On Obscure Objects of My Affectation

Before I start on another film post, let’s take a moment to revel in the fancy wordplay of that title. Did you even notice? Your brain wants you to read affection; affection is the word that makes sense there. And yet, no. Affectation. Because this is a blog post about wanting to seem better than we are; about how we sometimes choose our cultural touchstones based not on what we really like but on what we want others to think we like. Movies as cultural disguise.

Oh how clever…

I knew from a very young age that I loved movies. I was a voracious reader, I knew the words to all the songs in the Top 40, but it was movies that won my heart. Soon, loving movies was not what I did; it was who I was.

And, sure, Star Wars was great; Superman changed the wiring of my brain forever; but as I moved from straightforward thinking to that weird confused mess that we call “adolescent logic”, I knew that loving what everyone else loved was not going to make me interesting. I had to head out on one of those less-traveled roads. And in NE England in the early 90s, that meant foreign films. Films with subtitles. Films you needed to read, made by people in countries you’d never visited.

Have you ever heard of Jesus of Montreal? Of course you haven’t. No one has. At some point in the 90s, I would tell anyone who listened that this was my favorite movie. I also didn’t call it Jesus of Montreal; I called it (with heavy accent and lots of throat clearing) Jésus de Montréal. I was a cool kid and you wish you’d been my best friend back then, don’t you?

My adolescent atheism soon led me to disavow Jésus de Montréal. I replaced it with the much more defensible Cyrano de Bergerac. With (at that point, at least) everyone’s favorite Frenchman playing one of the world’s great romantics, with English subtitles written by Anthony Burgess. It was a great choice for the nascent intellectual snob. The kind of kid who showed up on a first date with a library copy of Plato’s Republic grasped in his sweaty hand. You know, just in case conversation needed a little pep at any point.

My god, I hate that kid.

But, we get older. Maybe we get a little more confident in who we are, and we don’t need the shield of a fake identity to hide behind. We can, shockingly, have unpopular opinions. Like, maybe, Transformers is really a pretty good spectacle movie. I’ll write more about that later. Or maybe the central message of The Incredibles is just a little tiny bit fascist? Also the subject of another post that has yet to be written. But to be finally more confident in who we are, what we like, and how we choose to live…this is a wonderful thing. And a nice place to realize I’ve finally reached, almost as if I’m ready to be a grown-up.

Finally, can I recommend a movie you might like? It’s called Northfork, a 2003 movie by the Polish brothers. It’s got James Woods, Daryl Hannah, Peter Coyote, and Anthony Edwards in it. Nick Nolte will break your heart. It’s one of my favorite films…you’ve probably never heard of it.


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