Saturday, August 9, 2008

The X-Factor

For those who don’t know me personally, my occasional references to Katie might be somewhat mysterious. She's sort of the shadow organization behind the Film Walrus and also my live-in girlfriend of five years. She’s had to put up with my considerable appetite for films, not always ones she was particularly interested in.

Our relationship has weathered the usual tests and trials, like surviving the original 1972 “Solyaris” as a date movie (there were exactly three other people in the audience), a failed Friday night party with her five college roommates in which I showed “Weekend,” and a very uncomfortable midnight screening of “Cannibal Holocaust.” We’ve influenced each other’s taste in films so much that these days we often become absorbed in little movie-reference bubbles that leave outsiders baffled and annoyed.

We don’t always agree about every film, but having someone on hand to discuss films with has really helped me come to understand and appreciate films on a deeper level. And honestly, she’s much better then I am at remembering where we last saw a recognizable face. Katie’s been a key source of support for the Film Walrus, even when it means I’m typing away at the computer during the precious hours when we’re both home. She also runs her own blog, Pwning Adulthood, and you may see her helping out with a new series around here.

Anyway, the reason I mention Katie today is because I want to discuss "the x-factor." The x-factor is one Katie’s nicknames, owing to her selection of pseudo-random movies for us to watch. She's often forgotten what the film is about by the time it arrives in our DVD player so we don't have any particular expectations. My own film diet is pretty strictly controlled with films culled from several thousand I’ve become interested in through recommendations and research. We started referring to Katie as the x-factor when I awoke to the importance of introducing a less-regimented, more-random element into my movie watching.

For other people, their x-factor might be the schedule programmers at TCM or a local repertory theater. It might be randomly selecting DVDs when you’re in a hurry at Blockbuster or blindly taking recommendations from an eccentric blogger. For many, like myself, the x-factor is a person whose taste is different from their own, but still trustworthy or intriguing. The x-factor keeps you from getting in a rut, playing it safe, sticking to what you know, etc.

I don’t always like the movies Katie picks out (nor does she), but it does expand my horizons and provide an opportunity for us to share our time and our thoughts. Besides, with all the silent Soviet cinema, grueling European art films and crummy cult fodder I put her through, watching a few of her choices is the least I can do.


Nathaniel C. S. said...

I think this is a salient point: in trying to truly discover film (or anything for that matter) the value of varied perspective (and outsider angles) can not be exaggerated - it is simply too important. In my own journey, the largest X-Factor I have ever come across is the flood of information that is the film-blogging world; it has been an invaluable tool in my own search. Unfortunately, I do not have a living and animate proximity (as many of us might find)... I'm around all sorts of people with an interest in film, but, I almost always feel as if I'm stuck as their one-way "X-Factor." So, this is me being envious.


FilmWalrus said...

I think it's a safe bet to say passionate people attract each other and people with shared passions eventually find each other. Basically, keep your eyes open at film clubs and movie screenings and you'll eventually meet an x-factor or two (and hopefully one with two x chromosomes, though they are somewhat rare).

You're right that the blogosphere is a great way of widening horizons. Now that you've got your own blog rolling, you're bound to have x-factors that just come to you.

For instance, your comment led me to your blog (from which I anticipate great things, btw) and to Kael's lecture (I'm listening to it now). Now that's a happy random event as far as I'm concerned. Thanks!

Elaine said...

This entry makes me smile.

It also makes me miss you guys. Are you going to be busy in December?

FilmWalrus said...

We miss you, Elaine!

We usually celebrate Christmas around December, but other than that I think we may be free. I might take a week off to go home (Kansas) or we might go somewhere to hang out with friends (like New York City or Elainesville). What are you up to?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the begrudging compliments. I suppose that I may state at that juncture that it is probable that you may, in fact, be a cutie pie.

I still think Chalk was a pretty good one, and Colma: The Musical gets points for "Colma Stays" and "Crash the Party"

I am excited to eventually write the tiny and opinion-free feature to chronicle the hurricane of films that go by, most of which do not get the full Film Walrus treatment.


Mad Dog said...

My own X factor has basically been you, Netflix and an entertaining little movie podcast called Scene Unseen. Netflix actually pointed me towards something pretty interesting the other day: Brothers of the Head. It's a faux documentary about a pair of conjoined twins that start up a proto-punk band and may or may not be influenced by a sinister "fetus in fetu." Surprisingly solid.