Just wrapped the first of my two public appearances at EbertFest. This was a ten-person panel entitled “Movies and Everyday Life.” I listened quite carefully to the moderator’s introduction which was a good idea because it turned out to be about something completely different than what I had assumed.
(Oh, well. And I’d gone to the trouble of hunting down a can of Sterno at 1 AM for my big fire-juggling bit, too. Adapt, react, and improve, kids.)
It turned out to be about reality in movies; about the need to use movies for real, human stories instead of just spectacle, spectacle, spectacle.
The panel seemed to consist of nine exciting filmmakers plus a technology columnist so my theme for those 75 minutes was “Speak when spoken to.” I can be a very shrewd man when I’ve had my morning Coke.
I really wanted to jump in on a number of points. “People have to be taught to watch movies,” someone said. Well, no, they don’t. People teach themselves. Their curriculum is self-imposed. You don’t need to see an Ozu film. If you see enough great movies, you’ll be seeking out other great movies and your path will intersect with “Floating Weeds” in due time.
There. I said it and I feel better now.
If I had one point to make (besides praising “Jackass”) it was that folks see the movies that they want to see. It’s as simple as that. If you’re troubled that they tend to see many of the same kinds of movies over and over again, well, look in your kitchen cupboard. Well, I’ll be…you bought the Progresso Minestrone! Again! Not even a different brand, either!
You bought it because you liked it the last time. People see this year’s romantic comedy because they liked last year’s big romantic comedy.
The other way folks see movies is when they’re recommended by people whom they trust. And here we have the seeds of a new golden age of film-watching. Never had I had more opportunities to nestle in with a group of smart people who introduce me to new flicks.
And never before have I had so many opportunities to influence other film fans. I saw “My Winnipeg” yesterday. While the end credits rolled, I was Tweeting my enthusiasm…and the Tweet contained a link to where the movie can be immediately watched via Amazon Streaming!
Isn’t that remarkable?
You weren’t there at the panel so you’re just going to have to trust me that it was totally relevant to the topic at hand and that had I said it, I would have been carried out of that room not on a rail, but triumphantly on the shoulders of a weary proletariat desperate for Truth and Hope.
(Swear to God. Who are you going to believe? Me? Or anybody else on the panel or in the audience?)