an excerpt from an email to filmmaker henry jaglom: new year’s day

The first film I saw was New Year’s Day (which is still my favourite, though I have only seen half!). Previously, I had always loved what I called “day in the life” films, ones that have a real message about society, human relations, and the ultimate question, that is, who are we why the hell are we here? Two of my favourites are Chicago Cab and The Same Side Of Rejection Street – which I highly recommend if you haven’t seen them already. These films being terribly hard to find, whenever I saw one it was such a novelty.

By some simple twist of fate I acquired a homemade tape which contained the last half or so of New Year’s Day. I watched it, and it blew my mind. I watch it again, exclaiming it the perfect film of that genre which I love so much. This was the start of my connection to your characters and your style of filmmaking. I knew immediately that it was almost if not entirely improvisational, and that the issues being dealt with were, if not completely sincere, were only slightly dramatised. I really felt as though I was a fly on the wall of this party – sort of an extension of your own character. I love studying people, knowing their thoughts and feelings and souls and inner beings, and as the fly on the wall I was able to do so without inhibition, without being anxious about feeling too intrusive (which I often do). At the same time, I wanted desperately to reach into the film and join the conversations, touching and being touched by the lives of these characters. Characters who were by far the deepest I have seen in any film, who rival the most complex characters of literature.

In addition, I was particularly pleased with the depth of the male characters in the films. As a recovering man-hater, I have had a hard time thinking that men are thoughtful, complex, and self-aware in real life, let alone in film. I was honestly shocked that a man directed this film, as well as pleased to see a dent put into my theory (which is not one of choice, unfortunately, but of circumstance). As I obviously do not know what goes on in conversations between men when they are alone, I love the scene between you and David Duchovny on the couch. It wowed me that even a character as sleazy as his could get that real, and although I am still rather cynical of THAT happening in real life, it has given me hope of the potential, and of the existence of such in lesser assholes. To this day it is still a scene which stands out in my mind as one of the better in cinematic history which I have seen, and I sometimes refer to it subconsciously as a way of dealing with issues with men – as a way of gaining perspective and empathy.

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