Saturday, October 14, 2006

peter max meets david lynch meets mtv

jean and i had gone to see a movie. we arrived at the theatre, and found it set up for a live tv show. there were a lot of rambunctious kids and frazzled parents in the “studio audience.” we made our way down the aisle and then jean picked some seats for us. she let me have the aisle, but left an empty seat between us. right in front of me was a very tall guy, so although i was grateful to have the space around me, i couldn’t see very well. i was feeling some shame about why she had left the open seat (“she’d probably be crowded if she sat right next to me, given that i don’t exactly fit in the seat”).

the lights went down, the curtain went up, and it was in fact a movie and not a live tv show. the movie provided intense sensory stimulation with its rapid jump cuts, high volume, evocative music, combination of animation and live actors, and non-linear narrative. i was enthralled.

at some point, i became aware that we were now sitting on straight-backed chairs in a carpeted living room, watching the movie being projected onto a blank wall. i also realized that the guy who had been sitting in front of me had moved his chair to one of the side walls. jean had moved to the other wall. in fact, there was a general clearing of the center of the room; i was one of the few people still sitting in the center and intently watching the movie. others had found it too overwhelming, too loud, too weird; some were driven off, upset by the lynchian elements.

the content of the movie fascinated me, partly because some visual cliché would be unfolding, but then the movie would go in an unexpected direction. i kept expecting cruelty at the expense of fat people, and it kept not happening.

there was one sequence where trays of treats were being eaten. most people were eating one or two of the treats. one woman ate a couple of the treats, then a few more, then started to shovel armfuls of the treats into her mouth. she sort of collapsed to the floor on her back, with a superhighway of the treats still pouring themselves into her mouth. i thought, “okay, now she gets fat and explodes”, and i braced myself for the mockery of the people around her. but then, she turned into a cartoon of a naked woman with blue skin, and the words “magic mae” in an elaborate curly font appeared on her side, and she got longer and bigger, but proportionately so. then she started to waft off the ground in widening arcs, like a piece of paper caught by the wind – or, i thought, like a magic carpet. and then she rose completely off the ground and zoomed away, to wild cheering and applause from everyone else.

and then the phone rang.


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