8½

★★★★★

"Asa nisi masa."

Just as I walk into the room, it dawns on me that I'm unprepared. Whatever I was supposed to do, I didn't do it. I'm not finished yet. How did I get here? Why would I have come if I wasn't ready? The others are all there, looking and laughing, knowing I've made a fool of myself. I sit down because I know I have to, because I know it's what's expected of me, because I know it's what I'm supposed to do. But I'm not ready! I think, but my mouth won't move, and the looming authority has already begun—

Awake. I roll over to check the time: still 30 minutes before I have to get up. I look over my notes, hiding in the warm folds of my bed's embrace. I still don't have much to say about The Andromeda Strain. Counterintuitive by today's standards, and it's got some fantastically creative editing, but that's not enough for a full review. I'll do another short one and then get started on last night's movie. Hopefully no one will mind if I do another so soon after Sunset Boulevard. Heck, that one's done better than any of my more thorough reviews anyway. That movie last night really was incredible though. I roll onto my back, already lost in thought and forgetting my plans to get up early and get some extra work done. My eyelids drift shut as I remember the night before.

The credits rolled and I flicked off the television and snapped up my pen to jot down some final thoughts. "...could try to do something similar for me, try to tell the truth, open with something like..." That was amazing. How am I ever going to write about that? It knows so much more about itself than I ever will. Even tackling something as ostensibly simple as its cinematography feels like it would take an entire book to cover faithfully...

My eyes pop back open and I know I've lost what little head start I might have had. It was a good idea though: I could try something creative, something like the director did with his film. I could try to talk about the process of writing a review the way he talked about the process of making a movie. As I walk into the bathroom to shave, all my ideas from the night before come flooding back, like warm water filling my mind. I could write it like the writer from the film! I could be overly critical and nitpicky and talk about the ADR or the person pretending to play violin! Or I could talk about how I'd like to write joke reviews and be comically dismissive—"yeah, okay, it's a masterpiece, whatever"—but that I never feel like I'm funny enough to do the films justice! I could do all these things I've never had the courage to try in a format where I can talk about the fear that holds me back!

But as I put my razor down and step in the shower, all my newfound confidence rushes out my pores and down the drain. The warmth is replaced by a cold anxiety, and I shiver against the hot pressure of the rain from the shower head. It's too self-centered. They'll see right through it. They'll think I'm just not smart enough to have anything intelligent to say about such a brilliant movie. Or worse, they'll think I want to compare myself to the director, to say I'm as good as him. How would I even end it anyway? Even if that gimmicky style works out, I need a good point to end on. I thought my ideas were clear, but what does it mean? The chaos of my churning mind assaults me like the sharp drops of water against my back.

I'm back in school, afraid of the teacher, afraid of my classmates, afraid of failing. So afraid of everything that I never push myself hard enough in any one direction.

"Whatever you choose now, it doesn't have to be written in stone. You can always change your mind. No one's keeping score." I don't remember who said it, but it seems to reshape everything.

"l wish l could explain, but l don't know how. Now everything's all confused once again, like it was before, but this confusion is me, as l am, not as l'd like to be. l'm no longer afraid of telling the truth about what l don't know, what l'm looking for, what l haven't found. Only this way do l feel alive. Only this way can l look into your faithful eyes without shame. Life is a celebration. Let's live it together."

I step out of the shower, still dripping with hesitation, but now there's determination driving me forward against the slippery floor. Okay, I'm ready. As ready as I'll ever be anyway. I sit down and start to type, "Just as I walk into the room..."

Metacinema | Rewatch List | List of Shame
Spaceship! (sort of)

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