jeudi 24 juin 2010

It's a wonderful life

I do like films, but for a long time in my former existence as a general practitioner I felt that it was not a time efficient medium for upgrading the cultural programme going on in my head. I certainly didn't have time to watch bad films. For several years I delegated my choice of cinematic experience to my then partner, and a good job she did too. It is a great luxury to see a good film completely unaware of its reviews.

But I do have gaps, especially because I don't watch much telly. Now I've got more time, DVD is a seductive format for catching up, but which films to watch? is a new site with web 2.0 features that enable you to enter your favourites and then, by FOAF magic, find people with similar tastes, and therefore useful suggestions to make about the kind of thing you might like that you haven't seen yet.

Full of youthful enthusiasm I moseyed on over to this corner of the internet, and started furiously entering data in order to receive its recommendations. Unfortunately, by some quirk of the interface I was using, I thought that one had to review each film before one could receive recommendations, and naturally, after 65 entries, they were getting somewhat concise...

This irritated regular users of the site: new reviews show up on all kinds of public timelines, and one in particular, a M. Sketchbook, was somewhat scornful of my admittedly brief reviews. Inspired by him (or her), I wrote this:


I am sorry to tell you, M. Sketchbook, that each of the first 65 or so films I reviewed on the site, anxious for its automated recommendations, now has a review of similar brevity...

Horreur! Au boulot.

"You've never seen "It's a Wonderful Life"?
"I'm afraid not."
"But it's a wonderful film. It's on the telly every Christmas."
"Let's watch "It's a wonderful life" on the video."
"What, you haven't seen it?"
"No, just never have."
"Can't we watch something else? It's on every Christmas."
"Oh, OK."
"Let's watch "It's a wonderful life" on the video."
"What, you haven't seen it?"
"No, just never have."
"Oh, but you have to watch it at Christmas."
"Look, we didn't have a television, and then when we did, we certainly didn't watch it at Christmas."
"Oh. No, let's watch this one."
"Oh. OK."
"Oh great! you've got "It's a wonderful life" on DVD. Can we watch it?"
"What, you haven't seen it? But it's on every Christmas."
"So I understand. But I have somehow managed to get the age of 44 years old without ever watching it, and many people have spoken to me about it over the years, even quoted it, told me how great it was, but a viewing has always eluded me. Please can we watch it?"
"But it's April."
"I know. But, please, can we watch it?"
"Oh, alright. I don't mind watching it again I suppose. Can't you wait til Christmas?"
"Can't we just watch it now?"
"I guess so."
"Great. Would you like a cup of tea first?"
I watched "It's a wonderful life" in the sixth month of my forty-fifth year as a screen-dwelling inhabitant of the third planet out from an undistinguished star somewhere in a not much more interesting spiral galaxy.
It is undoubtedly a well-made film. I hope the male lead, James Stewart, was rightfully proud of a fine performance. I can see why people like it. Religion and suicide are meaty topics that artists must address. I am glad its simple moral falls 'gainst self-slaughter. The Everlasting would have it so.
But it is somewhat mawkish, and its politics arguably bollocks (big capitalist/little capitalist FFS), and though I watched it with interest and enjoyment to the end on this occasion, I doubt if I would do so again. So yes, a charming film for the popular canon, if somewhat over SENTIMENTAL. In my humble opinion.
Keep goading me M. Sketchbook. You inspire me. I will tighten my belt and give you my words for free, for as long as people are willing to read them. But like George Bailey, I too have a family, and a living to make in the capitalist system [spits], and life is short even if you don't kill yourself, and maybe there are other things to do, apart from gawp at the telly, and then writing about it after on the intertube. Bisous.