I like. I like to look, to see. I like colors and lines, form and composition. I like people. I like to see a story, a thought, a problem, an intellect unfold before my eyes. I’m fairly easy to please but I demand one thing: sincerity. I watch films, new and old, because there’s nothing like completely immersing yourself in someone else’s world. I like the experimentation of the Nouvelle Vague because it’s trying something. I like films that blur the lines between fiction and reality (see: Chris Marker or cinéma vérité), which is why I like dreams. I like people who give great interviews (like the actor Ben Whishaw or the concert pianist Mitsuko Uchida or the political theorist Hannah Arendt) because they won’t answer the interviewer’s questions exactly as they were asked.
I like The Piano by Jane Campion, Hiroshima, mon amour and L’année dernière à Marienbad by Alain Resnais, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Tom Tykwer, and The Piano Teacher by Michael Haneke. I struggle to find a common thread in content or form but here it is: I like these films because they are beautiful. Beautifully framed, told, paced, and grotesque. These films make you look, and in looking, feel. At the end you’ve had an experience, you didn’t passively watch. You are drained.
But the beautiful only exists for me where there is also the ugly. The human experience is complicated; to reduce it to delight, to pleasure, to happiness, is to delude. And so I am drawn to portraits by the Austrian artist Egon Schiele, in which strangely elegant, skeletal, ugly figures with arthritic, monstrous hands capture your attention. You are mesmerized and they are beautiful.