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Read Good Shit On Musings
So, we’ll start with the fact that all movies are make-believe. It’s a bunch of actors on a set, wearing costumes and standing with props picked out by hordes of people you’ll never see, under the guidance of a director, saying things that have been written down for them while doing their best to say these things so that it sounds like they’re just now thinking of them. We all know this—saying it feels incredibly stupid, like pointing out that water is wet—but it’s still worth noting. There is, for example, no such person as Luke Skywalker. Never has been, never will be. He was invented by a baby boomer from Modesto. He is not real.
And we know this, and that’s part of the fun. We know that Luke Skywalker isn’t real but is being portrayed by an actor (another boomer from the Bay Area, come to think of it), and that none of the things we’re seeing are real. But we give ourselves over to the collective fiction for the greater experience of becoming involved in a story.
The most famous shot in Woody Allen’s Manhattan was photographed in the early light near the Queensboro Bridge, with Allen and Diane Keaton sitting on a bench in Sutton Place Park at East 58th Street. The bench occupies the far-right corner of Gordon Willis’ widescreen, black-and-white frame, with the bridge itself, illuminated by two sets of necklace lights, stretching from end to end. Folding this romantic moment into an unabashed love letter to the city itself, the shot was such a perfect distillation of the film’s spirit that it was used for the poster.
Two years later, on the same bench with the same view of the Queensboro Bridge, Thana, the mute heroine of Abel Ferrara’s rape/revenge exploitation movie Ms. 45, pulls a gun on another in a series of lowlifes she’s murdered in the wake of two sexual assaults in a single afternoon.
It’s easy to forget now that at the beginning of 2020, before the pandemic had taken hold of our consciousness, for a brief moment, High Fidelity was back. Not only did Nick Hornby’s debut novel and Stephen Frears’ film adaptation celebrate major milestones this year — 25th and 20th anniversaries, respectively — but a TV adaptation premiered on Hulu in February. In light of all of these arbitrary signposts, multiple thinkpieces and remembrances litigated Hornby’s original text on familiar, predictable grounds. Is the novel/film’s protagonist Rob actually an asshole? (Sure.) Does Hornby uphold his character’s callous attitudes towards women? (Not really.) Hasn’t the story’s gatekeeping, anti-poptimist approach to artistic taste culturally run its course? (Probably.) Why do we need to revisit this story about this person right now? (Fair question!)