The subtitle to Silver Screen Fiend is “Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film”, and it has more truth to it than the actual title of “Silver Screen Fiend.” Make no mistake, Patton Oswalt deserves the label — he is an unabashed movie hound and film freak — but to think this little memoir of cinema obsession is just a celebrity rattling off a list of his top picks you would be missing the much bigger and more important aspect of the book.
Comedy as Art
Oswalt spent years working as a stand-up comedian, eventually landing a job writing for MADtv. His success could be traced back to several moments in his life he termed “Night Cafes” — a reference to the first from-memory work done by Vincent Van Gogh.
A “Night Cafe” is “the room you enter, and then leave having been forever changed” – those moments you feel yourself grow as an artist, some pleasant, some frightening and intense, others soul-crushing. All gave Oswalt something that allowed him to continue with determination his quest to become a great film director.
Cinema as Smack
Oswalt’s girlfriend left him after the first film in a double-feature; he stayed to catch the second. That’s dedication to the craft of filmmaking, right?
But wait…Patton Oswalt hasn’t directed any films, has he?
Art as Life
As a fellow sprocket-fiend I can empathize with Oswalt’s desire to seek out certain rare, unusual, or just plain classic films (See his Psychotronic Encyclopedia and Cult Movie guide.) When you’re young it’s okay to spend a lot of time learning who you are by taking in all sorts of different stimuli — films in this case. But at some point we need to go out and practice the things we have been learning while sitting in the dark.
Being from the generation that grew up on the original trilogy, it’s somewhat sad and fitting that Oswalt cites The Phantom Menace as being the film that broke his addiction. Oswalt spent three hours tearing the film apart with a group of friends after seeing it twice in the theater, but despite all his ranting there was one thing that stuck with him — George Lucas had directed a movie, Oswalt hadn’t.
Maybe this memoir is simply Patton Oswalt’s way of assuaging his own guilt for not having directed the modern American masterpiece, but I’d like to think in a few years time I’ll be able to walk up to the New Beverly – his long time home away from home- and see on the screen: Directed by Patton Oswalt
The Star Wars Filibuster, animated, as seen on Nerdist. This is why we’re all pulling for Patton Oswalt the Filmmaker.