Monday, January 30, 2006

Slow declines

I was looking at some stills from "Raging Bull" on a DVD-reviewing website tonight, and was struck by the difference in intensity in Robert De Niro's eyes then, and now. The guy's obviously been phoning it in for years now, and who can blame him? I guess everybody gets tired of their day job eventually, no matter how fulfilling. The only difference is that people aren't cumming in their shorts because we're giving them lackluster results. If we phone it in at work, we get yelled at. If De Niro phones it in, some 29-year-old director has multiple orgasms because a legend is standing next to him. I wish he would just retire and get it over with. But what else would he do? Maybe he doesn't want to retire, and who am I to tell him he should? He doesn't owe us anything. We're lucky to have what he's given us. It's just that I'd rather see him give lousy performances than the zombified mediocrity he's attached himself to for most of the last ten years, give or take a couple of brief revivifications. Why are these old Hollywood guys so afraid of giving up their star salaries to actually do some fucking acting in good films? They're already rich. Why not take that pay cut and give some real acting a whirl again? If I liked sports, it would probably be like watching Michael Jordan's professional baseball attempts or George Foreman's last few fights. Except I don't like sports. I like movies, and most audience members seem content to watch our best athletes play their B-game.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The middle seat

I was at the Dobie Theater on Monday, watching Jia Zhangke's The World (which is one of the most cinematically satisfying films, in its use of visual space and the movement of the actors and the camera through this space, I've seen in a long time) when I saw another example of the Middle Seat Maneuver. I see this all the time, but I was surprised to see it at a screening of a 2 1/2-hour Chinese art film. The Middle Seat Maneuver, otherwise known as the I'm Not Gay, occurs when two men attend a film screening together but leave an empty seat between them to loudly signify their heterosexuality (or possibly their closeted, self-hating homosexuality). I don't understand this move. If two men go to a movie together and sit next to each other, I don't jump to any sexual conclusions, and I imagine most other people don't, either. If, however, two men perform the Middle Seat Maneuver, I immediately assume one of three things about at least one of the men: 1) Raging homophobe. 2) Horribly insecure man. 3) Closeted homosexual. Come on, guys. The Middle Seat Maneuver arouses exactly the kind of suspicion you're so desperately trying to avoid. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt, though. Maybe these guys are not trying to advertise their pussy-nailing abilities to a theater full of strangers. Maybe they're worried about ruining their friendship. Maybe they're such passionate cinephiles that, when touched deeply by a film, their hearts erupt with feeling and they start to make out. This would, of course, damage their friendship. They can't afford to take that chance. Their friendship is too meaningful, too important. In this day and age, when corporate greed, terrorism, warfare, and the 311/Creed altercation are part and parcel of daily life, this devotion to a lasting friendship between two straight men must be congratulated and saluted.

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