Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Father of My Best Friend's Wedding Planner

I have a friend up in Seattle who makes video games. Let's call him G. He and I spent too much time awasted watching movies. We watched them over and over again, but we spent times away from the TV screen too.

In some ways I think my friend G is a genius. I remember driving in his car through Big Sur and the landscape brought ideas into his head. He saw the mountains which are just short of rolling hills. He saw the cluster of trees gathered here and there. It made a beautiful contrast between a yellowish brown and a deep evergreen. We wound our way through this scenery looking for Pacific Highway 1--we found it eventually. But the way there was interesting as usual--as between me and G there is always conversation of interest. We began to discuss landscape in general, and I noted its effect on us in terms both beautiful and sublime. I surely brought up something from Burke or Kant at the time, but G saw something different. The way the late afternoon sun shone on the grass and green gave him an insight into a better way to program video games. Landscape is a major issue in making video games, and an overly fake version of it can make or break the game. Verisimilitude in the name of the game, and the Big Sur provided a type of landscape that was realistically possible in computer code. As I sat there I was amazed in my subjective aestheticism. G saw this too, but was ahead of me. He saw its application to the purpose of a good video game.

G wasn't always ahead of me. We became friends through the medium of videos--VHS at the time. As I said, we watched video after video, and wasted much time doing so. I remember these times as well spent. I got to indulge my pleasure in certain movies, and I got to enjoy it with another. I knew my friend G looked at things differently than me (at the time little did I know of his true acumen at digitally making what is a simulacrum of what is). Still we had a good time.

None of what G and I said or did in this time was worthy of greatness, but in terms of personal memory it was important for me. One can only hope that from the beginning of personal memory one may be able to point to that which is larger than oneself. One can only hope that one's own life is not so idiosyncratic that it cannot escape from its own solipsism. I look at the times G and I watched movies as one of those times spent doing nothing that may have been more than what it appeared to be, viz. two dudes sitting watching movies. I surely didn't know that this would lead to a road trip where we would be winding and wending our way through the Big Sur landscape.

The problem of modern thinkers whether rationalists like Descartes or empiricists like Hobbes is how do I get out of my own head. Can I escape this modern conundrum through the telling of a tale as asinine as my friend and me watching movies? Lets hope so. I think the idiosyncratic pleasures of me and G were more than some self-sufficient pleasure that can only be remembered in reverie. G and I may not be the best of friends, but he makes video games and I still think of this moment. You buy video games, and you may on occasion think about your past experiences. It surely is not all in my head. You probably saw many of the movies we saw together.

So we watched movies--as many as we could get our hands on. We would go to the local Blockbuster or Hastings (this was in Texas after all) and rent a movie or two. We watched many things, and over time I convinced G to go with my tastes--i.e., films by directors like Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, Jean Pierre Melville, Francois Truffaut, Krystof Kieslowski, Bob Rafelson. We also watched Akira Kurosawa. We watched Charlton Heston in Omega Man and Soylent Green. We watched all five Planet of the Apes films. We watched Quentin Tarantino and Whit Stillman too. We watched Ghost in the Shell. We watched Citizen Kane. We watched old westerns by John Ford and Howard Hawkes. We watched Rebel Without a Cause. Perhaps the favorite was Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. We watched whatever was the new release--like movies starring Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise and Nicholas Cage and Nicole Kidman and Bruce Willis and Michele Pfeifer. We watched the comic book movies--Batman, Spiderman, Superman, X-Men and Hulk. Anything with Jennifer Connelly was good enough to watch. Humphrey Bogart was a favorite, but we also watched quirky low budget flicks like Where's Marlowe?--blockbusters like Star Wars (for the umpteenth time)--and hipster movies by Danny Boyle. We watched cheap giallos by Dario Argento. It was a lazy film buff's education. No direction, rhyme, or reason. Whatever we had heard was good we watched. Whatever we heard you ought to watch or whatever was supposed to be a classic or whatever looking interesting or whatever was popular or whatever had a good movie poster--it was all worth watching most of the time (or should I say it was something to do).

Remember, this was before Netflix. And this leads me to the time I brought up the idea of a movie spoof--a parody of movie marriages called The Father of My Best Friend's Wedding Planner. Now it should be noted that G and I kept a notebook of all the nutty ideas we came up with. It was known as the Dope Notebook--not necessarily because we were smoking dope, but because we knew we were a couple of dopes saying stupid shit. Stupid or otherwise, it was hilarious. My movie idea stuck with me, and like one of the erstwhile Wayans brothers, I was ready to make my movie. It would take the piss out of every marriage movie, but in a way--which all good parody does--respects the conventions because in general it agrees with the conventions. The Father of My Best Friend's Wedding Planner was to be a real laugh riot that confirmed the truths embedded in every marriage movie.

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