I finally got around to buying Monty Python’s Life of Brian this month, which is a film I really enjoyed as a teenager but haven’t seen in about five years. Fortunately, it was as brilliant and funny as I remember (perhaps even more so), and I can say with confidence that it ranks in my top three favourite films of all time.
The other two films in my top three are Amelie and A history of violence. Amelie is simply refreshing – a film that delights in the little things that make our lives different and quirky. A history of violence was a surprise love – I almost refused to go and see it at the cinema. Happily, I went and was blown away by the rich portrayal of emotion felt by the characters, and by the visually stunning violence (!)
I wonder what an analyst would make of me given my favourite films are so different (slapstick and language-based comedy, lighthearted and endearing drama, and emotional drama coupled with uber-violence). What I find interesting is that I can’t do a similar thing with books – and the book I considered my favourite until recently did not bear up under repeated reading (Microserfs by Douglas Coupland). I wonder if this is because the last Coupland I read hit a nerve and Doug fell out of favour?
I sometimes think that I read to discover something, but what that is, I don’t know. I am always disappointed to finish a book (with the possible exception of the latest Adrian Mole book by Sue Townsend – Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction: the ending was wonderful and left me satisfied and happy). I don’t know if this tendency to continue searching is reflective of the deep (and possibly dependent) relationship I have with reading and books; perhaps it is easier to select favourites when one is less inclined or able to be critical. I am reminded of a Sharon Kivland quote published in Transmission: Speaking and Listening – volume 1, which I have used in an essay on more than one occasion:
“Loss is implicit in making a work of art because, as Louise Bourgeois once remarked, you wouldn’t make work if you were happy… loss is important… it’s what makes one make something because one doesn’t have it, and the thing one makes is never enough… there’s a next one and a next one.”
Substitute loss for lacking, and making a work of art for reading, and perhaps we come close to the mark. Maybe there is little distinction for me between making a work of art and reading, because reading forces me to create things – images, worlds, people… One thing is for certain – there is always the next read.