I was fresh out of college. It was the second week at my new job. I was a trainee copywriter. Making money that was not of the Monopoly kind. Thinking up film ideas for herbal anti-dandruff shampoo. Carrying a proper work bag. From Hidesign no less. All around me, unshaven men (and a few women) smelling of last nights take away and copier ink churned out ideas that went up around town and won awards. I was on my best behaviour. I called everyone Sir and Ma’am. Came up with lots of non-executable ideas(‘…and then the penguin tap dances all the way home’). And generally tried not to reveal what a cultural ignoramus I was. I managed to carry on doing almost all of this throughout my entire stint at the agency. Except the last one.
It happened during a ‘brainstorming’ session in one of the fishbowls we called a meeting room. A rather wild eyed writer and art director (who I shall refer to as crazy1 and crazy2) were discussing Kurosawa. A word that I was not familiar with.
Crazy 1 Kurosawa feast last night dude. It was amaaaazing.
Crazy 2 Why didn’t you call me over asshole?
Crazy 1 Dude, I thought they gave you headaches.
Crazy 2 Only the first time. Now I’m crazy about them.
Crazy 1(turning to me) Do you like Kurosawa?
Now I had two options before me. Either I admitted I had no idea what or who Kurosawa was and make a fool of myself before my very cool peers. Or I try and bluff my way through the whole thing and make an even bigger fool of myself before my very cool peers. Guess which one I chose?
Me Oh I love Kurosawas! Especially with sake.
As you can imagine I got two very blank stares, was promptly ignored for the rest of the evening and made to fetch water. Ah the joys of being a trainee.
You can imagine how stupid I felt when I found out that Kurosawa was indeed a film maker par excellence. I promptly mugged the names of some of his movies to tide me over till I got around watching any of them.
This of course happened about five years ago. And I’m glad to say I finally got a chance to see my first Kurosawa about two weeks ago. Well, almost.
After months of being on my Screenselect list, I was finally sent The Seven Samurai. Oh the joy! My husband who expressed doubts as to how it could be better than The Magnificent Seven, was given a lecture on broadening his horizons and not being a pleb. He was then promptly tied to his chair (only for the duration of the movie, I assure you) and forced to watch the film. Well, most of it.
As the opening shots appeared, my husband’s muffled pleas (I’d had to gag him as well. Again, only for the duration of the movie) reached my ears. I took out the sock (clean) from his mouth and he begged me to press the time/text button on the remote to see how long the movie was. I obliged. Shit! Three and half hours long. Was this guy some long lost relative of K-JO? My husband's loud protests were silenced once more and we settled down to a companionable silence.
Suffering Japanese peasants, marauding bandits, out of work samurais – I was expecting all of that. I mean I had seen The Magnificent Seven. But hello? Where was Shibuya’s answer to Steve McQueen? Where was the Yul Brynner of Okinawa? I mean sure I was expecting the peasants to be bad looking – they probably had scurvy from all the rice husk they were eating. But was the samurai’s excuse? I mean Ken Watanabe must have had a great grand daddy right?
So after about forty minutes of suffering and crying (my husband, both times) we switched to a rerun of Friends. I promised to watch the rest of the movie the next day. And the next. And the next. After a week, I still couldn’t face the thought of almost three hours of strife. So I slipped the DVD back in its sleeve and returned it. What can I say? I’m a fraud.
While I’m at it, I think I should confess to my other shameful secrets. I read Mills & Boon till I was in class x and only stopped when my mother threatened to burn my library membership. I used to like Roxette. When I was 12 my room was a shrine to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I even had the sneakers. Sob). I cried when I saw Forrest Gump and Titanic. I occasionally watch Baywatch reruns. When I’m at W.H Smith I read Heat and Hello but take the New Yorker and National Geographic to the check out counter. I enjoy watching films where Kate Hudson plays a struggling singleton raising her dead sister’s children and trying hard not to fall in love with the local Pastor. I am a popular culture junkie. So shoot me. (Oh, and I think Ben Stiller is hysterical)
I’m sure I’ve fallen greatly in your esteem. All my own doing I admit. So in an attempt to raise your opinion of me by a smidgen I leave you with this. Shostakovich. (Just don’t ask me what that is. Or who. Or… ah forget it. It’s almost time for Britain’s Next Top Model)