suspending disbelief

Every now and then, I request movies from the public library (what with video rental stores dropping like flies and not being a Netflix subscriber).

Some movies we see in the theatre, right when they come out – either because we are impatient and eager, or because they are movies that demand a certain cinematic experience: size of screen or surround sound to showcase dramatic locations/scores or epic battles/action sequences.

Others, we know we want to see, but are unwilling to pay theatre prices for, and we wait for video.  And others still, only one of us wants to see, so we tend to wait for video for those also.

So, after requesting a number of movies, nearly a dozen came in at once, including Babel, Libertine, Closer, Mrs. Henderson Presents.  Ed sorted through the pile, wondering if there was anything there he’d be interested in.

He held up one box.  “We’ve already seen Babel.”
“Um, no.  Or at least, I haven’t.”

Which started a back-and-forth for several minutes where he tried to convince me we had watched it, and I was equally certain I’d never laid eyes on it.  We didn’t watch it that night.  (Well, because we’d already seen it, right?)

At this point, I have no idea.

I’m just not very good at watching movies.

I am completely willing to suspend disbelief. I want well-delivered dialogue, a steady plot, decent production value that will transport me into the scene. If there are going to be special effects, I’d prefer not to see the “how” of making the scene, until after the movie. Other than that, I am willing to immerse myself in the story.

I can watch a movie and then two years later insist I’ve never seen it.  (See above.  Ed was completely justified in suggesting that I might not remember the movie.  But this time, I’m sure.  Pretty sure.)

I can watch a movie nearly fresh again.  I say “nearly” because I will recognize bits and pieces, but I will not remember the flow of events; and even if I remember the surprise ending, I will still enjoy the journey there as I won’t have remembered the details.

I wonder why this is.

Something to do with the nature of the movie-going experience perhaps: dark room, silence all around from those in rapt attention,* uninterrupted storytelling time, intense sensory input.
*depending on the time of day/crowd at the cinema, and we choose carefully

It’s not like a book you can put down and ponder, and go away and come back to, and savour and plan when you will finish – if indeed you must.

I can remember a book years later just from looking at the cover.  I don’t have a photographic memory, but books – in general – make much more of an impression on me.

Imagine my joy when I learned that my husband believes – as I do – that a perfect holiday includes some time spent reading books.  On our first trip together, we sat side-by-side in comfortable chairs, cooled by a soft Kauai-breeze, turning the pages.  I read The Secret Life of Bees, and thought about the women in my life.  To me, that book smells more like plumeria than honey.

I think I am more invested in the books I read:  I am a more critical book-reader than I am a movie-watcher.  Maybe this has to do with the number of creative talents involved in making a movie: if it’s a dud, it’s hard to know who to blame, as it were.  If it’s a tour-de-force, the accolades must be shared.

With a book, you’re pretty much just dealing with the author and her vision.  This is not to disrespect in any way the roles of agent and editor, or all those folks in the acknowledgements.  It is to recognize that when it comes down to it, the author’s name is on the cover, and the work is hers, and she must own it.  OWN IT.

These days, my work is to keep butt in chair (thank you, Holly) and own my deadline:  first draft of the novel done by June 25.  There I said it out loud.

Please suspend disbelief.


listening to: Madeleine Peyroux, Damn the Circumstances

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