It’s the things you can’t count that count.
Reported on 9th of August, 2014

I realize that the problem that I have finishing these damn things is that I usually write four or five openings and then try to keep them all in.  



Leonard was wrong about leaving about the boring parts, because you also have to leave out the parts that don’t fit.  Which in this case, I’m not going to do.  It doesn’t help that they’re also boring.

Opening 1: After sitting in my outbox for many, many months (see below), I finally was pushed to write this article by the screening of Blue Ruin.

Blue Ruin

8 May 2014 @ The Dukes @ Komedia

$5.00 or, if one must be quotidian, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


Note, I didn’t say Blue Ruin itself, which was pretty good.  I was bored a lot of the time, and not bored a lot of the time, but it wins as an ex-post facto film.  It stuck in my cognitive craw, and that takes some doing.  It’s not Dead Man or Under the Skin or Stalker, but remains its own film, and you should probably see it and have an opinion or something.

Blue Ruin

Yeah no notes, but Richard nailed that it has a kind of novelistic quality, that whoever was writing it thought about what happened before, and then wrote from there.
Three pretty decent bits that I gave away to ruin it for you @ $3.00.
Total Profits


Not a film that knew how to end
The experience of seeing it. Thanks, Duke of Yorks!
Total Losses


But I did say screening, and I meant it.  We have two problems with Blue Ruin that in no way relate to the film itself, but destroy the experience of watching it.  The first are the comparisons with Blood Simple, which is nothing in any way like itIt’s like the way the trailer for Exoticamade it look like Cinemax softcore, or how seeing Life of Brian all those years ago mistakenly told me films could be good, or how people telling you that life isn’t fair just makes you want it to be.  Expectations matter, which is why the headphones whenever possible.  I find the act of knowing nothing is working increasingly well as I get older.

And fine, I was expecting one thing thanks to the marketing idiots, and got another.  But then something horrible happened.  Well, first something horrible happened and then I was forced to watch it projected.  See, the staff at the Duke of Yorks, which is our local arthouse, decided, in the spirit of Andy Hardy, and with the same entertainment value, to get together and make a show.  So, by putting Colin in a fake beards (it’s Colin!  With a fake beard!  Hilarious!), they took to their iPhones and shot a parody of a trailer of Blue Ruin.  Which, when reading that sentence again, may not even be possible.

Its existence in question, I was, nevertheless forced to watch this psychic hammer blow.  Richard gets points here in that he said that it would seem that people who work at a cinema seem to think that they work in it.  I would say, less cleverly, that this stretched-out-to-sixty-seconds-and-that’s-hard-to-do has the singular quality of Lumière brothers film, in that they seem exceptionally proud of having captured an image.  The Lumière brothers, having invented cinema, deserve that pride.  The staff of the Duke of York’s, having got their iPhone for free with a 24-month contract without realizing that the company amortizes the cost unto the contract and so this free phone costs them more than buying one, may not deserve the same amount of praise.

I’m not trying to stop them from making films; no doubt they saw Prometheus and thought, fairly rationally, that really anyone can do that.  What I am going to do is stop them from adding yet another minute to the thirty in front of all films in the UK, and furthermore, a short film that then gives away plot points of the film I am about to see.  I am not not your film class.  I am…probably…not your parent.  I am a paying customer.  And this is what I mean by Contempt, or would have meant, if we didn’t have to now go to:

Opening 2: In England (I don’t know about Wales, or Scotland or Northern Ireland, for you UK/England sticklers, and for those that don’t know about the sticklers, they exist, and now live in my head making me say ‘trousers’ instead of ‘pants’ which actually does sound weird to me now) the windows on the train don’t open.  It is warm here about three months a year, but during those three months it is somewhat annoying.  Not to say that the trains don’t have windows, they have working windows that have been sealed shut.  This was due to some idiot who stuck his arm out the window, trying to discover whether or not a train would take it off.

It did.

Has it occurred to you that the reason you're cutting trailers for people who only see movies once a year is because you make the experience so unpleasant that it takes a year to forget it?

Now this was fine, even for Armless Guy.  He did after all prove his well-constructed theorem: will a high speed train take my arm off?  He did not win a deserved Nobel Prize, but did win another one: that society didn’t blame him and went to the trouble of screwing up everyone else’s lives.  And so with speed bumps, lines at the automated barriers in the subway, and the end of the Routemaster bus, we live in a society that punishes the people who follow the rules, or just the people who follow the plain old not being an idiot, and showering those who act like assholes with attention.

Which I shall do now.

Like all of society’s ills, punishing the just would be fine with me if it didn’t encroach on the film world.   See, you don’t live in Britain (got it right that time, though I do live in England, so either would have worked), and so you haven’t seen this:

[youtube id=”7xuKlIFofJ8″ width=”520″ height=”302″]

Funny, looking at this, and adding another view to it, I realized the number of people who have seen on YouTube – 8,000 – is not far off from the number of times I have personally seen it.  You see, it is on before every film shown here.

Let me be clear.

It is on.  Before every film.  Shown here.

No exceptions.  (Editor’s note: this is no longer true, which merely tells you how long it takes me to prove Elmore Leonard right.  That being said, it was shown for five years).  Now we can almost forgive the naive idiocy of the Just Say No quality it has, that, the the anti-smoking ads of the eighties always created a smoke-’em if you got ’em game (Okay, I have to do this aside.  Remember when Mr. Willis lights his terrible French cigarettes in Die Hard?  I went out my way to see it, two years after its release, at the Capitola Twin.  Why?  Because it’s great.  Also, why?  You could smoke there.  So, when Bruce lights up, I do.  Now that’s a smoking game. It would be idiotic, if being idiotic wasn’t also so great).

The point being that whenever I see this thing, I want to steal films.  I don’t, by the way, for the NSA/MPAA drones out there webcrawling around (if I’m not going to be read, at least let me be archived for future prosecution), but not out of any morality, which I don’t apparently have anyway, but because I’ve already seen every film that I want to in the theater, and if I want to watch it again, which is very rare, I’ll buy it.

What I also don’t do is steal the films by taping them in the theatre.  This is because no one does this.  Everything’s on DLP and there are screeners everywhere.  That’s what all the pirated stuff is, being that it’s not 2004.  And yes, there are still screen grabs, so to speak, but there aren’t any here.  Why?  Because we get films months after they come out everywhere else in the world, and you can just rip the actual DVD, and not go to the theatre that tells you what a terrible person you are.

It’s enough that we pay money to see 30 minutes of ads and trailers in the cinema, but the addition of ruining the experience we paid for with plot points for films we are about to see, and then being accused of thievery, knowing that you are the one group, the one group, that has, to an unassailable certainty, has actually paid to see a film.  Has it occurred to you that the reason you’re cutting trailers for people who only see movies once a year is because you make the experience so unpleasant that it takes a year to forget it?

Opening 3: When I first moved to England, I was out in the country, and I felt like I needed to buy a car.  Looked at a Volvo wagon, which, and this is not a joke, caught on fire on the test drive.  This would have been a pretty good story, but upon returning in the tow truck back to the dealership, the salesman did not hesitate to tell me they would ‘patch that right up for me’ and I’d be on my way.  I almost wanted to reward him for the absolute belief in his lie, but isn’t that what I’ve been complaining about?  When it happens in real life it’s funny.  In movies…

So I wound up with a Prius, because I hate the environment (batteries are extremely toxic, and ultimately can’t be recycled.  I mean, it’s green!  In that the inevitable death of the human race will actually turn the Earth green again.  Which I do support), but also because it had a back-up camera.  I had been here all of two weeks, and I realized the parking spaces were tiny, and there just was no other way.

Before I discovered Marks and Spencer had a supermarket, I did what every other ex-Liberal does, and shop at Waitrose.  The parking at the one in Lewes is brutal, with spaces that can only be negotiated with a PriusCam.  But as I waited in line just to get into the parking lot, two things occurred to me.  The first is that by stretching out and trying to get every tiny square inch from each parking space, it takes a lot longer to get in and out, which means that it’s possible, nay likely, that a parking lot with bigger but fewer spaces might actually have the time equivalent of more spaces.  Not that anyone would want to check on this.  But even if not the case, and let’s face it, it probably isn’t, there is the second problem: it’s annoying.

Many things are, but this is more important than one might realize.  Because what assholes do isn’t visible or measurable.  What they do, in their idiotic drive for market efficiency is, bit by bit, make the world a slightly shittier place.  It’s the things you can’t count that count.  And as the cinemas cut back on staff (saving them .3% a year.  They know that because of the people they hire to tell them.  At .4% a year.  It only cost them .1% to find that out) and show commercials, and tell us that were criminals and weld the windows shut, they will reach their targets of an increase in profits of 2%.  If the actual market shrinks by 10% because no one likes being told they’re scum, well that just means we need to be more efficient.

I was going to do a cartoon of a lemonade stand that charges you to work for it, or a theater with its seats facing the wrong way, or any number of bits that are soon to be reality, just as any of things we take for granted now would have been the New Yorker cartoons of the past.  But then I discovered this link, which works on a variety of levels.  It's not real.  It can't be:

I was going to do a cartoon of a lemonade stand that charges you to work for it, or a theater with its seats facing the wrong way, or any number of bits that are soon to be reality, just as any of things we take for granted now would have been the New Yorker cartoons of the past. But then I discovered this link, which works on a variety of levels. It’s not real. It can’t be:

And this is the funny thing about capitalism, especially in regards to the movie business.  It thinks it’s about numbers, but it’s really about feelings.  No one (except me, obviously) understands how films work or don’t, why they hit or don’t.  This is because they are the intangible experience.  You’re not paying someone two hour seat rent, but to sit and feel something.  If you don’t make the audience feel good, or good in feeling bad, you have failed.  The intangibles are the only thing that matter.  Sure, I guess the tangibles count a bit, but only because they’re are made up by a number of intangibles.  A tangible amount, but still.

You could argue that things like landlords and Waitrose are in the business of keeping people alive in some kind of practical way, but what’s the point of living if all you get is a tiny parking space and lots of bland food for a temporary sense of fullness followed by profound shame.  One could argue that there a breaking point, which won’t be about money or which school you got into or even how famous you want to be and can’t.  It will be about the increasing shitty feeling, the one that no one seems to be able to quantify because it’s caused by all the quantification you’ve done.  My fantasy is that at least cinematically, we return to some seventies style craziness (and there’s some hint of that), there’s also the kind of French/Maoist/Stalinist Revolution option, which, for all its human suffering, would make movies even worse.  Of course, the apocalyptic option has an even scarier, and more likely, alternative.

That we just get used to it.

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