Charting movies I've viewed over the past couple weeks is a decent way of mapping my state of mind. I watched The Hidden Fortress for the second time since I got it on DVD a while ago, and for a while I badly wanted to just watch other movies like it, except I couldn't think of any. That has gotta be one of the most persistently engrossing movies in history.
So I then watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, figuring it was another movie about a ragtag group of adventurers on a dangerous journey through strange lands. But my mind kept wandering. It wasn't quite the same, as much as I do love that movie.
Notorious worked much better. There's something rich about every moment in that movie. Every line a character says has a kind of lush depth that seems to get better every time I watch.
Then, a few nights ago, I caught some footage on MSNBC of men in Central Park stopping female passers-by in broad daylight, tearing off their clothes and fondling them, while a large visible group of bystanders did nothing. These bystanders were made up of ordinary-looking men and women of various ages. The reporter's voice-over had that casual, another-normal-piece-of-news tone to it. But it had quite an effect on me. I kept thinking about how this was a normal sampling of humanity, that most of the people I see walking around downtown, who I have faith in to have a certain underlying degree of concern for their fellow man, have absolutely none, and are merely behaving as they do because it's proscribed by the invisible, omnipresent public eye.
And, yeah, call me naïve, but I do tend to settle into a state of mind that regards these people as wanting nothing more than to be happy without harming others. Maybe I have to think that way so a note of anger doesn't creep into my voice when I interact with them. That MSNBC video really starkly brought home to me that the vast majority of people out there really don't have a mind of their own.
I thought about the characters Tahei and Matakishi in The Hidden Fortress. They're small minded people, their focus entirely on hiding from danger and scraping whatever riches they can from the dirt. It's made clear they wouldn't hesitate to rape Princess Yuki if they had the chance. And yet much of the movie is told from their point of view. I guess Kurosawa knew what "common" really meant, and that nobility really is rare.
Anyway, so then I watched Taxi Driver.