why do i watch movies?

i should say for the story. but i guess the truth is, i want to be transported.

as a kid, i grew up on movies. my cousins and i would watch everything the family video rental would lend out. the rental wasn’t strictly kosher, but we didn’t know that. all we knew was that we had a supply of movies.

there was also the cinema. my aunt would round up all of us and bring us to the cinema. and we’d have a blast, watching chuck norris or jackie chan or jet li or cynthia rothrock or michael dudikoff or whomever. and those were just the action flicks.

then we’d eat pansit and hotdogs at dundee. (i don’t remember why the snack bar was called dundee but i’d like to think it had something to do with crocodile dundee.) good times.

movies were something else outside of books for me to obsess over. i loved books. but movies came a close second. and my dad, ever the tsk-er, would tell me i’m forever being escapist.

true. but why not?

at the time, it was the way i soaked up the world. i lived in a small town, and this was probably my way of seeing something outside it. learning something, discovering something, vicariously living something. it was less about analysis and more about experience. something new. something wild. something out of this world. another language, another place, another time, another space, another life. just a view of someone else’s version of life. getting into character’s heads. guessing what they’ll do, where they’ll go, if they’ll end up alright.

these days, it’s less about the experience and more about the analysis. i still have fun. and i still get mad when something–such as a ringing cellphone (worse if it’s mine, that adds shame and paranoia into the mix)–takes me out of the experience. or if something onscreen jars me out of the experience: when i start thinking that the light is weird or the makeup is obvious or the sound is too loud or the actor just did what he did in that previous movie of his, it’s jarring. even if i’m still interested in human nature as it plays out onscreen.

but for the most part, i keep asking myself, after  i watch the movie: what did those two hours mean? is this telling me something that feels true? is it teaching me something new? is it giving me something that coincides with my world view, and if not, should i reconsider, reshape, rethink? what were the intentions of the film and was it successful in those intentions? from what i saw of the trailer, did the actual film meet expectations? was that twist really necessary or just the director wanking himself? was my fun a lighthearted romp, or was my fun an uncomfortable, i-should-be-mortified-but-i’m-not kind of fun?  was it a waste of valuable time?

i guess it’s a natural consequence, a natural evolution, in the cinema-goer. add the fact that i’m sometimes paid to write about movies, and it’s practically a job hazard.

i’ve been questioning and second-guessing myself a lot these days.

sometimes i wish i could return to that wide-eyed kid who couldn’t wait to come of age so she could watch this really good movie that, unfortunately, she was much too young to get into. and just enjoy the hell out of it. who’d say a solid, “i loved it” about something she just watched, and mean it–end of discussion. no ifs, buts, or why nots.

but i can’t. and really, if you think about it, as long as i’m honest with what i feel and think–and i am–then i really don’t have to.

and because i am what i am, what i feel, and think, and eventually write, will not always coincide with how you feel, or think, or eventually believe. that’s just how it is.

and that’s okay.

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