Monday, November 20, 2006

The hack

I seem to have suddenly acquired the lungs of a seventy-year-old lifelong chain smoker who's only recently quit work at the mines. Plus my three-year-old is currently suffering from a double ear infection – because getting infected in just the one ear is for pussies, apparently.

On the plus side, the video store next to the walk-in clinic was selling a $5 copy of Duel. A nice old, VHS copy, too, with a yellowing mini-review from an old newspaper glued right to the case by some video clerk a few decades ago. It's not the most artfully put together film – no wait, it is artfully put together, given how quickly and how efficiently Spielberg made it, and how much of it he had storyboarded out before he started filming. It sometimes feels like an exercise. It's not a brilliant movie, but just ten minutes of it makes you realize what Spielberg had, and why his kind of filmmaking was destined to take over. To be so childishly enthused about American life, to fetishize it in his imagination to such an extent that a close-up of a truck's grille is worth any amount of brilliant acting or writing, etc. – this was the kind of thing that instantly made everything else look tepid, whether fairly or no.

Why do so many films feel so strained (in the soup sense) and impotent in comparison? Why are so few filmmakers capable of creating anything that has, as its animating idea, something as simple as "big trucks are fucking scary"?

Why can I not stop coughing?

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