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Reeling

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There is no way to end a column and make everybody happy, just as there is no way to end a movie and make everybody happy.

First, I'll proffer the requisite ending for a film column, a few of my favorite cinematic endings: Scotty in the bell tower in "Vertigo"; Alvy and his eggs in "Annie Hall"; Betty/Diane/whoever blowing her brains out in "Mulholland Drive"; Divine eating shit tartare in "Pink Flamingos." But my ending will be nothing like these.

I'm writing this on BART, where I am en route to see Werner Herzog's new documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," which I am reviewing in this issue of the Daily Cal for the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Actually, the sad reality is I'm laying in bed and grazing on the low sodium (least favorite words) barbecue chips that were left on my nightstand. But in a few hours, I will be on that train, sitting on those drab faded seats of indeterminate color while catching a mean case of MRSA, hurtling toward that "Cave" of cinema dreams.

The journey to the Sundance Kabuki Cinema in Japantown is a long and even harrowing experience ("There's no earthly way of knowing / Which direction we are going," sang Willy Wonka in the hell tunnel). But I'll go, I'll go, because it's Werner Herzog. And it's not like he's going to come join me in my cave - the bed cave, with the crumbs and the self-loathing - cooing in my ear with that downy yet brooding voice of his as I feed him some all-natural, gluten-less goodness.

But this is merely my fantasy, and I bet it's yours, too, so I will go to him instead. Herz so good.

The fact that someone such as myself is willing to make a long night's journey into even-later-night just to see a movie says something about the general life of moviegoers and what gets them off.

We are drawn to movies. We go and see them in the hope that they will move or entertain us somehow, whether that means traveling two feet, two keystrokes or two hours (as I once did to see "The Hours"). When all is said and done, film as an art form is about having the experience rather than the telling that follows. You don't go to a movie so you can recall it to someone later, and you might not even go to remember it, either. The point is the experience itself.

If a movie is really doing it for you - as the good ones do - and you feel that mechanical click, then you should be somewhat at a loss for words, because great films are always something of a mystery.

I suppose this might negate everything I've tried to do in my column, but I just like to prime you for that experience, or join you in reflecting on it afterward. But don't take my word for it.

All nighters, missed deadlines and weeping-into-bowls-of-pasta aside, this has been a most unconventional semester for me. Call it an era. Writing this column has kept me continually thinking a cinephile's thoughts and always doing a cinephile's work, however devious. That's not an unusual pattern for me, but at least I got to do it in public once a week for 12 inches at a time.

Cut to me, now at the Kabuki. I'm sitting in the lounge, finishing a glass of wine that was too expensive and too small. The movie should start soon, and knowing that sends me reeling.

Tags: REELING






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