' ' Cinema Romantico: David Thomson & Living In Dream

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

David Thomson & Living In Dream

David Thomson is by far my favorite non-everyday film critic. No one sees the cinema nor writes about the cinema in quite the same way as him, which is among the highest compliments one can bestow upon a writer of any format. I had long held the impression his ostensible biography of Nicole Kidman was mere trash, a mash note, a love letter extended over nearly 300 pages. This notion, as I should have known all along, was utterly mis-held.

It is not a true biography at all. Rather it is a fascinating, hilarious and really, really strange look not simply at the exemplary career of Ms. Kidman as an actress but as her place in the culture as a celebrity. I won't even tell you where he goes with his chapter on Nicole's Chanel No. 5 ad. Only Thomson, man.

Thomson's prose never fails to routinely leave me joyfully reeling, looking up from the page for a minute or two to ruminate on some sentence (or series of them). One passage in particular from "Nicole Kidman" that was not even about Nicole Kidman knocked off my proverbial reading glasses. I loved it. I loved every word of it. I have included the passage verbatim below and will offer no context nor commentary. I simply offer it for you to read and consider.

"And here we come to a remarkable and distressing paradox in the American or the mainstream movie: that while the medium is founded on fantasy involvement, still so much of its material is held up to to short-sighted and depleting schemes of what is plausible. The audience, the customers, have always gone to see movies to make an imaginative journey - that of rising from their seats in the dark and going up to exist on the bright screen, in the sublimity of heightened behavior. But as if we're ashamed of yielding so much to the fanciful in America, we then go to great neurotic lengths to persuade ourselves that the action of movies is 'plausible.' And so the medium is innately dreamlike, while the content is ostensibly photographic and lifelike. Thus, we hope, we keep faith with our existence as a hardworking, rational, scientifically minded, capitalist culture - as opposed to people living in dream."

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