Saturday 29 May 2010

Loving What You Love And That Being Enough.

I've been really getting into Spike Lee films recently. I never used to be such a big fan, I don't think I was ready. I needed to find my way there. In recent times, I've felt a real yearning for something more from my cinema. Something more meaningful and powerful and influential -- I found it -- I found it by discovering (properly) the work of Spike Lee.

I'm loving his films. Fully engaged in all of them--- enjoying them more than any other films in a LONG TIME. And the best part about it? I really have nothing to say about them. They raise interesting questions when I watch them, and I find them often powerful, always entertaining--- but in terms of blogging here, I have NOTHING.

And it's got me thinking about that very thing-- about how we're always expected to justify and explain the things we love. When you meet someone and say "Actually, I loved Jumanji!," you're expected to explain it, to justify it. We don't ever get to just love films, we have to talk about the reasons. This is a normal thing in life but also, of course-- a self-imposed thing when you become a blogger. You don't let yourself watch or read too much without the inner voice saying "hmm, there must be a blog in this..."

Thinking right back to the beginnings of my love for cinema, and even TV; I used to just love stuff without talking about it. I would stay up and watch episodes of 'Steptoe & Son' on BBC2, I'd laugh hysterically, then it'd be time for bed. Just like when I would order as many Tom Hanks films on VHS as I could find; watch them, love them, then carry on with normal life (making my friends laugh and being ignored by girls and having friends laugh because I was being ignored by girls). They were magic times. Back then, enjoying films was easier. I just enjoyed them. It was my thing. As you become more open with your passions and begin to speak up for them, they kind of become everyone's. Or at least that's how it feels.

I don't entirely know what I'm talking about--- but that's kind of what I'm talking about, that it's okay, who says you need to know what you're talking about anyway? Who cares why you love something or why someone doesn't?

I think we often feel like we need to know why we like something, or why we think it's good. I have, in the past, felt a bit silly for not knowing why I like the films I like, or why a particular director is one of my favorites. It often feels like other people can say "Yes, his style is revolutionary and the tone of his films are influenced by Renoir with a hint of Godard; and his early work is reminiscent of 17th Century elephants which are themselves, of course, symbolic of the thriller genre." But for me, meh-- despite being a writer, director and persistent blogger; I haven't got a clue most of the time. In fact, I hardly even remember the films I love the most. I'll tell someone I love, say, Jerry Maguire, and they'll ramble on about a scene I have no recollection of.

I take in films differently. My style/way/dysfunction is that -- I get engrossed, and then I drop a lot of the info. I forget who did what, and where, and how-- if we both see a new movie and then tomorrow night talk about it, when you mention the scene about the scarecrow or whatever, I'll have no clue what you're talking about.

What I am comfortable with now is: knowing that this is completely fine. It's great that some people leave a movie knowing all the plot points or having thoughts about the intricacy of the Mise-En-Scene. For me, all I am left with is either a feeling of having enjoyed the film, or having disliked it--- and possibly having some other emotion attached to it. That's who I am - that's how I take in movies.

What I'm getting at, I think, although I'm not really sure--- is that, there's no rule that you have to be able to justify why something is good, nor does it matter if you don't remember the scene with the snake, and also -- we all value different things. It is often perceived, and/or can feel like you are less than if you can't quantify or explain something. I say: it isn't important, at all.

I remember when I was younger, I was working in a job-- not industry related.. and my boss told someone I'm a filmmaker. The woman he told came up to me and started talking about my filmic aspirations. It was all very pleasant until she said, pointedly, "Why do you want to make films?" and told me that if I couldn't answer, I'd never be a film director. I tried about sixteen times to answer-- each time she wasn't convinced, and neither was I. I couldn't explain it. I went home feeling like a complete failure, no wonder I was working in such a shit job. Of course, the realization came much later that I absolutely love films; watching and making them; and the fact I couldn't put it into words didn't matter. I put my screenplays into words, that's all that matters. Oppressive people trying to make me feel useless really aren't part of my journey. My lack of an explanation may have made that grumpy, wrinkly lady feel good for about seven minutes; but I have gone on to make films, she's gone on to terrorize more young people with big dreams. I'd rather be me.

Let's take some time to get back to loving what we love! And being happy in the knowledge that even if we find it hard to explain sometimes, that's fine, who says it needs to be explained, or make sense. This isn't an application for a grant, this isn't a police statement, it's the things we love -- it's art, it's life, it's the movies. It's you and me. It needs no explanation.

Care to share?


  1. hello, just thought id say thank you ever so much for following me! it means so much that you enjoy your blog.... and i would just like to add 'I love Jumanji! and I have no idea why' :) xxx

  2. Yeah. One wonders why you choose to write about films, then. I mean, it's "okay" to just "love" a film, that's fine, but to do so without knowing why, seems to be avoiding something. It can just be "it was funny--it made me laugh" "it made me feel like life was okay," "I like that actress...a LOT." say knowing why isn't important as all is "Balderdash." It is okay to like Spike Lee's films (I've been poring over them myself lately), but I think he's gonna grumble that you're missing the point--he's arguing against what you're preaching, which is (sorry for the bluntness): "whatever works, man." Lee's message is "Wake up!" Be aware. Don't take anything at face-value, and most importantly "Don't Be Stupid."

    Or, you're gonna find yourself loving a documentary about architecture and find out it's by Leni Riefenstahl.

    And your "friend" who told you if you didn't know'd never be a film-maker...she's right, but wrong. You can be a film-maker with nothing to say (I doubt that ever lasts, though). Next time somebody asks, a good reply is "I have "control" issues, okay? Go move that dolly track or get me a doughnut." But the most important answer is "I love making films, and it makes me happy."

    Which I think merely confirms your a point. But there's a difference between motivation and reaction. It seems to me you're denying yourself a learning experience, as a human being and an aspiring film-maker, to not know "how things work." I think the world would open up a bit.

    Interesting reading.

  3. Thanks for your comments, fascinating - although I think you misunderstand me. I am not a clueless idiot with no opinions, or a filmmaker with nothing to say-- it's just that I don't always have the words to explain why I love what I love or write what I write!

    I agree, re: Spike Lee! His films are becoming massively important to me and in many ways really open my eyes... But I'm enjoy sinking into them right now without being able to verbalize why I love them so much. My whole point being, there is nothing wrong with this!

    People value, and expect, people to be coherent and strong and exact, like you certainly were in response. However, that's just one style of response/character, and I think there is room to support many others and not marginalize them.

    Welcome to the blog!

  4. Thanks for your kind reply, welcome, and the fascinating reading.

    I don't think you're a clueless idiot (and I think you know that so I won't apologize if I gave that impression). I just think there's danger in saying "I can't explain how I feel and that's okay." It's an anti-intellectualism that gives me the creeps. I also realize that one can purge the soul of a thing by explaining it away--and in film it's as important to feel as to see and hear. But as a craftsman in the field, I think it's a disservice, certainly to yourself, to be satisfied with merely "okay."

    But, what do I know? If it works for you, who am I to say?