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CaveGirl

Film Disorientation

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I read once, though I may be hallucinating, that the human body enjoys a bit of disorientation achieved as a child by spinning oneself around or getting on a roller coaster. As an adult though, if you crave continually riding on a roller coaster for that high, that you may have a very high threshhold for pleasure, which could predict bouts of trying to achieve it in dangerous ways via drugs or whatever. But the study said that normal humans who don't need major endorphins to feel good, can get that high by being slightly tipsy from one glass of champagne and all is right with their world.

I like to achieve said state of disorientation by watching the film "The Big Sleep". I never really thought about it, till the other day when I caught it on some channel and had only missed the credits. Realizing I've probably seen it over twenty-five times, I started laughing to myself, saying "Maybe for once, I will really try to actually follow the storyline and figure out what really happened."

Now the sad part is, why in the world had I never figured this out before. I mean, I know the story from front to back, and even sideways. I know all the characters and have read many books by Chandler, and even Faulkner so I should have some idea of the plot. I mean we start off with Marlowe entering General Sternwood's house and I should be paying attention as he talks about nutso daughter, Carmen and his concern for employee, Sean Regan, and how Mr. Geiger is sending him debt messages, but I never do as I'm looking at all the hothouse plant displays which remind me of Hepburn's in "Suddenly Last Summer" and I think about the name Sternwood, meaning something about the character just like the name, Blanche du Bois, meaning White Wood is important. Then we have the muddle of all that Mad Dog Riley stuff, Vivian Rutledge's machinations and the Acme Bookstore, and fattish Geiger and Agnes, and meeting up with Harry Jones, and the great bungalow setting with all that cool Asian furnishings with hidden cameras, and Eddie Mars and Canino and did Owen Taylor off himself or not, and who just shot Joe Brody and this becomes a whirlwind. I always get to the end of this film, and have basically not even tried to follow its plot, but this time I buckled down and really paid strict attention to all the threads and must admit by the end, I could have explained it to Chandler and even Faulkner, in detail.

But now I'm wondering...was this really necessary for enjoyment of the film? I kind of don't think so, and it probably is just more fun to let the whole morass of cryptic details wash over one, and not be bothered by where it is going or ends up. I think there are movies like this which are just enjoyable to peruse without making a big deal of the plot issues. I feel I may be in good company here, since noted critic and author, James Agee apparently gave this review of the film back in its heyday which seems prescient, unlike many then who criticized the convoluted storyline:

"Time film critic, James Agee, called the film "wakeful fare for folks who don't care what is going on, or why, so long as the talk is hard and the action harder" but insists that "the plot's crazily mystifying, nightmare blur is an asset, and only one of many"."

I think Agee got it. And I think there are other movies in which one should just let the film wash over them, like a light rainfall with a rainbow up above to look at. What other movies have ridiculous plots yet are great films and a pleasure to watch over and over?

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You should catch the 1978 remake with Mitchum, it follows the book closer and leaves out the tacked on romance, the story is brought up to the then present 1978, and the local is switched to the UK, but it works in it's own curious way. 

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13 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

I read once, though I may be hallucinating, that the human body enjoys a bit of disorientation achieved as a child by spinning oneself around or getting on a roller coaster. As an adult though, if you crave continually riding on a roller coaster for that high, that you may have a very high threshhold for pleasure, which could predict bouts of trying to achieve it in dangerous ways via drugs or whatever. But the study said that normal humans who don't need major endorphins to feel good, can get that high by being slightly tipsy from one glass of champagne and all is right with their world.

I like to achieve said state of disorientation by watching the film "The Big Sleep". I never really thought about it, till the other day when I caught it on some channel and had only missed the credits. Realizing I've probably seen it over twenty-five times, I started laughing to myself, saying "Maybe for once, I will really try to actually follow the storyline and figure out what really happened."

Now the sad part is, why in the world had I never figured this out before. I mean, I know the story from front to back, and even sideways. I know all the characters and have read many books by Chandler, and even Faulkner so I should have some idea of the plot. I mean we start off with Marlowe entering General Sternwood's house and I should be paying attention as he talks about nutso daughter, Carmen and his concern for employee, Sean Regan, and how Mr. Geiger is sending him debt messages, but I never do as I'm looking at all the hothouse plant displays which remind me of Hepburn's in "Suddenly Last Summer" and I think about the name Sternwood, meaning something about the character just like the name, Blanche du Bois, meaning White Wood is important. Then we have the muddle of all that Mad Dog Riley stuff, Vivian Rutledge's machinations and the Acme Bookstore, and fattish Geiger and Agnes, and meeting up with Harry Jones, and the great bungalow setting with all that cool Asian furnishings with hidden cameras, and Eddie Mars and Canino and did Owen Taylor off himself or not, and who just shot Joe Brody and this becomes a whirlwind. I always get to the end of this film, and have basically not even tried to follow its plot, but this time I buckled down and really paid strict attention to all the threads and must admit by the end, I could have explained it to Chandler and even Faulkner, in detail.

But now I'm wondering...was this really necessary for enjoyment of the film? I kind of don't think so, and it probably is just more fun to let the whole morass of cryptic details wash over one, and not be bothered by where it is going or ends up. I think there are movies like this which are just enjoyable to peruse without making a big deal of the plot issues. I feel I may be in good company here, since noted critic and author, James Agee apparently gave this review of the film back in its heyday which seems prescient, unlike many then who criticized the convoluted storyline:

"Time film critic, James Agee, called the film "wakeful fare for folks who don't care what is going on, or why, so long as the talk is hard and the action harder" but insists that "the plot's crazily mystifying, nightmare blur is an asset, and only one of many"."

I think Agee got it. And I think there are other movies in which one should just let the film wash over them, like a light rainfall with a rainbow up above to look at. What other movies have ridiculous plots yet are great films and a pleasure to watch over and over?

First...another terrific thread premise here, CG. And once again, very astutely posed.

Secondly, and to answer your question here...the first film that crossed my mind which I think encompasses this same sort of "disorienting" cinematic experience(at least it has always felt this way to me anyway) would be Apocalypse Now.

In my view this film has always been a great example of that old saw about "the journey being more important than the destination".

(...and which in a way seems like another way of expressing the same thought as your thread's premise here)

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I find that a lot of David Lynch's stuff is best enjoyed with the analytical parts of the brain suitably relaxed by the intoxicant of your choice. I like Lynch's films. Or perhaps it's the intoxicants? Who knows/cares?

*Hums 'Blue Velvet'...* 😉

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On 5/16/2018 at 7:24 PM, cigarjoe said:

You should catch the 1978 remake with Mitchum, it follows the book closer and leaves out the tacked on romance, the story is brought up to the then present 1978, and the local is switched to the UK, but it works in it's own curious way. 

Thanks, CigarJoe! I have seen that film and I actually really enjoyed it, just based on its own cache. You are so right that it has its own charm and works, even though Mitchum is a bit old for the part, but still, Mitchum is always fun to watch. I love reading Chandler's works, and recall some saying he wrote beautifully but in person was such an old curmudgeon. Always thought his wife Sissy [?] was the inspiration for the detective story called "The Chill" by Ross MacDonald.

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On 5/17/2018 at 1:26 AM, Dargo said:

First...another terrific thread premise here, CG. And once again, very astutely posed.

Secondly, and to answer your question here...the first film that crossed my mind which I think encompasses this same sort of "disorienting" cinematic experience(at least it has always felt this way to me anyway) would be Apocalypse Now.

In my view this film has always been a great example of that old saw about "the journey being more important than the destination".

(...and which in a way seems like another way of expressing the same thought as your thread's premise here)

You are so kind, Dargo. I can see making that generous contribution to your shell company has softened your feelings toward my posts. And yes, "Apocalypse Now" definitely has a disorienting effect as does the daily miasma of napalm in the air. Shoot, even being in the movie could cause disorientation, cuz didn't Sheen have a heart attack during shooting or something like that? Thanks, Dargo!

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