The opening.

September 13th, 2013, 11pm

I guess a lot of people don’t like me. Relationships with women, especially, are strange; they falter and slip off. Suddenly something is different and a certain kind of warmth is gone.

“What happened?” I’ll ask tentatively. Not ready to be disliked.

“You ___________,” and they pronounce, carefully, one of my reckless blind spots, in which I have been careless and thoughtless, or I’ve looked at something from the wrong angle, or I’ve become consumed with making a decision about something that is not the question being asked in the first place.

Should I do this or that, I’ll think, when the issue at hand is actually neither.

First I lost D and then N and then L.

Close and amiable friendships each, once intimate and happy, now swampy with silence and distaste. None of them speak to me much, anymore, and I wonder if they will ever forgive me. Am I the only one who does these things?

In my imagination, intimacy between women is a perfect machinery. They get coffee, they get along, and they are always thinking of each other first.

But no, this can’t be true, or half the movies I’ve seen wouldn’t exist. Nicole Holofcener wouldn’t have a career. I went to the premiere of a friend’s film last night, a brief and capable feature that received high praise from the New Yorker, about two beautiful girls who go away to Balkan music camp and immediately fall into chaos. The setting seems arbitrary — you never know why these girls are here — and I think their restless, womanish circling of each other could have been displayed as equally in the compact headquarters of a Brooklyn studio apartment that they’re forced to share above a crappy practice space. (The steady background music is a likable motif. The setting would still be engineered to provide it.)

Butter on the Latch, it’s called, in reference to a Balkan folktale: when you want somebody to come over late at night, grease the front door latch so as not to make a sound. Let them in silently; have them leave quickly.

The narrative wanders on and on, never grounded and always strange. The camera lens slips in-and-out of focus with a regularity that is like breathing. All the editing was done, in the very final hour, by my friend herself, and she cuts with quick, shameless strokes, employing a natural and uneducated skill. Scenes dissolve in mid-breath or mid-sentence, as if nothing can be completed; life is a circle relentlessly unwound. It works perfectly.

Everything is strange for the sake of strangeness, which is a bizarrely comforting affirmation of the fact that life does not make sense, ever, and that terrible things will continue to happen to good people with shocking regularity.

There are all the other thumbprints of New Independent Cinema: improvised dialogue, handheld camerawork, fleeting light, implications instead of overtures, ambiguity. What is real and what is fake? Who is an actor and who is not? Did she or did she not? Will she or won’t she?

Everything is fine until it is not.

Here’s what I would like to see in a film or on a stage: constraints. If technology and cinema have overlapped to achieve the impossible, and anything is now possible, then let us trap it back into one place again. There is a hotel room and two people on vacation, but it’s raining. They’re bored and uncomfortable. What will they talk about? Three girls are in an empty apartment. They can’t go outside for fear of something. Of what? We never know, but that singsong of paranoia is the background throwing all other issues into relief. What does jealously feel like at the end of the world? What do the petty things that once made us angry become? Laughable? Covetable? Longed for? It’d be a wonderful exercise in absurdity to decry the tourist industry in a world where it is literally impossible to leave the house. I wonder if we’d keep travel magazines, then. Pass them around in handfuls; a precious currency and the last psychological relief.

Robin, Jess, Paul, Jo and 2 others said thanks.

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Cassie Marketos

Community Manager at Hi. Traveling. Writing! Will send invites generously. Just ping @sayhi.

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