Monday, May 12, 2008

The Golden Age of Film

This weekend I realized the truth about movies, again. That’s how life is, I believe, learning the same lessons over and over again until you die, and by that time, hopefully you understand everything that you should.

The truth about movies is that modern films suck. Old films have it all.

Just ask Stoker. Finally, after all these years, I sat down and watched Cool Hand Luke. Stoker watched it with me, but I said “I” in that last sentence because I have known that I ought to watch this film for a long time. At least since my first years in college, but I put it off and put if off, since I’m not a huge Paul Newman fan. I’ve got my Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, and from time to time Rock Hudson and Robert Mitchum (I’ve heard tell that Gary Cooper should be in there somewhere, but I’ve never indulged in a Gary Cooper film). So anyway, I should have known. I should have known better, should have seen Cool Hand Luke a long time ago.

Anyway, Stoker, bless his insight, pointed out that the Coen brothers’ style isn’t really a style at all, it’s a rip off of the techniques from old films. And I mean, the day before we watched Cool Hand Luke (I was very sick this past weekend) I watched (again) North By Northwest and had noticed the same thing. Recently Stoker and I rented and viewed that let down film, No Country for Old Men, and what we loved about it (didn’t make up for what we loathed about it) was the absence of a film score. Older films didn’t have overproduced sounds. Many of them DID have film scores, but there is a distinct absence of, say, a microphone right next to the actor’s mouths, so we don’t have to listen to the suction and sloppy noises of a kiss. C’mon! Who wants to hear the details of a kiss!? No one. It doesn’t ADD to the moment, it’s a distraction!

Anyway, though I love many of the Coen brothers’ movies, I have to say, what I realized this weekend is that I don’t need to overdo it. My first love was correct and true. My first love, which bloomed in junior high and high school, was old films. There was a short period during graduate school when I watched an old Cary Grant show and felt a little embarrassed at its innocence, and I swore I’d never go back. I was cynical and bitter, I thought my eyes had been opened to the real world and that I finally knew what great art was. But I was naïve to assume so much.

The truth is, old films are pure and untouched by the dirty hands of modernity. What directors like Hitchcock couldn’t say outright, they said through implication and innuendo, they crafted a story around what could not be explained and in doing so, shed light on the dark corners of the human psyche. They created meaningful dialogue through what was said as much as what was UNSAID. Their sparse sets and stark images, such as those in North By Northwest (i.e. the scene outside the United Nations), say as much in the positive space as they do in the negative spaces. The color in North By Northwest is gorgeous. Tell me, have you ever seen anything like it?

In any case, I have always known that Stoker is a genius. He understands things and he has ideas about things. I’m an idea-lover. I can’t help it. And when I hear his ideas, I realize I’m madly in love with him all over again. Tonight or tomorrow night, I’ll finally see a Steve McQueen movie. I had this mentor a long time ago who raved about Steve McQueen. All this time I’ve never seen a Steve McQueen film. Can you believe it? It’s nice to still have things to do even though I’ve lived such a long life.


sgt said...

Nikki, very well said. You're so beautiful! In spirit, thought, word and deed, as well as visually. I love to read what you write, you're the best! I love Stoker too!
Much adoration, and love,

Aries327 said...

Thanks mom!

I'm so proud of you, learning how to leave a comment and all. Ha ha. Soon you will take over the interwebs.

Hasenpfeffer said...

Holy harkin' heck, Steve McQueen fills my fantasies and addresses me in dream on a bi-weekly basis. He's arsome. The Hasenpfeffer was also very surprised/excited to get a little note from you at ye old, the only TRUE source of happiness.

Aries327 said...


Steve McQueen, eh? Great to hear from you, even if you DO speak in riddles. I'll reserve my opinions about Steve until AFTER I watch The Great Escape.

Anonymous said...


The great escape is good but not the best of McQueen. Check out "The Magnificent Seven" and watch how he is is constantly stealing scenes from Yul Byrnner by adjusting his hat or smirking when Brynner is overacting. Yul blows this movie and McQueen and the others saved it. I've been on a McQueen kick lately too, having watched "Papillon" and "Lemans" within the last month. The first is his all time best and the latter is just for car lovers.

Love your blog. Your writting is always top notch.

Love DAD

Aries327 said...

Hey Tip! Thanks for the advice. You have good taste in movies, so I'll try them out (except that for some reason you liked that horrid Richard Gere show about learning how to dance. What was that called? It was unexpected, that's all, and I'm not saying you can't enjoy a good romantic comedy . . . it was just . . . unexpected).

And that bit about living such a long life, that was a joke. No one gets it, though. It's awesome.