Monday, January 10, 2011

Why I love old movies

The sound of the film running, even during quiet moments, you can hear it running, the projector humming, sometimes the flapping of the the end of it as reels change.

Because actors then found a glorious equilibrium between the mad flailing of the silent era and the quiet brooding of today.

I love the spots and scratches that no amount of restoration can remedy, a badge of honor, that this film has managed years and years before being rediscovered by video or Criterion.

Scores were epic and rarely reflected what was actually going on onscreen, studios ruled in America and arthouse ruled in Europe, German Renaissance and French New Wave and American Studio fodder duked it out in theatres, celebrities crept away to Swedish clinics for addiction, where it was rough and brutal and unforgiving, and one wasn't celebrated for such things. Where celebrity couples were the Bogies and Bacalls, the Hepburns and Tracys, even the Godards and Karinas, where the worst they could throw at an actress who was perceived to have answered a dual casting call/personal ad was 'his little soulmate', because even the press, in their way, were classy, if not by choice, then by censorship, which is never good, but that's besides the point.

Every bit of violence, of sex, or language, feels all the more tantalizing because you know it pissed somebody off.

Faces glowed in heavenly light, tears made the face unashamedly wet, guys like Fassbinder were a novelty more than a norm (although I suspect he'd be a rebel even today, because he was a tough guy, but a tough guy of, in loosest terms, flexible sexuality), Klaus Kinski provided the fodder...

But the American films were so pleasant. No pretense of relatability, no force-fed lies about job description versus income, plainess meant to equal glasses. No, no, they knew they were hot, and rich, and made sure we did too, without patronising us with lamentations of relationships and weight. Escapism as it was meant to be.

Melodrama was La Corbeau , salty mysteries and noir. Comedy was anything you found funny. PC was a myth. Sensitivity was a myth. WHat you saw was what you got, unless you wanted to see more.

I ramble. Of course I do. I love the sound of the projector, don't you?