Hoffman Film Fest, Day Two

I first saw “Jack Goes Boating” in the dead of winter, when I was living alone in Erie, PA.  I wasn’t just living alone, but far, far from all my family and friends.  I lived there for two years, and for the most part, it was a very solitary existence.

Anyway, like I said, it was the dead of winter.  For some reason, this little unknown arthouse flick was playing in the “dollar” theater, the run-down piss-smelling 6-house theater that literally cost just one dollar to get into.  I’d been waiting withphoto some excitement for the directorial debut of Philip Seymour Hoffman, but I doubted I’d get to see it in Erie, where movies like that typically didn’t play.  I was taken quite aback when it showed up at the dollar theater.

I went to the latest showing possible, on a weeknight, to do my best to avoid other humans.  Frequent readers of my blog will know that I don’t shy away from discussing this aspect of my personality: I love people, but I’d rather they be somewhere else.  I’m often unhappy about this part of myself, but I’m also much happier alone.  So.  Go figure.

I ended up in the theater completely alone.  That movie theater made one dollar off that showing, not counting my enormous Coke Zero.  And the movie that unfurled before me set me ablaze, all alone in that stinky theater at 10 o’clock on a probably Tuesday in the grip of deepest winter.

It’s really just a love story.  On paper, it’s a well-told, dramatic love story about broken people getting together.  But the way Hoffman made that film grabbed something further inside me than the desire to be loved.  The way he played his character and the tone he set for the entire film spoke to me about the deep oceans we all are, the blankness I feel within myself, and the wide gulf that exists between people, even when your connection feels intense.  It spoke to my loneliness, and it made me question my self-imposed isolation, so far from those who loved me.  Although many and arrayed forces conspired to eventually get me to move to Philadelphia (closer to many loved ones but still comfortably far enough away from most of you to say, maybe next month, or if only I lived closer), it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that “Jack Goes Boating” set my mind wandering and wondering if maybe I didn’t need just a little less isolation.

As happened many times when I lived in Erie, I walked out of the movie theater that night to a desolate, nearly-empty, locked-in-ice parking lot, with nobody to talk to about the movie.  I was ok with that.  Most people don’t know how to talk about movies.  But this drive home was a little different.  For this one night, the hole inside of me bothered me.

Please watch this:

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