Sometimes my favorite films are the ones where people sit there and don’t say anything
Tilda Swinton’s character in The Limits of Control has a line, “Movies are like dreams you’re never really sure you’ve had; sometimes my favorite films are the ones where people sit there and don’t say anything.”
Some movies tell stories. At one point in my life I fell in love with the idea of how movies tell stories or at least different types of stories. When I discovered European cinema and movies from Japan, they opened up whole new worlds for me. Because I loved them so, I thought it might be a way for me to express myself creatively. I discovered that I am not a good story teller. There is some disconnect between the story in my head and how the idea gets translated onto film or onto paper. I can’t tell jokes for the same reason. I see the joke in my head but the punch line either comes out of sequence or I forget it all together. It has made for awkward moments at parties, until I realized it was better for me to laugh at someone else’s joke than try to tell one. I appreciate good stories and I love movies that tell a good yarn. I also love movies that have great ideas that inform them and will overlook some narrative shortcomings because the concept behind them appeals to me.
Having said that, when I was exposed to the world of what is referred to as experimental cinema (non-narrative, underground, avant-garde are other labels) the experience of watching them was more akin to reading poetry or being in a dream. Many of them opened up an inner world, sometimes wondrous, other times frightening, using different means to also tell a story, sometimes an ‘alternate’ narrative or sometimes to tell no story at all. There is a diverse universe with many voices in the film world, narrative and non-narrative alike – as there are in all the arts. I must admit that I find myself at home with many of these non-traditional artists – Jonas Mekas with his film diaries, Stan Brakhage with his multiple experiments with form and intent, Ken Jacobs’ work to change how we experience cinema, and countless others. I enjoy the work of Jim Jarmusch and Terrence Malick as well, two American film-makers who work in the traditional narrative mode but who stretch the boundaries of what it means to be a story teller in this contemporary age. There are countless others to mention but this is not a film blog and there are plenty of writers out there who devote a lot of time and thought into the film-making world. The point of this entry is to try to explain some of my influences and inspirations, biases and inclinations – all of this really for my own benefit to try to see why I create what I do. It is the daimonic impulse I am trying to explore.