Reflections After 25 Years at the Movies

I have a colleague who describes his job as “covering the national dream beat,” because if you pay attention to the movies they will tell you what people desire and fear in their deepest secrets.

.. The real subjects of “Wayne’s World” are innocence and friendship. That’s what you get for your seven dollars.

.. The main thing wrong with a movie that is ten years old is that it isn’t 30 years old. After the hair styles and the costumes stop being dated and start being history, we can tell if the movie itself is timeless.

.. I would say that many of my favorite movies are about Good People.

.. The best movies aren’t about what happens to the characters. They’re about the example that they set.

.. When Gene Kelly splashes through “Singin’ in the Rain,” when Judy Garlandfollows the yellow brick road, when Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling, whenJohn Wayne puts the reins in his teeth and gallops across the mountain meadow, there is a purity and joy that cannot be resisted.

.. Alfred Hitchcock said that if a bunch of guys were playing cards and there was a bomb under the table and it exploded, that was terror, but he’d rather do a scene where there was a bomb under the table and we kept waiting for it to explode but it didn’t. That was suspense. It’s the kind of suspense I enjoy.

.. Love? Romance? I’m not so sure. I don’t much care for movies that get all serious about their love affairs, because I think the actors tend to take it too seriously, and end up silly. I like it better when love simply makes the characters very, very happy

.. It is easy enough to make an audience feel basic emotions (“Play them like a piano,” Hitchcock advised), but hard to make them share a state of mind. Scorsese can do it.

.. Color is too realistic. It is too distracting. It projects superfluous emotional cues. It reduces actors to inhabitants of the mere world. Black-and-white (or, more accurately, silver-and-white) creates a mysterious dream state, a simpler world of form and gesture. Most people do not agree with me. They like color and think a black-and-white film is missing something. Try this. If you have wedding photographs of your parents and grandparents, chances are your parents are in color and your grandparents are in black and white. Put the two photographs side by side and consider them honestly. Your grandparents look timeless. Your parents look goofy.

.. it sometimes seems as if the movies are more mediocre than ever, more craven and cowardly, more skillfully manufactured to pander to the lowest tastes, instead of educating them.