I'll come up with something in a minute.

I Think I Remember Differently

I was complaining about something in The Avengers the day we saw it, and I made some kind of comment that I don’t really remember at the moment. That’s sort of interesting, that I don’t remember the comment, considering the rest of this story. It was a detail about the Capt. America movie, or the Thor movie, and Syd made a mention that she didn’t remember it. She then said something that has been on my mind ever since.

“I never remember things like that. I sort of trained myself not to remember details for that long.” The reasoning was that her trips to the library as a child were non-existent and her trips to the bookstore to get new books were few and far between. As a result, she would have to read the same books over and over again, spacing them out just long enough for the details to have faded from her memory.

That started a long line of things, that all started to click into place for me. Syd’s seen a lot of movies with me and she’s read a lot of books. She’s supposed to know as much about the music of storytelling as I do myself. And yet, she’s so very rarely annoyed by the clichéd, the obvious, and the things that have been done dozens of times and can only seem clever if you’re completely new to movies or books. Now, partly, I’d always put it down to a tolerance for bullshit that I do not posses.

I do not laugh at the joke that I can see coming from miles away. The “He’s adopted” joke just made me curl my lip in disgust. Not only because it shits on adopted kids, but because I could see that joke coming from several miles off. I never laugh at a joke I saw coming from a long way off. Syd claims that there is some enjoyment for some people to get to the punchline before the delivery, like they solved the mystery before anyone else, but I can’t do that and enjoy it.

The same with the “Why should we listen to you?” bit with Capt. America. I knew what the punchline to that sequence was going to be three words into him issuing orders to the cops. I then had to endure 45 years of waiting for the damn line to be delivered so that we could get on with the rest of the movie. I just assume that all the people who laughed at that scene were ignorant of the fact that they’d just seen one of the oldest clichés in the action movie book, and that it wasn’t even done very well. They’ve probably never watched many of the action movies I’ve watched, they just don’t know any better. The fact that they might not have remembered that scene from 3 dozen films and a million billion episodes of tough guy TV shows never actually occurred to me.

Ignorance was an easier answer to be honest. And it’s easy to see, on the surface, how ignorance is the easy answer. Geeks particularly are not well versed outside their comfort zones. Sci-Fi geeks tend to stick to their sci-fi ghettos, only occasionally working their way out to the fantasy realms for supplies and girls in chain mail bikinis. As a result, many geeks will say that The Caves of Steel is their favorite Mystery novel that they’ve ever read. Normally they will neglect to mention, until you persuade them with a car battery and some wet sponges that it is also they only mystery novel they’ve ever read. I know enough people like this, who almost never stray from their chosen section of the book store, to use this as a working hypothesis. It explains why people think a single red herring is an amazing literary device, or that having a detective that listens to opera is innovative, or having the whole fantasy realm actually take place in a future realm that has reverted is new and exciting. If you don’t know… you don’t know. That people might have read or watched, and then forgotten, strangely never occurred to me.

Possibly, it’s because I remember everything. I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday. Now I know what you’re going to say, “That’s no way to treat and expensive musical instrument.” and, you know I love you, but you’ve got a hell of a lot to learn about rock n roll. Now, where was I?

I can remember fine details from a book I read when I was about 6. For example, I can easily remember who the monster at the end of the book was. No spoilers from me, I’m not that kind of guy. I can remember large swaths of history from one viewing of a documentary 15 years ago. I once recognized a movie from a thirty second scene nearly 20 years later. It wasn’t a particularly good movie, but I clearly remembered the scene, the day I watched the part of it I recognized, what I was wearing, what the situation was… I’ve got a lot of details stored up. I can remember the more or less, the plots of almost every book I’ve ever read. I might get a few Robert B. Parker books muddled here and there, but I can give you a beat by beat of a lot things I’ve read. In some cases can recite scenes, and I’ve annoyed people with my ability to rattle off a gestalt version of The Christmas Carol with a running commentary as to how different stage, film and audio versions have changed details. It’s only recently that anyone has ever mentioned that not everyone does some small version of this.

Not only that, but there is a constant comparison being run in my head. How did this movie do this kind of scene, how does it compare to what John Woo or Sam Peckinpah shot. What about Akira Kurosawa, or Sergio Leone. I can recognize visual references about as fast as I recognize audio references, which is more or less instantly. As I say though, it seems most people don’t do this, they just watch the movie. Sometimes, if something really sticks out, they may go “Hey wait a second” but usually it all sort of washes past them and it’s up to me to point out that it doesn’t work for a host of reasons I hand them as we leave the theater. Seriously, it took me less than five minutes to point out all the problems technical I had with Batman Begins. Does no one make pasta in Gotham? Or make tea, or take a bath? And how does an instant evaporation weapon go through metal pipes but not skin? I mean really!

Not only that, but I tend to ask a lot of questions while the film runs. I think about how this character is handling things and how another character might handle them and if the portrayal is being handled realistically. Hence my statement “You’re in Germany genius, maybe you want to tell them to kneel in German, which is what they speak in Germany.” during that scene. Also, my complaint about people with military training using pistols when there were perfectly good rifles sitting around. I have been reliably informed that other people don’t do this.

Going back to the bit with Capt. America telling people to go and what to do, when he got jumped by the expected baddies, I was less taken with his awesome actionness and more asking “Why did they get that close? Shouldn’t you have shaken them before putting the cops at risk? Where is their back up?” and so on. Granted, I was kind of bored during the 9 hours of CGI pixels banging into each other while some green screened actors pretended like they knew what was attacking them.

I’ve only had it brought home to me that even Syd and my father do something I cannot do. I hesitate to use the phrase “Turn off their brains” because neither of them actually disengages their thinking bits. However, I have pointed things out about movies I didn’t like and had my father come back later and explain that now he has trouble watching that movie. However, they are able to get lost into the movie in a way I just don’t find possible. I am always analyzing the book, movie, play, song, particularly when I’m sitting in a dark room doing nothing but watching (Or listening/reading/whatevering) and not being distracted in the slightest. Under that level of scrutiny, the failures magnify and get under my skin, particularly if I’m not enjoying the movie very much. Of course, when I’m enjoying the movie I tend to be able to calculate how much I enjoy the movie.

Part of my problem is that I’ve seen it all and as a result I can see it coming. Now! Genre movies that stick to genre rules, they never bother me like this. So long as their fun, and they follow the rules, I can enjoy them. It’s sort of like music, you know the basic set up of a song when you by an album from a certain band or section of the record store* and you expect to get certain things. You can take changes in the music, even drastic changes, if the song flows. It’s when some pretentious wiener decides he’s going to mess with the formula, but can’t commit that I get annoyed. Brick messed with the formula of a Film Noir, and they stuck to their conceit of having the whole story told with teenagers. As a result, I loved it. It was crispy in just the right way. It’s when someone can’t commit, tries to have it both ways. That gets me annoyed most the time.

Also, I just get annoyed seeing the same thing play out over and over. When a big movie is predictable, that makes me sad. That is possibly why I do actually like movies like Graffiti Bridge. You can’t say that you know where that movie is going when you watch it for the first time. Mostly, because it’s kind of incoherent, but it will surprise you at least once. Or flabbergast, I’ll take flabbergast in a pinch. If you’ve got all the money though, I would like to see something new once in a while, particularly if you’re doing superheroes. Don’t give me the superhero equivalent of Titanic or Avatar. Give me the superhero equivalent of Dr. Strangelove, or the The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (a highly underrated movie) which never bored me and gave me lots of things to see, and think about.

So yeah, my brain works differently, and I don’t stop considering every scene and the implications of it. This is also possibly why I have a problem with stupid characters, I can see their downfall coming two or three seasons away on some TV shows. I don’t feel clever, or superior when the downfall comes, just bored that I wasted so much time when I knew exactly what was going to happen.

*For those of you who are only zygotes. There used to be these places called record stores, where you would buy music on a sort of black disc. Remember mp3s? You know how sometimes you’d get them off a cd? Well a record is like a CD only there were grooves that you needed to decode the music. And you’d buy one or two records at a time at a store that was JUST for records. Sometimes there were tapes (but we won’t get started on tapes) and eventually CDs, but then the internet came and swept them all away. And good riddance too, the people who worked there were usually assholes who hated whatever it was you bought and wanted you to listen to The Doors.

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May 24, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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