Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's Cold Outside Eden

Growing up, movies weren't a major influence in my life. As a kid I mainly read mythologies, then middle school it became Japanese manga, by high school it was poetry and contemporary Chinese literature (and, who am I kidding, Asian pulp fiction). Up until then, movie watching was serious entertainment. No matter it was in the theatre or at home, movies are watched in complete silence, no lights. Absolute trust is given to the film. The fact that heroes can jump off trains or be dragged behind a car unscathed was never questioned. If a character declares love or hate toward another character, that must absolutely be what he/she feels. When the music turns soft, I automatically feel sorry for the characters. My sister cried at the end of Con Air.

When I attended the dramatic writing program in college, most of my new friends were horrified that I've never seen...well, apparently, anything. I was immediately dragged into dorm rooms to appreciate all the cinema I've missed out. One of such event that stuck with me was the viewing of Wizard of Oz. As the movie started and Dorothy ran down the black and white screen with her dog, I heard my host, MWS, say behind me, "Run bitch run."

We had to pause the movie. It was a sacrilegious and utterly wonderful moment. Not too long after, MWS became my roommate for three years.

During that time, I did some major cram work on movie watching, and I think I spoke through most of them. I remember trying to guess who and in what order will the characters die in Alien and Seven Samurai. Discussing with my sister detailed historical accuracy in (several) Elizabeth films, down to "no, she was under a tree reading a book when she heard that news". Being taught what would actually happen in action movies by a nursing friend.

Some of my favorite memories of MWS was when we pointed out each physically impossible moves, or the inaccuracy in how to escape immanent death while the movie was still running. I distinctly remember the triumphant feeling when I guessed the twist in Old Boy (and doubt my sanity). And then, there are times when I remember how it felt not being able to guess or criticize. The ability to suspend disbelief without a conscious effort. Back when there was no little voice saying "ah, here's the exposition, here's the twist, here's the mid-point..." Those times when while a movie played, I wasn’t able to make any judgment, because I knew without a doubt that when the lights turned off, I will be too swept off my feet to talk.