Thursday, April 3, 2014
Riske Business: To Queue or Not to Queue
A short while ago, I was at a crossroads. And I should only be at a crossroads if I’m about to watch 2002’s Crossroads.
Darkman. How about exercising tonight? Not so fast, fatty; The Lady from Shanghai isn’t going to watch itself.
It seems to be an obvious choice right? I should trash THE LIST and blow up THE STACK. Because that’s living. I have done this in the past and it’s liberating. I am taking back my life, like in the column I wrote about with walking out of a movie. But I can’t always do it. I have a movie sickness. I don’t want to miss anything great. I have this recurring nightmare that I’ll get to Heaven (which I’ve heard is "for real”) and Roger Ebert will ask me to come over for Steak & Shake and to talk about La Dolce Vita. “I haven’t seen it,” I’ll have to say. He’ll then call me a bitch and shun me for eternity. I’ll have to chase after him on my cloud dragon screaming “But I own Amarcord! Come baaaaaaaaaaccckkkkkk!” Or if Pauline Kael asks me if I’ve seen Last Tango in Paris and I say no but that I’ve watched Surf Ninjas maybe 20 times. Talk about a faux pas, yo.
This whole problem started back when I was in college. I was a big slut but I was watching garbage. My cultural acumen went from late high-school ambitious -- when I was seeking out Stanley Kubrick movies for the first time -- to watching Pay it Forward and listening to sorority girls talk about how powerful it was as we got drunk on lemonade mixed with Everclear. Then I took a film class and my professor gave us a syllabus of 25 movies to watch during the semester spanning the decades of the 20th century and touching on themes and events he wanted to use to provide examples of the times. This is how I saw Sunrise, Odds Against Tomorrow, Bonnie & Clyde and Dogfight for the first time. I not only enjoyed those movies, but got an invaluable living, breathing representation of the '20s, '50s and '60s in culture and attitude. I loved it and I wanted more.
And don’t get me started on THE STACK. Last September, I made stacks of movies I wanted to get through for Scary Movie Month and it was over 100. I would have to watch three a day, which means not going to work or talking to anyone for 31 days. If I did, I guess I’m a failure. What was I doing to myself? I ended up getting through maybe 60 movies last Scary Movie Month and I actually felt bad, as if I hadn’t done enough. What an idiot!
I came close to finishing THE LIST another time. I was in the last lap and checking off movies I needed to see at one of the old Music Box Massacres. I only needed to see Dark Night of the Scarecrow and I would be done. THE LIST would be finished and I'd be the best moviegoer I could be. The movie comes on and during the opening credits, G-d...my body...something led me to want to leave. RIGHT NOW. RIGHT AWAY. So I did and didn’t finish THE LIST. DNOTS was not on DVD at the time so if I didn’t see it at the Music Box, I was fucked and couldn’t finish THE LIST. It was a moral test of oneself. As I walked to my car, I felt great. Not finishing THE LIST made me feel better than finishing THE LIST.
Do I stress out that I’m missing a great indie or a classic movie? Yes, absolutely. But part of the fun of not having a plan is I always find what I want to watch when I want to watch it. I don’t have to grit my teeth and get through something and as a result I probably enjoy a greater ratio of the movies I watch. Odds are if it’s a great movie (and it’s for me), I’ll meet it somewhere down the road. I have to trust that in order to keep my sanity. The movie will be more enjoyable because I came to it on my own terms and not according to an overambitious quest I impractically assigned myself to see 1,001 movies that I need to see before I die. I’d rather just die than watch every movie on that list. It’s too much fucking pressure. Besides, there’s going to be a movie that’s added to that list after I’m dead and I’ll never see that one either. So me dying is going to be identical to walking out on Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Imagine that.
Movies are my favorite hobby. They should be a finite joy and not an infinite task. Plus, there’s some lady out there who has no idea that she’s going to have my babies. It will be unexpected and glorious and not because she read about me in Roger Ebert’s The Great Men.