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Why I am a Cinephile

What follows is an incomplete list/prose/poem:

I am a cinephile because I actually believe what Robert Bresson believed about the camera and its relation to the human.

I am a cinephile because when I was a child my dad took me to see Smokey And The Bandit (Hal Needham) at the buck a movie theatre in the afternoon, and to see Blow Up (Antonioni) at the art theatre at night. At the end of the day I said to myself, "well I've seen everything."

And, as a result of that day and night, I learned how to tell the really important difference between one kind of thing and another.

I am cinephile because I am interested in seeing the results of any device, electronic or otherwise, that has recorded or documented practically anything about human beings and their relationships, whether active or inactive, whether known, unknown, or notorious, whether engaged in conversation or not, whether professional actors or everyday non-actors, whether the attractive or the homely, the well spoken, or the inarticulate.

I am a cinephile because I read Pauline Kael and Manny Farber as a child.

I am cinephile because of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers, because of Mark Sandrich and some outfit at that time called RKO.

Because of Catherine Deneuve.

Because of Fanny Ardant.

Because of Shirley Stoler.

Because of a man named Busby Berkeley who had a vision for a unique film style that, though it did not last, was a very good idea, of which we are most fortunate to have duplicates today.

Because of The Harvey Girls.

I am a cinephile because of that monologue at the end of La Maman et La Putain.

Because of Miou Miou.

I am a cinephile because I like the green of the park in Blow Up.

Because the soundtrack of Blow Up sounds like a Herbie Hancock Blue Note recording.

I am a cinephile because of Gregory Peck getting up on that horse again and again after each fall until he masters it in The Big Country.

I am a cinephile because of Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart but not necessarily in that order.

I am a cinephile because I read a book when I was a teenager containing interviews with all of these people called "directors of photography" with names like Owen Roizman, Bruce Surtees, Michael Chapman, and Gordon Willis. And in this book they spoke about locations and finding the right locations and lightness and darkness. I had no idea what they were talking about but I liked their stories. They seemed like old masters to me.

I am a cinephile because Chantal Akerman made the greatest film ever made about New York City and that is saying a lot.

I am cinephile because of Sharon Tate in Don't Make Waves.

Because of the different forms of color, sepia and black and white in Tarkovsky's Stalker.

Because of the wind in the trees in Antonioni and in Tarkovsky.

Because of the still-life and set pieces in Stalker, Solaris and Nostalgia.

Because I had my first date and first argument on a date watching a movie - a movie I liked and my date didn't, called Valley Girl.

Because I used to see the pictures of the drive-in in the distance and one time oversaw some footage of Peckinpah's Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia and wondered what all of these big men in loud suits and ties were arguing about.

Because of Sam Peckinpah and Warren Oates.

Because on a long greyhound bus trip across the south as a child I had a girl - who looked like Isabel Adjani - lecture and enlighten me on the virtues of The Marx Brothers and also demonstrate Yiddish to me, a language that I don't believe I had heard up to that point. Then I had to go home and watch Duck Soup and Night At The Opera with commercial interruption.

Because I had to record onto a cassette tape with a recorder Animal Crackers when it aired on t.v. and tried to learn and memorize the Captain Spaulding number.

I am a cinephile because in the 1970s I had to record onto a cassette tape the television airing of Guys And Dolls because I was in love with Jean Simmons and wanted to listen to her voice on the tape recorder. As I listened to the audio of this t.v. broadcast, my allegiances shifted ever so slowly to Vivian Blaine and in the end decided I liked her better.

Because of the others.

Because of Marie Menken.

Because of Barbara Rubin.

Because of Maya Deren.

Because of Viktor J. Kemper.

Because of Chisu Ryu and Satsuoko Hara facing me as if talking directly to me alone.

The beautiful poetry of Satsuoko Hara

Because a girl I dated in junior high school was in love with Dustin Hoffman, who to her was like a Robert Redford type of figure, and she would write these long and involved love letters to "Dustin" from her imagination, of their future life together. And we went to see Kramer Versus Kramer together and I really loved that girl we get to see naked that Dustin takes home. When "Dustin's" little son runs into the naked date (played by Jobeth Williams, making her a second nude after Julie Christie) in the hallway, he asks her if she likes fried chicken. When I told my date that I liked that scene she said something about this actress that I don't want to repeat here. I learned after that to not always say what was on my mind.

Because Cary Grant and Eve Marie Saint made me feel the value of kissing in North by Northwest.

I am a cinephile because I loved what women did when they got a hold of cameras and started to make their own movies, their own way.

Because no life is unimportant.

Because I like watching paint dry, provided it is a good color and we get a good view of it.

Because life is about figures in a landscape, foreground and background, the horizon, perspective.

Because Tarkovsky makes me into a Christian, to believe in and love Jesus, ready to reach death and the afterlife.

Because Luis Bunuel makes me into an atheist.

Because the men in Husbands, The Last Detail, and California Split are as funny and incomprehensible to me as any men I have ever met in my own life.

Because of the women in Le Amiche.

Because of two brothers: Albert and David Maysles.

Because of Three Women.

Because of Two Women.

Because of Frederick Wiseman's patience and observation with his camera.

Because the first sex scene I ever saw was on the big screen, between Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now.

Because I had to beg my parents to take me to see Persona again as a child - because I didn't want to miss anything I was sure that I had missed the first time around.

Because of John Cazale in anything.

Because Jacques Rivette filmed Michel Piccoli as a fictional painter painting a portrait of a nude Emanuelle Beart.

Because of all of Jacques Rivette.

Because I cried so hard when Harry loses his cat Tonto in Mazursky's Harry And Tonto and felt I understood things I hadn't before as a result of my tears.

Because sometimes I would see a movie so funny that I would erupt into paroxysms of laughter than made my body shake and my gut expand and contract, like the most powerful drug high you could imagine, and afterwards I would feel that I would never get a cold or a disease and would live forever. It happened with pictures by Mel Brooks, by the Marx Brothers, by Jerry Lewis and by some guy from Wisconsin by the name of Michael Ritchie.

I am a cinephile because everytime I watched one of those video tapes at home in the 1980s it was in the company of my parents or lots of other people, and they would talk incessantly, about the hairdos and wardrobe of the actors or how ugly or attractive somebody was, or how offensive and demeaning the content was and so on. At the very least, in a public movie theatre there were rules about keeping silent.

Because the death of Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman on the same day was no coincidence; both were sent to earth by the Creator to teach us things.

Because okay I included Jean Luc Godard's name, are you happy?

I am a cinephile because the only Clint Eastwood movies I love (after Play Misty For Me and Tightrope) are Any Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can. The rest have their moment but you can keep them.

Because I was born analog and have an analog mentality.

Because I am an Empty Formalist, all the way down.

Because I prefer night to day.

Mitch's beloved Boston Harbor at Night


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From one cimephile to another...your post is a treasure. I can see I will be learning from you! Going to check out most of the links and references.

Two you missed: Last Year at Marienbad, and Juliet of the Spirits.

Last Year In Marienbad - Mastery Of The Ethereal


Mitch  Hampton
Mitch Hampton
Jul 11, 2022
Replying to

Well I loved getting your comment on this post. There are many, many films I do love that simply weren't included in this poem, including Fellini and Alain Resnais. My favorite Resnais films are Mon Oncle D'Amerique and PROVIDENCE. I feel bad in a way for the films that I didn't include that others too might want to be in this post. This isn't meant to be any kind of survey of history of film, not even a best list. As you know from some of titles I have there are films in here that really aren't very good, like certain exploitation or low budget films that had and have a great impact on me. It's a very idiosyncratic account…

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