Getting Your Friends To Watch Weird Shit.
I’ve met a lot of people. I’m talking about real people here, and let me tell you, a lot of them are fucking idiots. Everything on their Netflix history is bad, subjectively and objectively speaking, no matter which way you spin it; age set, cultural background and all that jazz. I take pride in knowing most, if not all, of my close family and friends aren’t one of those people, because they have exclusive access to me.
Mark, let’s call him, one of my buddies, came to hang around and catch up and maybe do drugs and perhaps watch a movie. He let me pick something out, since it was well known as my forte. Mark, God bless him, was as equal part arrogant and ignorant as wartime Nazi. He loved football, he was smart, he excelled at pretty much everything, but he had horrible taste. Just horrible taste in general.
He dressed terribly, his charisma and charm the only saving grace with the ladies. God forbid you pass him the AUX cord on a car ride, you’ll be reduced to listening to the same Atlanta type hip hop every kid smoking weed, sipping lean and popping pills on their parents tab listens to these days. His taste for movies and television was worse, with a marked hatred for anything that was made before he had attained the age of ten, roughly thirteen years ago.
“I don’t wanna watch no Adam Sandler movie, nigga,” he barked when I pulled up Uncut Gems on Netflix. He always got like this when he drank a little vodka. More sure of himself than usual, and it annoyed everybody. He was cool but his ego was much too outsized for his character. Moments like this, all one wanted to do was slap him into submission, but instead I spoke gently.
“It’s so hip hop bro. So new and exciting, there’s nothing like it,” I waxed poetic before guilt tripping him for making me binge three seasons of The Office with him four months prior. When that didn’t penetrate his dark and strangely hollow soul, I told him all about one of the film’s stars, Julia Fox, and how bad she was. I may have mentioned The Weeknd was in it too and he begrudgingly agreed.
He thought it would be a typical American comedy chock full of fart jokes and juvenile exploits due to its leading man but all I told him going in was that it was not going to be like that at all. “Hold on to your seat and put that phone on airplane mode, asshole,” to which he shrugged, and we started the movie.
Here’s the funny thing about showing a friend a film you really love, it’s like an audition every time. You bait your breath and cross the proverbial fingers and hope your opinion remains valid after 120 minutes. It’s not only a judgment of the movie playing on screen but a judgment of your taste, your opinion of their class, and the distance to which you understand your friend. You often feel like you failed at all these things when you see your buddy holding their chin and watching it the same way he did your high school Sunday morning preacher, as often is the case.
Mark took out his phone after three minutes of film, once we were over the Ethiopian mine sequence the action died down and thus the perfect time to feed his tri- hourly urge to check Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, not always in that order but for the most part yeah. I watched but didn’t say anything. As soon as Sandler first appeared he put it away and resumed his position of supreme boredom. I told him how that particular movie had a physical effect on a person. Yes, a physical effect, he had heard me right.
“Bullshit,” he said, and the bet was made. He straightened himself up which may have misled a less experienced man with this kind of cajoling but there was no fooling me. He still wasn’t sold, and no silly verbal bet would make it so. No, I had to make this viewing experience entirely his own. I had to give it to him on a silver platter, make him feel like it was made just for him.
The things that fascinated me about the film would probably make no sense to a cinematic rube like Mark. Uncut Gems’ cinematography appealed to me. The way the tight shots inject you into the mind frame of the unbalanced main character from the word go. Its attention to its own narrative detail, especially noticeable on repeat viewings, the setting, and of course the performances.
Mark was a funny guy, restless too. He liked to talk but sometimes he talked too much. But when he talked he was interesting, and he very clearly liked to hear himself speak. And this was how I would make the movie his. I would talk him through it. Not guide him like you would a blind man through a well-lit, spacious alley but basically we didn’t take it too seriously. We made quips all through it and made each other laugh just as much as Sandler didn’t. He was more engaged that way than he would ever have been.
By the end of the movie, which you should all go see as a matter of fact, he had sweat on his damn forehead. The last ten minutes or so of Uncut Gems are so brilliantly engaging that when seen right, and I’ve seen it right with a few people, they can hardly stay on their seats. One can only understand what I’m talking about here once they see the film in question, but basically he loved it.
Kisses of the back of my hand followed along with his admittance of being wrong, which was greatly satisfying. I then told him about the directors other equally brilliant movie, Good Times, with Robert Pattinson, and all the geeky reasons I loved that film too. I hoped that he had seen the light, and that he would seek out the good stuff from now on, starting with Good Time but I was dead wrong of course. You can’t change people’s taste, you can’t elevate their horizons indefinitely, you can only do so for a short period of time. One movie at a go, for two hours a piece. They’ll probably keep watching the stuff you and most of the intelligent world think is horrible, but you gotta walk them through the treasure castles every now and again.
Written by Churchill Osimbo.