It’s rare that I see a film that doesn’t bring me pleasure,
and that’s not because I’m a sucker for the movies—I’m careful.
I assiduously read reviews in The New Yorker,
and to a lesser extent The New York Times and my
local, The Eugene Weekly. But last week I chose to
go see I’m Still Here the latest Joaquin Phoenix “un-vehicle”
on a date. If one allows the attractions of the opposite sex
to take precedence over the exigencies of movie selection,I cannot complain. The last time I fell into this variety of “honey trap” (John LeCarre uses this term to describe when the enemy surreptitiously uses a sexually attractive agent to lure an opposing agent into a situation in which he compromises the integrity of his spycraft) was the spring of 1994, the film: Schindlers’ List. The budding relationship did not survive the post film cafe discussion, as I could feel in my bones back on the ticket line it would not.
I can’t blame my libido entirely for the decision to see
the latest mockumentary. I was attracted, more than I was willing
to admit, to seeing a successful Hollywood “star,” whom
I’d never even seen in a movie before, self-consciously
roll around in the luxuries of “tinsel town,” while archly
ripping it a new asshole. The movie was pure torture to watch. And the asshole being ripped
is anything but new: Excessive privilege combined with an exaggerated
sense of entitlement leads inexorably to poor, inauthentic interactions
with the other human beings in our life, without which we cannot
hope to wring even a few drops of satisfaction from our lives. But I know that already. How I wish he,
the mock-u-mythical Joaquin, and I could simply enjoy the celluloid
success of Jack Nicholson and still make our hip jokes about it, while enjoying our post-film
cup of coffee. Alas, my date and I were not so lucky.
But, we’re old friends, rather than the online pick-up of the
moment, so no real harm was done to my social life. Or my soul.
On the contrary, as Greg Gerke, recently remarked to me,
‘You’re still angry about it, so there must be some value to the “work.”’
I agree, but I don’t think he’s hopping on the F train heading
to Houston Street anytime soon to confirm this. And I don’t
suggest that you do either.