Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sharing Movies.

One of the major pleasures I have experienced over the last several months has been sharing specific selections from my movie collection with friends. It's something that I have always enjoyed doing, and it makes accumulating a large numbers of DVDs particularly gratifying. While I don't have quite the same freedom to watch films at home anymore as I used to (given the noise considerations of a particularly light sleeper), I now have the opportunity to re-watch some of my favorite titles. It's a great litmus test to judge the true worth of any piece of art- how well does it wear on the eyes and the mind? I've been a bit surprised by some movies, and less so by others (given I've seen them multiple times already).

But perhaps a greater reason to appreciate seeing stuff repeatedly is to share them with others who might enjoy them. I try to dedicate a fair amount of consideration into the personal likes and dislikes of my viewing companions. This becomes more challenging when I'm accompanied by a mix of personalities, especially when I have only known them for a short period of time. If you think about it for a bit, you'll realize all that has gone into the formation of your own tastes. Perhaps you honestly believe that you "simply know when you like something", and there's no need to delve to deeply into your preferences. Maybe you feel that you are processing everything on some intuitive level that requires little analysis.

I'll concede that our likes and dislikes are often communicated more so by some "unconscious mind" then by a systematic deconstruction of the merits of a phenomenon. If it were any other way, we'd likely be insane or otherwise so dysfunctional as to make ordinary, everyday living nearly unbearable. Still, we have the capacity for introspection, and we usually apply this resource to something we care about. In my case, cinema is one of those things. When I'm playing something for someone that has never seen it before, I am attuned to their reactions. I find it absolutely fascinating to discover how others react to stimuli that I have absorbed. More than anything else, it helps me learn about myself.

Tastes are so personal that there is no way to make an exact science out of an exploration of them. This is where the nature of art comes in. Its subjective qualities keep it from being reduced to its components. There's a certain (dare I say) "magic" involved in the process of engaging art. Think of the precursors to the modern Western scientists- men of vision and learning that relied on their imaginations to devise fanciful instruments, and through alchemy tried to transmute various substances into gold. That's how I think of the creator... "man the creator", in fact. And somehow I'm thinking vaguely about these things when I sit down in front of a movie with other folks.

People have occasionally questioned my methods in sharing this stuff. I've had some buddies that couldn't understand why I wouldn't put in a movie that I had not yet seen, as evidenced by the undisturbed shrink-wrapped plastic around the jewel case. When I tried to explain why I resisted doing it, they took exception. For some, movies are a social activity. While I love that this is so, I only share that perception when I am watching others watch the movie. If I truly intend on absorbing a film, and giving over to it (whatever it contains), I have to do so in complete silence, and with no distraction. And I don't relish shushing people, especially when I'm trying to learn how they process the piece. It's as simple as that.

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