One of my dearest pals asked me just a few moments ago! Good question! Answering this is a kind of extrapolation of taste, and taste is something I’ve been curious about for many long years now.
On on the outset I might say I missed a lot of old movies. There are, of course, many thousands that most of us have never seen for one reason or another, poorly marketed, lack of availability or just lack of time. For instance, I’ve been wanting to see I Am Curious Yellow for decades. I forget, then I remember, then I search, and its nowhere to be found on my streaming services. So it goes back onto a mental shelf of unseen, but critically well regarded films I hope to locate. Of course I seek out art directors, and unusual movies to mix in with the inspired schlock. Inspired schlock? Right, what the hell am I even talking about?
Typically, I set out to see films from a certain era. The era I was born and grew up in. An era that was interested in free love, psychedelics, great rock music, and possibilities surrounding self-indulgent self-exploration. It’s a time when some of my favorite writers produced some of their best efforts. I keep thinking this is going to give me insight into who I am, because such films were speaking to the world’s customs and culture. But I reach back a bit further at times, and try to answer questions about what drove Beatniks and what inspired other artists. It is all one long chain of influence after all.
I like puppets. Do you like puppets? Sure you do.
But that’s not all. There’s more. That’s really just the lake I cast into hoping to pull out a rare species. When I refine my tactics what am I doing? I’m both looking for something titillating and surprising. Something not a formulaic blockbuster necessitating babies born, weddings had, dance sequences and preachy moral press-ganging. I’m also allergic to the gun-crutch every film seems to need to lean on. I’m convinced the average movie-goer isn’t going to be satisfied unless there’re people shooting one another and I’ve long ago lost interest in this as a story-telling device. I’m convinced that when Chekhov wrote his famous line about introducing a gun and the inevitability of said gun’s use, he meant it not as a rule of good art, but as a complaint about predictability and conformity. After all, he was a famous critic of technique and artistic stagnation.
So my films are about renegades and by renegades. They’re about monsters and their loves. They’re about resolutions that don’t involve ass-kicking, or if there is ass-kicking it’s satirical or so inept as it probably should have been satire. I also have a fondness for plainly “bad” (tiresome, ponderous, or cheap) movies if there is earnest love involved. Irony became too beloved by late Gen Xers and requires a complimentary note of sincerity for it to survive. Too much sincerity soon resolves itself into irony anyway.
Who am I to judge? Who am I to say? When we die will anyone be able to, or for that matter care to, correctly express our intentions or dearest wishes? It’s something to think about, unless all we’ve done is endlessly pull a rug out from one another, shrug our shoulders and insist that we don’t care.
I like movies that care! I especially like awkward things that are so lodged in a period they no longer do what they were meant to do. Best of all though I like surprises, not just boring reversals of gender or simple representing of the foe as a friend but an entirely mind-bending, trope-disposing story-telling. Burroughs instead of O’Henry. I don’t even know the names of directors I don’t care about. I’m a bit like the entomologist who only knows the names of pest species.
Sometimes I know what it is I want only after I’ve found it. How does one describe the color unseen, the sound yet unheard? The paths we follow do things to us and that’s what I’m interested in. In the end I write to entertain myself and my friends (my muses) and my choices tend to touch what it is I want to say.
Stop trying to say good or bad, or liked or didn’t like (those meaningless baby-blurts) provide no wisdom. Thanks for reading!