CMBA profiles one member every month. This month's interview is with Erin Graybill who blogs at Cinematic Scribblings. Erin's blog focuses on European and Japanese cinema.
What sparked your interest in classic film?
When I was about eight, I was obsessed with Shirley Temple; I can't recall how that actually started, but AMC used to air one of her movies every Sunday around 11 AM, and I would always watch them. Around that time, I was also really into Martin and Lewis movies, and I remember watching a lot of Laurel and Hardy on AMC as well. After that, I was less into classic films for a while, but at some point in my teens my family came across Bringing Up Baby on TV -- I'm sure it was TCM -- and I loved it. From there, and especially in college, where I had easy access to the library's collection, I really delved into classic films.
I noticed you have written much about Francois Truffaut. What is it about his films that attract you?
Writing about Stolen Kisses (1968), he said, "When I started making movies I had the idea that there were things that were funny and others that were sad, so I would put funny things and sad things in my films. Then I tried to switch abruptly from something sad to something comical. In the course of making Stolen Kisses I came to feel that the best of all were the kind of situations that were funny and sad at once." That appeals to me, and so does his observation that "with me, one film out of two is romantic -- the other one tries to destroy this romanticism," although I think it's more complicated than that; the romanticism and anti-romanticism often seem to coexist in his films. Also, his love of cinema is infectious.
What other directors do you admire?
Yasujirô Ozu is probably my favorite director. I also love Federico Fellini, Michael Powell (particularly his work with Emeric Pressburger), Satyajit Ray... I could go on and on, but those are the directors at the top of my list, along with Truffaut.
What film genre(s) do you favor?
I don't know that I have a particular favorite genre, to be honest. I feel like I watch dramas and comedies in equal measure, and I don't really seek out or focus on more specific genres like westerns or sci-fi or musicals, although I hope I'm open to them.
Name three films that most classic film fans love, but you hate, and if you can tell us why?
"Hate" is a very strong word, but there have certainly been times when I've been disappointed or just failed to see what the big deal was about one film or another. I remember being let down -- not as amused as I hoped to be, I guess -- by Sullivan's Travels, for which I had very high expectations; that's one I should revisit and reevaluate. Sansho the Bailiff is another example (not that I was looking to be amused there). I'm never as blown away by Mizoguchi as other people seem to be, especially by his period pieces, which seem to get most of the attention and praise. (I do like his more contemporary films, Street of Shame above all, but also Osaka Elegy and Sisters of the Gion.) Blowup comes to mind as well. It was my first Antonioni and it left me a bit cold, but several years later, once I saw more of his movies -- many of which I like a lot -- I thought that I would be able to appreciate it more, being better attuned to his style and themes and so on and not expecting a typical "Swinging London" movie (whatever that would be). It didn't work -- same reaction the second time around.
What do you find is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
I really enjoy working out my thoughts on a given film and then hearing what other people think about it, and I appreciate the sense of community among classic film bloggers.
What movies would you recommend to someone who “hates” classic films?
That probably depends on the individual person and the sorts of modern films that they enjoy. I don't know that there's a one-size-fits-all answer.
Do you have interests in any other arts that you can share?
Literature -- I love to read, and my dream is to write novels. I also enjoy going to art museums and listening to music.