Nobody Knows Anything

            When I was a kid I was going through the channels and found The Departed, on HBO. I had no idea what the movie was, and actually mixed it up with another Matt Damon movie called The Hereafterin which he plays some kind of reluctant medium. I’ve never seen The Hereafter, but that day I did click on HBO and start watching The Departed.

I started the movie with the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio is sitting alone at a bar and Jack Nicholson comes and sits next to him. That probably should have meant something to me, but at that time I didn’t know who either of those people were or what in the hell they were talking about, but I kept watching.

Nicholson’s character gets up and makes Leo follow him to a separate room, so a character named Mr. French can search him for “contra-fucking-band”. My 10-year-old eyes were glued to the screen, as Nicholson and DiCaprio carried on a very strange back and forth about DiCaprio’s father and honesty, none of which I could really understand at the time. Then Nicholson looks to Mr. French and says “Arm,” and at that moment I realized DiCaprio was wearing a cast. Even as a 10-year-old I knew this could only end badly. Nicholson didn’t seem very agreeable. But I couldn’t even think about turning off the TV or changing the channel.

Mr. French walks DiCaprio over to a nearby pool table and gives his arm a quick look, and then… BANG! He slammed Leo’s arm right on the table. And then he did it again and again, until the cast was off the arm, shattered. After a few seconds I started to breathe again. Nicholson begins talking and I kept watching because, how couldn’t I? But Nicholson is still looming, and DiCaprio’s arm is still stretched across the table. Finally, out of nowhere, Mick Jagger screams on the soundtrack at the top of his lungs and BANG! Nicholson starts hitting the arm with a Timberland boot. The whole time DiCaprio is squirming and shouting as Nicholson screams things at him. “Are you still a cop?” “SWEAR ON YOUR MOTHER’S GRAVE, YOU’RE STILL NOT A COP?”

After all of that, Nicholson finally decides he’s had enough and drops the boot. Nicholson takes out his wallet and apologizes, tossing a few dollar bills on the pool table before walking away. And as a 10-year-old, I had only one thought: that’s the coolest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.

Now, given distance, that’s probably a little embarrassing (even if I do stand by it), but I can always remember that as the moment I realized that I loved movies. In the intervening years, I’ve spent most of my time watching movies, talking about movies, thinking about movies. As I reach this transitional point in my life and begin searching for a job or a future, movies are the one thing I have always come back to, and after years harboring my thoughts to myself only to bore my family or drunkenly ramble to my friends, I’ve decided that my thoughts might have enough value to share.

Throughout my life, I’ve always written, and throughout my life, I’ve always thought being a writer was arrogant. Writing was a way of expressing to other people that you think your opinion is more important than there’s. That changed when I decided to start writing about movies. Whether it was screenplays or reviews for my college paper or papers I’d written for class, I always had a sense of calm whenever I was in those confines. I couldn’t figure out any reason for that. I’ve never held a camera. I’ve been on a set once. I don’t know anyone in the movie industry. I haven’t seen every movie that I’m supposed to. I don’t really know anything.

I was reading William Goldman’s book, Adventures in the Screen Trade, a few years ago when I finally figured it out. “Nobody knows anything.” Goldman might be the greatest screenwriter who ever lived, and the book was a history of the first half of his career. And here he admits that no one in his industry knows anything about why a movie succeeds or fails. Nobody knows what is going to work. The best we can hope for is a guess.

That is what this website is: a collection of my best guesses. A collection of my opinions, my rants, my thoughts, my successes, and my failures. Every time I sit down to watch a movie, I want to have that same feeling I had seeing The Departedway too young, and this space is where I can log those moments. Sure, I don’t really know enough about film to be an expert on Hollywood. But no one else does either, and they all write and host fucking podcasts. Why can’t I?


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