WORCESTER, Mass. Mike Andruzzioni had always thought of himself as a healthy young man until he met Justine Thibodeaux, a student at Clark University in the Main South neighborhood here. “She had every thing I was looking for in a girlfriend,” he says. “Two ginormous . . .” he continues before this reporter cuts him off, citing this website’s strict family-friendly terms of service.
Mike, thinking about some movie he saw last night.
It was Thibodeaux who introduced Andruzzioni to the alleged pleasures of highbrow cinema in her role as president of her school’s Avant-Garde Film Society. “I watched this one movie and couldn’t make head or tails of it,” he says of Life in Death by Swedish director Olne Krovitz, a seven-and-a-half hour meditation on the futility of existence. “Justine’s really digging it, and I’m like–‘Wha?'”
But Thibodeaux diagnosed her boyfriend’s problem in less time than it takes to say “Ingmar Bergman” after hearing him start to snore three hours into the picture. “Mike has an incapacity for boredom,” she says. “This is common among Americans raised on bang-bang Hollywood movies,” she says. “I told him he needed to see a doctor if he wanted to save our relationship–I couldn’t do it for him.”
3 Women: “Dude–are you as high as I am?”
So Andruzzioni got a prescription under this state’s relatively new medicinal marijuana law, and is now allowed to smoke a “joint” outside the entrance to the campus theatre before joining Thibodeaux inside after stocking up on Black Crows, Tootsie Rolls and Sugar Babies at the student-run concession stand. “It’s like I’ve got a new leash on life,” he says as he makes his way down the aisle while the lights dim. “I see things I totally missed before, like the pattern in the tiles in the swimming pool in Robert Altman’s ‘3 Women.’ I can look at that for hours when I’m high.”
Les corns du pop.
Avant-garde film is not so much a genre of film as a mode of filmmaking that rigorously re-evaluates cinematic conventions and explores non-narrative forms, as well as alternatives to traditional narratives or methods of blah-blah-blah. “The avant-garde, it is never precious, it is never trite,” says Jean-Louis Duvalier, an associate editor at Cahiers du Cinema, the leading French periodical devoted to the art of film. “Your American friend cheapens the experience with his jujubes and le corns du pop, but this does not detract from the impenetrability achieved by the auteur who created le film.“
Andruzzioni admits he was a pot smoker before he met Thibodeaux, but says his enjoyment of the recreational drug has been enhanced by his exposure to subtitles and black-and-white samurai movies. “Maybe it’s the THC,” he says, referring to tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s common psychological effects, “but when I’m high, the boring turns into the fascinating.”