Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Cinemania

Posted By and on Wed, Aug 13, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Geezer: 2 stars
Weezer: 2 stars

If you think you've got problems, meet Jack, Eric, Bill, Roberta and Harvey, five New Yorkers who must see two to five films a day at the expense of almost everything else, like, say, regular bowel movements. Cinemania (a documentary by Angela Christlieb and Stephen Kijak) hits the screen this Monday at the DIA, and it follows the footsteps of these tote bag-carrying celluloid addicts like a sad dog.

Weezer: I was really excited when I heard that the movie was about these people who inhale film. They're going every day and have to plan their schedules to see if they can fit in as many movies as possible. I don't consider myself on the level of neurosis or obsessive-compulsive about film, or not yet at least. I've gone to three movies in a day. I kind of aspired to be like them, but then, after seeing the movie, it's not a life I particularly want to enjoy.

Geezer: I think all of us have gone through periods where we watch a ton of movies. But watching most of these people was really, really tragic, to see them disregard almost every other aspect of their lives — and living life — in exchange for this experience that's been set up for them. If it wasn't for Jack doing some self-analysis and thinking beyond actually just enjoying the film ...

Weezer: Right, he's the most normal of the group. He's just as quirky, yet you see some other part of his being — he expresses some other emotions there. He's the one who's the huge stickler about the projection.

Geezer: He has a cell phone and phone numbers to all the projection booths in New York, so he can call up to the booth if there's a problem and doesn't have to miss any of the movie.

Weezer: But they all have their particulars, like Eric's a huge musical fan. And there's the really quirky kid, Bill, the young guy who's obsessed with French cinema.

Geezer: At least he has a job — he's the only one, I think. Harvey seems like a little kid; he’s just so excited about going to see the movies.

Weezer: He keeps seeing all the crap too.

Geezer: Roberta is the saddest of all.

Weezer: She says at the end, because the cinephiles watch Cinemania, "Oh, that movie makes me look horrible." And maybe the movie does slight her a little bit, but she did choke a woman at the Museum of Modern Art for tearing her ticket.

Geezer: When Jack calls her movie-watching a disability, to the point where she's on disability, she says something really interesting, about how if someone needs to smoke or needs someone else to do their housekeeping for them, isn't that a disability too? Everybody has their obsessions — they might not be obsessions in the general perspective, but everybody has these things they like in different degrees, and what makes it wrong for someone to have it in a great degree? Jack brought up some great points too, about how in psychiatry, any passionate experience, aside from a sexual orgasm or love, is considered abnormal. You can't win if you're obsessed with something, even if it's a positive thing, so it doesn't seem like they’re getting a fair shake.

Weezer: I think it becomes an issue when you start choking ushers.

Geezer: Well, who hasn't wanted to choke an usher!

Weezer: Wanting to is completely different.

Geezer: I've wanted to just bang on someone talking. Jack says he's ripped somebody's food out of their hands. I totally empathize with him, but he takes it to the extreme when he says you have the right to kill somebody if they're ruining your movie experience.

Weezer: Eric knows all the running times — he always tells the people at the box office if they have their time wrong. I work at a box office. If someone were to tell me that once, I would take a note. If I ever got told twice by the same person, I would get so pissed off: "Oh, yeah, by the way, Swimming Pool is actually two hours and four minutes not two hours and two minutes."

Geezer: Then again, the curator (David Schwartz of the American Museum of the Moving Image) says if he sees one of these cinephiles in his theater, he knows he's got a good print and a decent movie. So he uses them as a gauge that he's doing a good job.

Weezer: I collect my ticket stubs now. I was thinking, oh, man, I've already seen so many movies, but I'm missing out all these years. Then I was like, wait, collecting your ticket stubs from 17 is still pretty impressive.

Geezer: Yeah, that'll change in about 10 or 20 years.

Weezer: Did you see Bill's little first aid film kit that he takes to the movies?

Geezer: They all carry their own bags, their own provisions.

Weezer: But really, the Jack character does save this film. Everyone else is so much of a caricature, so extreme and out there. He's the only one who could maybe bridge the gap, have a connection with the audience. Without him, this movie is horrible.

Geezer: I blame the filmmakers: Because of the poor production quality, the film looks awful. In this day and age it's just unacceptable, especially a movie about cinephiles who wouldn't be able to sit through it, unless they were in it. Also, they need to dive deeper into these people, to help us feel the fascination these people feel, and it doesn't quite make it.

Weezer: I think it would be almost impossible to do what you're saying. It would be good and help the movie, but it's more realistic to make this a half-hour special on the Discovery Channel. I'm surprised that none of them have any really strong aspirations to be on the other side of the camera. Maybe that ruins the fantasy for them.

Geezer: Bill says his therapist told him he needed to be more aggressive. Watching movies is a passive experience, so you have to have some of that aggression, I suppose, to actually put yourself into motion. But then Jack says it's impossible to put a frame around life and make it as intense as film, which I disagree with.

Weezer: I think life will always be an edge more intense than film.

Geezer: It's what you make it.

Weezer: For them to constantly talk about how fascinating film is, this is not a fascinating film. It's very static. It just kind of sits there.

Geezer: It just sits there and watches.

Weezer: I give this a two with an asterisk. Warning: This film is not for everyone and you could easily hate it.

 

Showing exclusively at the Detroit Film Theatre (inside the DIA, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Bruno Tysh (Weezer) is a recent high school graduate. Anita Schmaltz (our guest Geezer this week, though she’s more of a Squeezer) is a frequent Metro Times contributor. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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