Friday, January 02, 2009


A Time to Love and a Time to Die by Douglas Sirk, 1958:

"[...] Vivian and Patricia, do you have any ideas about why the world of cinephilia is so predominantly male? I do know a lot of women who are movie-lovers, but of course you’re right. I have a feeling it has something to do with the greater culture. When I was a kid, there wasn’t really anyone else my age who I could talk to about Howard Hawks or George Cukor. When I was in my 20s, I knew plenty of people who liked movies, but there was a difference: as a close friend of mine put it, you’re seeing life and death up there on the screen and your loved one is saying “Wasn’t that nice” and then thinking about where to go for dinner. So there was always a feeling of solitude and privacy that went hand in hand with loving cinema. I’m reminded of Jim Jarmusch’s anecdote, quoted by Jonathan Rosenbaum, about going to Italy and being able to talk to the bartenders and waiters about Dante. Whereas “if you walk into a bar and quote poetry here, they stick a gun up your ass.” Denigration of the arts in general is still quite acceptable here. How much this has to do with the differences between men and women and their respective approaches to cinephilia, I don’t know — let’s just say that while it’s not quite as bad as it was when I was younger, it’s still true that certain things are expected of men, and a familiarity with the arts is not among them. Opportunities to talk about movies in the most frivolous way are numerous, while opportunities to have in-depth exchanges about them are few and far between. In my experience, men flock to such opportunities when they arise. Women do a bit less.

"This is my own experience, and I’m sure that other people have different takes on the matter. [...]"

—Kent Jones, in the comments over at Dave Kehr's place.

"At the cinema, the screen would light up and we'd shiver. But more often we'd be disappointed, Madeleine and me. The images seemed old and flickery. Marilyn Monroe had aged terribly. We were sad. This wasn't the film we had imagined, the perfect film each of us had carried within us, that film we would like to have made or, perhaps, even to have lived."




  1. Very interesting. Jarmusch's quote rings painfully true, as does Kent's "you’re seeing life and death up there on the screen and your loved one is saying 'Wasn’t that nice.'" Thanks.

  2. cinema viewing is more of an individual thing, even when you go with another person. women tend to enjoy more social activites in their spare time. in short men become obsessed with darkness, women enjoy the light...

  3. That quote from "M/F," btw, is adapted from Perec's "Les Choses."


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