“I can watch the world through Michelangelo Antonioni ‘s eyes forever. He is the greatest stylist of the modern era, and The Passenger may be my favorite film,” David Thomson has written in The Guardian . “It’s the one I think of offering whenever people ask that question. And they ask a lot.
“No, it’s not in my top ten, but sometimes I think [The Passenger is the one I like the best, by which I fear I mean it’s the film I’d most like to be in, instead of just watching.” Dream-projecting ourselves into films we really like is what many — most — of us do, I think, when we’re really taken by them. And when we’re watching films that we respect or admire but aren’t that into, that’s all we’re doing — watching from our side of the window. Every time I’ve re-watched any of Antonioni’s five or six greatest — La Notte, Blow-Up , L’eclisse, Il Grido, L’Avventura — I’ve felt this exact same urge to dissolve into a spectral cellluloid spirit, and disappear into the world of these films and wander around and maybe never come back. What would it be like to hang around in an Antonioni film after the movie is “over”? Mesmerizing, I would think. But what if a malicious side of this fantasy manifests? This is obviously Purple Rose of Cairo idea (and probably some Japanese horror-film director’s also), but what other films have readers wanted to literally dissolve into? The reason Mia Farrow leaves the physical realm is that she desperately wants to belong to the world of those silver-toned, champagne-sipping sophisticates in the film she’s been watching in that 1984 Woody Allen film, but what if films were to reach out and kidnap this or that audience member at random (or, better, for a reason) and suck them body-and-soul into their worlds, whether they want to be absorbed or not? Complete this sentence: ‘I can think of nothing more torturous than to be forcibly vacuumed into the realm of [the name of the film].” My Personal Worst along these lines: 20th Century Fox’s Dallas movie, with or without Jennifer Lopez in it.