It's a rainy gray day here in Manhattan --the type of day where I find myself zoning out, lost in memories, cinematic or otherwise...
There's an interesting very personal essay over at The Bilerico Project from Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore on watching or, rather, rewatching Todd Haynes [Safe] . For those who haven't seen the 1995 movie, it's about a woman who becomes allergic to her environment. It's been called (accurately) a "horror movie of the soul" and it was a critical breakthrough in the careers of both writer / director Todd Haynes and actress Julianne Moore --it was the first time she was asked to carry a film.
I've watched the movie several times and each trip through has felt a little different. One scene or another will meekly ask a question I hadn't heard before like it's aping its protagonist Carol White (Julianne Moore) and phrasing everything like a question. Another mildly bothersome scene might scare me so much I want to turn the DVD off before I start hyperventilating like Carol in a parking garage. The scene that Matillda focuses on in the essay --the "where am I?" moment, I barely noticed the last time I watched the movie and now I want to watch it again right now. Probably not a good idea when my hypochondria has been in full bloom this week.
[Safe], or Safe if you prefer, is a mutating virus of a movie. Even or especially from the present tense of watching it to the past tense of looking back on it. Whether that be the next day or many years later. I still remember the first time I saw it in college. My friends and I didn't talk about it much after the movie was over (unusual for us). A week later one of my girlfriends says, out of the blue, 'that movie terrified me.' Suddenly you couldn't shut us up. We were ready to discuss.
If you haven't seen the movie, schedule the appointment. If you have, tell us about your first time through. Do you feel differently about it now?