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Lethem on film theory

Posted at 2:09 PM on March 27, 2007 by Euan Kerr

In reading Jonathon Lethem's new novel "You Don't Love Me Yet" in preparation for his visit here next week, one section stuck out. It's part of a conversation about how to judge things by seemingly minor elements, which are in fact the determining factor.

Here's the selection:

"I like this theory," said Falmouth. "Let me try. The quality of a restaurant meal, by the appetizers. Of a film by it's subplot."

"By the minor characters, I'd think," said Matthew.

"Bedwin went to film school," said Denise. "What is it, Bedwin, subplot or minor characters?"

He thought it over. "I had a professor who used to say that every movie had one actor you wished the whole movie was about. In a bad one you might only see them for a minute, they'd be playing a bellhop or something. In a pretty good movie they'd have a supporting part. In a great movie you'd have the same feeling of wishing the movie was about them and they'd turn up in every scene. Right after that whoever it was would be the star in their next movie, but they'd never be as good."

The argument proceeds in the book, but this is the section that's really thought provoking. Remind you of anyone?

How about Jack Black in "High Fidelity?" Or Alan Cumming in "Eyes Wide Shut?"

March 2007
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