B! and I met in 2003, when I signed up to be a PA for his self-produced indie feature. I seemed like I had cred, since I was working for a real live production company, and we treated each other with the respect of fellow cinephiles. His encyclopedic knowledge of film history made him disposed to reference the Great Directors as part of everyday vernacular – every conversation led to Scorsese – and I would smile, nod, and politely change the subject.
I couldn’t let on, you see, that I have no interest in movies.
I mean, I WATCH movies. I ENJOY movies. I’m just not INTERESTED in movies. Like, I have no HEAD for them. I could sooner tell you the first ten digits of Pi than tell you who directed the last film I watched, and I’m horrible about remembering plots. I once sat through an entire hour and a half of “Audition” before realizing it wasn’t the movie I thought it was. (An aside: does anyone know of *another* Asian gore flick that involves pretty girls and piano wire?) But I couldn’t let B! know this. Especially while we worked on the next four films together.
I’m telling you, this went on for years.
So OK, it’s last night, 2011. We’re flipping through the Netflix queue the other night, and he’s like, “Let’s watch ‘The 400 Blows‘”, and I’m like “God, is it one of those movies that has no PLOT?”
He looked at me, quizzically, thinking I was making a (somewhat incorrect) generalization about French New Wave. His mind tried to wrap itself around who I could be talking about, and, after a brief cataloguing of the collected works of Francois Truffaut, settled on Godard as a resting place. “I mean, ‘Breathless‘ was kind of weird”, he thought. “Sort of.”
I took a sip of wine, musing. Those black and white movies with no plot. I got into those for awhile, so I’d be able to talk about things like I knew things. I suffered through so many of those damn boring films, all subtitles and jester suits… Which one was the worst one, which one did I have to turn off?
“Like ‘8 1/2‘” I blurted out.
B!’s face drained of color as I realized my mistake.
His voice was a whisper, not a shriek.
I fumbled for an explanation, knowing that insulting The Great Fellini was like kicking his sister in the neck. I felt exposed (shamed!), for not only had I not LIKED 8 1/2, I hadn’t even REMEMBERED who directed it. I’d completely shown my hand, totally blown it, effectively ended nearly ten years of a well-played charade.
“I mean, that’s not even FRENCH NEW WAVE!!” His eyes were like saucers, they poured me a whole new shade of cream. “That’s ITALIAN!”
Completely trapped, I dissolved into hysterical laughter. I couldn’t bear to tell him that Fellini and Truffaut always seemed like kind of the same thing to me.