I was reading some of Proust’s The Captive today, and there’s this lovely bit about the haze of impressionism glinting the everyday with the same painterly beauty as the grandest cathedrals. In a way this sentiment wafts into the world of film crit, which has yet to produce a Notre Dame and should probably give up trying. Nonetheless, certain dipshit writers fashion themselves after classicist architects, trying in vain to erect definitive statements and comprehensive assessments, and gussy up their every fetid thought with ‘professional,’ ‘journalistic’ bowties and acne-oil excesses of authoritativeness. In truth, they wind up slip ‘n sliding all over their wet-cement prose, which can only calcify into rubble.
The greatest film writers, and this has been true since the beginning of film crit history, recast their filmic subjects, already staidly illumined by the silver screen, in new lights – perhaps strobe-lit polychrome (in which the prose ecstatically dances to the film’s elusive but pulsating rhythm), candlelight flicker (the jittery scrawl of the captive observer who experiences the work in radiant flashes), or slanted sunlight (whereby all that is opaque and easily explicable – plot, theme, style – projects an elongated shadow into the critic’s subconscious that he or she then seeks to tortuously reproduce in writing). Where the average film critic simply describes what the viewer has already seen, and performs a trick akin to turning a light switch off and then on again, the masters of the form – the Farbers, the Fergusons, the Kaels, and the Sutpens – treat criticism as a chemical reaction, whereby the subatomic particles that comprise the film in question are subjectively scattered and reassembled into spell-binding streaks of linguistic lightning! Instead of ‘such and such happened’ or ‘Hawks does so and so,’ or even a matter of the how such and such happened or why Hawks does so and so…it’s really and truly a matter of such and such and so and so alchemized with the unique neural wiring of my brain into an experience never to be recaptured, only reflected in the imperfect poeticism of this ensuing scribble.
Which brings me to wigwam. Of all the film writers I have ever encountered, wigwam is by far the most honest, a creature of soul and psychosis who threads every film he watches through his clattering, fatiguing, environmentally unsound textile mill of a brain and brazenly exhibits the finished product for all the world to see. For those who know this madman, it is abundantly clear that no other human mind has been so garishly Frankenstein-style stitched together like wigwam’s: a patchwork quilt of mental disorder cradling a Gorgon’s head whose hellfire rage is interrupted only by the dopiest cornball giggles of self-lacerating humor. This otherworldly being watches lots of movies and writes a little something on just about every one of them.
Instead of faithful model-airplane reconstructions of a film’s intrinsic facts and mechanics – the stock and trade of Indiewire bottom-feeders – wigwam traffics in the extrinsic, the glare of a nearby mobile phone, the number of klonopins recently ingested, or the efficacy of his gun-range earmuffs purchased to block out the wails of nearby parasitic infants. His reviews describe not only the film in question but also the sum total of lunatic life experiences that have led him to view it. When wigwam labels something a FAVORITE or a BEST EVER, you get the sense that these superlatives connote not innate qualities or virtues but the flashpoint convergence of such intrinsic merits with the properties of wigwam’s mental state at the time he saw it – a cosmic coinciding of paroxysmal head-space with carved-in-stone cinema that dropped like manna from heaven when he needed it most.
Such cinephilic reportage is endlessly fascinating in its own right, as some kind of crazed, freakshow phenomenon or psychological case study. But, against all odds, wigwam is also a brilliant writer, a splatter-paint prose artist whose emulsions of psychotic rage or conked-out klonz-induced euphoria yield sparkling, gemstone rarities of dancelike diction, verbal verve, essayistic ecstasy! Many a time have I reached the end of an entry of wigwamwatches and thought, “if only I could write like this. Alas, I am not crazy enough.”
But be forewarned, faithful readers, if you visit wigwamwatches.blogspot.com and find nary a thing to be seen, it is because, like most testaments to the glory of God, the writings of wigwam are truly ephemeral. It is only through the goodness of monsieur wam at his most stable and least psychologically anguished that this blog is ever visible at all. I cannot count the times that I have been itching to read his crazed reviews of Monsters University or A Hard Day’s Night only to find the vault all locked up. wigwam giveth, and wigwam taketh away.
So please, dear reader, make sure to add wigwamwatches to your online bookmarks. You will not, I hope, regret it.