thousand DVDs, and have them catalogued on his computer, and organised into genre on his shelves. He was a good looking, rich film geek of a guy, with a good looking girlfriend, and I'm sure, somewhere in his apartment, were files for the scripts he wrote, and cameras for the short films he made.

At one stage my cousins and him were discussing Al Pacino and someone (I forget who now) wanted to know what films he was in. The Film Geek rattled off a few, and I added Dog Day Afternoon, which made him turn to me and say, 'You must be a bit of a film buff, huh?'

'I like films.'

'To reference Dog Day Afternoon, though, you gotta fancy films a bit.'

I just shrugged. It's an old film, made before Pacino started chewing on the scenery, and not a bad one at that, but it hardly rocks my world. If anything, I like the title more than I like the actual film, and if I could, I'd steal it.

'So what's your favourite film then?' he asks. 'I got a theory that everyone's favourite film says something about them.'

'I dunno, I like a lot of films--I don't really go for that favourite thing.'

'You must have one.'

I hate those kinds of questions--there's more to the world than one kind of film, and more than one kind of opinion, and I always struggle to find a way to explain without coming across like an arrogant shit. Eventually, I said, 'I like Jim Jarmusch films.'

'The black and white one with Johnny Depp?"

'Yeah, but Mystery Train and Ghost Dog are the ones I like the most.'

'That French speaking shit in Ghost Dog sucked--that film sucked.'

'So what's your favourite film?'

I figured he had an answer and he did, real quick: 'Fight Club.'

The first word in my head was 'dilettante', so I suppose he was right about his theory that favourite films say something about you.

Comments

ataxi
Feb. 27th, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
"I figured he had an answer and he did, real quick: 'Fight Club.'"
Interesting. I used to have a theory about guys whose stated favourite movie is Fight Club. The theory was more or less that they liked to call it their favourite movie because they thought that made them look:
  • smart (because they thought it was complex, or even, in the words of one guy about whom I had this theory, "the biggest mindfuck of a film ever made")
  • coolly desensitised (becauses it pushes lots of the right buttons in terms of violence / transgression)
  • knowledgeable (because by an entry-level standard it is even slightly offbeat/obscure
That is Fight Club, somewhat like, say, books by Ballard or Nabokov, or films by David Lynch, is art you can say you like of which the saying-so reflects well on your masculinity.

But now, a bona fide hipster wannabe who has already had this insight tends to reject any of the potential positive connotations of such obvious material, so enthusiastically liking Fight Club was (for the nascent hipster wannabe inside me at the time) almost entirely a negative since in my view the film was not particularly complex, not particularly transgressive or violent, and not particularly offbeat. Another rung up on the hipster ladder going along almost exactly the same axis as Fight Club would be to say you were an enthusiastic fan of Oldboy ... but then the true hipster wannabe would probably also reject that as too obvious.

Likewise it's a hipster no-no to suggest that knowing about almost anything (and definitely a mid-level classic like Dog Day Afternoon that pretty much any film student would be familiar with) is surprising or a sign of buffdom.

This is the sort of dynamic that, taken to the extreme, rules those insane LJ ratings communities like fuckyoucrew. At some point the discernment of true hipsterness becomes such a complex reaction of competing factors that the self-appointed authorities of such communities can't explain their ratings even to themselves and begin to deal in vagaries backed up by enthusiastic handwaving.
angriest
Feb. 27th, 2007 04:21 am (UTC)
I think you're seriously underrating Fight Club, which would easily be one of my favourite films because it's a good film rather than because I think it will make me look cooler and more intellectual by saying I like it. I also really enjoyed Old Boy.

Surely the first rung of film fan "hipsterness" though is liking Tarantino - or is he too 1990s now?

ataxi
Feb. 27th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
Actually, I really rather like Fight Club although I stand by my description of it as "not particularly complex, not particularly transgressive or violent, and not particularly offbeat". But I agree with your comment that it's good "because it's a good film". Particular strengths include casting (could be argued to be all of the main cast's finest moment, I think, which has to mean something), the Dust Bros soundtrack, and of course the actual story and set-pieces from Palahniuk's book.

My theory of guys who say Fight Club is their favourite movie had more to do with why I thought they were saying that, anyway.

I'd love to see a film of Palahniuk's Diary ...

As far as the rungs of hipsterdom go, wouldn't know except to say that liking Tarantino doesn't impress me! (But nor does dissing him ...) I'm pretty far from being a buff of anything for what it's worth.
angriest
Feb. 27th, 2007 04:56 am (UTC)
I think most people who deplored Fight Club for its violence simply hadn't seen enough Takashi Miike flicks.

Tarantino is enjoy a lot, but I don't think his works are great art by any stretch. Reservior Dogs and Kill Bill were lots of fun, and Pulp Fiction was awesome. Jackie Brown I can live without.
ataxi
Feb. 27th, 2007 05:05 am (UTC)
I still have a backlash thing going on about Pulp Fiction because I got so incredibly annoyed by my mates ranting about how great it was when we were all seventeen. (Imagine having Jackson's rant about the "path of the righteous man" poorly delivered to you every lunchtime for six months and you'll get the gist).

The Kill Bill movies, on the other hand, I liked. They may be crap in many ways but at the same time, they're a bit like icecream on warm donuts - you get several different types of fodder you normally enjoy separately all added together when you watch them.
capnoblivious
Feb. 27th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC)
(Imagine having Jackson's rant about the "path of the righteous man" poorly delivered to you every lunchtime for six months and you'll get the gist).

Heh. Happened to me, too; I shudder at the memory.
ataxi
Feb. 27th, 2007 06:01 am (UTC)
Obviously there's a generation out there in need of support groups for this kind of trauma :-)
benpeek
Feb. 27th, 2007 05:05 am (UTC)
Surely the first rung of film fan "hipsterness" though is liking Tarantino - or is he too 1990s now?

as tragically uncool as it might be, i like tarantino films.
ashamel
Feb. 27th, 2007 11:49 pm (UTC)
I really like it too. I wonder if people who say it is their favourite (in a shallow way, which seems to be the point we're making) do so because they see it as a celebration of Tyler Durden and his philosophising. It seems to me that is not the case.

I think we have had this conversation before.

What if I liked Kill Bill 1 but not 2 so much? My hips are lop-sided. I must see Old Boy though.
benpeek
Feb. 27th, 2007 05:04 am (UTC)
That is Fight Club, somewhat like, say, books by Ballard or Nabokov, or films by David Lynch, is art you can say you like of which the saying-so reflects well on your masculinity.

nabokov is brilliant man--and totally unlike those others, i think. the ballard i could maybe see, but i think there's authors who fit that more, such as FIGHT CLUB'S author (whose name i can never remember how to spell right).

but i see you've given a bit of time to this theory :)
ataxi
Feb. 27th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
Nabokov is godlike, no denying it. I've read Pale Fire and Pnin, and there's only one or two other books I can think of that make my jaw drop to the same extent in sheer admiration of the crystal, spiny, infinite, twisted intellect behind it all. Joyce, Proust or Dostoevsky? Don't go near it. They do bring other things to the table, though.

But saying you like Nabokov is perfectly possibly about defining your personal traits to an audience. If I was in a conversation and I thought my interlocutor was trying to impress how great they were upon me, then them saying "Nabokov is my favourite writer" would tend to confirm that hunch.
benpeek
Feb. 27th, 2007 05:16 am (UTC)
i've never read PNIN, but i plan too.

i guess saying you've read an author doesn't impress me, these days. it's been a whole long since i've been in that kind of place where people try that--but i tend to think someone like bukowski would rate higher than nabokov. maybe kerouac, moreso. i remember people trying to be impress me with those guys.