I Like Licorice, You’d Rather Eat Dog Shit

When I wracked my brain for a media event I could attend as a means for blog inspiration, my mind returned with nothing. Sure, I could reference something I had done in the weeks past, but I wanted to focus on something much more present in my mind. And without any events I felt compelled to attend, I figured I might as well create one.

First, I was tasked to find my audience. This was easy. I’ve been staying with my uncle, his fiancé, and his son for the past month and a half, constantly talking their ears off about movies, all that they’re missing out on by not reading contextual additives for my favorite franchises, and one specific jewel in the now-saturated genre of comic book movies: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. With nearly one week until I left, I finally wore them down enough to sit down in front of what I assumed would be the best cinematic experience of their life.

As I pressed play, I had a faint feeling of discomfort and questioned my plan. Would forcing them to watch this movie make them love it? Would I enjoy it for the sixth time? Do I even have enough knowledge about movies to tell people that this movie is objectively good?

But as quickly as that feeling arose, it faded. I heard the 8-bit remix of the Universal Studios Theme and fell into a trance. Without pause, for an hour and fifty-two minutes I sat, head on a swivel, looking back and forth between what I love, and my relatives (teehee).

It is rare to have an experience in which one can teach and be taught. I was both a presenter, but also a viewer. I could show my audience something unique and innovative whist learning from them that unique and innovative don’t mean the same thing to everyone.

I’d love to say they adored it. I know I did. But I think it’s almost more important to realize that it’s okay for them not to like it. I tend to write off things that I am not immediately attracted to. A movie that doesn’t immediately pique my interest may fall by the wayside for me, while someone else finds it speaks to them in a way no other film has.

As students of film, and pursuers of quality creative products, we must work to both create our own opinions on things we find interesting, but also understand the opinions of those around us. As stated best by my 14-year-old cousin who is just learning of the world of cinema, “It’s cool for you to like cheesy movies dude. That’s your thing. I think I like good ones.”

The reason that film is so important to so many of us is because we can all find our unique perspectives within the broad range of cinema that is created. Film is just like candy: I like salty licorice, but you’d rather eat dog shit.

–Atlas Finch


Oh Hi, Mark

Last Friday Coral, Jordan, Atlas, and I went to see one of the worst movies ever made.

On purpose.

In the process, we got to experience one of Portland’s (arguably) coolest local offerings: Cinema 21. The movie theater, located on 21st street, always offers more small-screen, carefully curated fare than other large blockbuster theaters. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to see a few amazing films there that I couldn’t catch anywhere else; The Red ShoesThe Illusionist, and Tarkovsky’s Stalker to name a few. That night, we went to see The Room, Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 drama—a movie many film critics have called “the worst film of all time.” The theater was offering an interactive viewing, a la Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Not only was I pumped to go to an interactive viewing of one of the most terrible movies ever, I had actually already gone to see an interactive viewing for The Room at Cinema 21 a few years previous. To be fair, Tommy himself was at this viewing, and his strange behavior during the Q&A proceeding the film will definitely go down as one of my most cherished high school memories. Safe to say that I’d enjoyed myself at this viewing so much that as soon as tickets were available for last Friday, I was already asking my MISC classmates if they wanted to come.

Even without Tommy, The Room didn’t disappoint during a second public viewing. As the four of us queued up at the front of a line that wrapped all the way around the block, we started seeing people dressed in khaki pants, blazers, and dark sunglasses. Some even wore dark curly-haired wigs; their transformation into Johnny, the main character of The Room, was uncanny. Portlanders were going all out for this movie. I knew this was gonna be good.

I was also nervous, and excited, to bring along Atlas and Jordan, neither of whom had seen the film before; interactive viewings are intense. In the lobby of theater used to stand a giant, poster board sized sign that delineated when and how audiences of The Room are ‘suggested’ to interact with the masterpiece. In practice, things are a little less organized: over the course of the film, lines are screamed, sound effects are enthusiastically improvised, and there are intermittent cries of “SPOONS!” followed by hail storms of—you guessed it-- plastic spoons, prompted by onscreen setpieces.

However, despite the barrage of utensils, we all got through the movie intact and I think I speak for all of us when I say I had a fantastic time. Normally, I’m one for keeping quiet in the movie theater and letting the film wash over you, drawing you into its narrative. With that in mind, I can safely say that the interactive viewing of The Room is possibly the best way to enjoy the film—there’s something about watching adults scream “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!!” in a crowded theater, complete with hand gestures, that smacks of community, or even something uniquely Portland.

But who knows; maybe it’s the nonsensical cuts, the random football tossing, or Wiseau’s brilliant line delivery that just makes for a plain fantastic time. 

–Lucy Stevens

My Private Oregon

For the next six weeks, our Summer Documentary Program students will be taking the wheel at the blog. In our first student post, Lucy Stevens (Carleton College 2018) reflects on her time at our "summer camp" orientation in Gearhart.

At MISC’s coastal summer camp, one might describe the learning curve as ‘experimental.' Sunday afternoon, as one giant mass, we put on our headphones and found our training wheels together. It was simultaneously hilarious and enlightening; here we were, tottering around on sleepy beach-town back roads, extending out our new microphones towards the environment the way eccentrics comb the local beach with metal detectors.

Unlike most of the students on this program, as a native Portlandian, I grew up going to the Oregon coast and have actually spent a lot of time in and around Gearhart. However, I was surprised as the familiar roar of the ocean and titter of birdsong, fed to me through my earbuds, took on a different quality, becoming more crisp and intimate. Suddenly, each crunching gravel footstep, each peal of laugher, became potential material for my audio postcard, one of our current assignments.

Though the tiny device in my hand, the native soundscape was becoming creative material. I began to interview the others intensely, almost tongue-in-cheek, half searching for sound bites and half wondering at the power of my Zoom H1—and entirely certain that most of my recordings were going to be drowned out by audible distortion of the coastal breeze. But that was a minor concern; after nights of enjoying creatively scrapped-together meals, watching scary movies, and sharing anecdotes about our different lives across the country, it was exciting to be making our own content together.

By Monday morning, after a somewhat bewildering (but entertaining) screening of My Own Private Idaho the night before, the time for tinkering was over: our MISC group was taking Astoria to test our interviewing skills! It was really interesting to go back to a town I’ve hung around in the past to interview a complete stranger. I ended up having two conversations with people from two entirely different walks of life, but I think that I ended up with a much more fully fleshed-out impression of Astoria as a permanent residence and as a brief stopping place.

Afterwards, everyone seemed to have peeled back some interesting corner of Astoria through each of their interviews. I’m so excited to read more about the stories they uncovered! 

–Lucy Stevens