Unwatched and Falling
By Andy Myles
“Philip Seymour Hoffman died two years ago,” I tell my friend over the phone.
He looks it up. Hoffman died seven years ago, in 2014. In Synecdoche, New York, Hoffman’s character screams that his daughter “is a four-year-old” when in fact she is eleven.
“Seven years! You made a similar mistake,” says my friend.
I pivot: “Have you seen the one where this guy moves across the country with all these DVDs, but he doesn’t even watch movies? On the first night in his new apartment, he’s falling asleep on the couch, but he forgot to use drywall screws, so the wall-mounted cabinet with all the unwatched DVDs falls on him, taking his life?”
“It’s kind of like A Christmas Carol?”
“Yeah, he becomes a ghost and is visited by the ghost of movies past. He’s taken back to the basement where he sees himself at age five watching This is Spinal Tap. At school, he tries to re-enact the bit about the shape of the salami sandwiches, but he doesn’t really understand the joke himself, so he ends up just mashing his own sandwich into the popular kid’s Ziplock. His parents have to pick him up, and he’s uninvited from the birthday party.
Next, the ghost of movies present takes him to his aging father, who is being adorned by Guinness World Records for having watched literally all the shitty action films you can torrent off an Android box. After receiving the medal, his father excuses himself, muttering about how his son would never let him recount any of the shitty premises.
Finally, the ghost of movies future takes the protagonist to a cemetery, where a crowd surrounds an open grave. At the podium, a personal confessor, having obtained the protagonist’s notebooks and computers, announces that the protagonist never, not once saw any of the following films: ‘Citizen Kane, Do The Right Thing, Dog Day Afternoon, [redacted], Mission Impossible I-II, Notorious, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Third Man, The Fast and the Furious 2, 3, 4, 6, 7; Nostalghia, Terminator II, Casablanca, Floating Weeds. . . ’ The confessor tries to keep reading but is drowned out by the boos and jeers of enraged friends and family. The protagonist tries to interject, saying which films he watched in part, or why he couldn’t finish certain ones, but only the ghost can hear him, and the ghost sneers, too. Everybody gets up to leave. The fruit punch is toppled, people take back their flowers.”
“I’m not watching this,” my friend says.
“The ghosts offer him a deal: he can come back, but he has to connect to Letterboxd via Facebook and start watching the movies on the shelf. He also has to reinstall the shelf with drywall screws.”
“Does he do it?”
“I don’t know, I fell asleep.”