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The Reeler Blog

Reeler Pinch Hitter: Jeffrey Blitz, Filmmaker

Rocket Science writer-director Jeffrey Blitz arrives for his film's premiere Tuesday in New York (Photo: WireImage)

[Note: Reeler editor S.T. VanAirsdale is taking some time off, but The Reeler is in the good hands of trusted friends and colleagues. Jeffrey Blitz is the writer and director of Rocket Science, which opens Friday in New York.]

Well, that was interesting. The premiere of Rocket Science was Tuesday night at a multiplex in Union Square with a party that followed at Fig and Olive. The whole night was a mixture of great fun and perplexing family moments. Consider: My uncle patting my knee and telling me how much he loved the unpredictable ending; or my aunt taking pictures of me in front of an oversized poster for the animated Bee Movie because someone had already stolen the Rocket Science poster; or that I sat next to my mom who, after any joke landed -- even the ones about masturbation -- turned to me to squint with pride in the dark; or that an old family friend butted into an interview I was doing after the screening to say, “Hasn’t he gotten so tall?”

In the run-up to the screening, all I could think about was the pain of having to sit through the movie again. From the first public screening at Sundance, I had been looking forward to never having to see Rocket Science again. This has nothing to do with my sense of whether it’s a good film or not, of whether it’ll work for a broader audience or not. I happen to like big pieces of the film and I’m very hopeful it will find its audience. But still. No movie should be seen more than two dozen times by anyone, for any reason. I’m approaching Barry Bonds’ numbers on Rocket Science and all I could weigh in advance of the screening was whether I could endure it one more time.

As it turns out, the swell parts of the night far outshone the sweaty ache of the film itself. Really, the screening managed to feel swallowed up by terrific party that followed. The last time I felt this way was at my Bar Mitzvah when all the work of memorizing my Hebrew spiel was instantly forgotten in the hubbub of family and friends and well- wishers. My Bar Mitzvah, the Rocket Science premiere: what good rites of passage they were, though I don’t think I need another one for a good, long stretch.

Someone at the end of the party asked me whether I was right that I’d feel relieved at never having to see Rocket Science again or if I felt a kind of post-partum depression. It made me think back a few months ago when I flipped to IFC and caught the middle of Spellbound. Because I was unprepared for it, because I hadn’t seen it in so many years, I had a few minutes of watching it unfold as if it weren’t my film. I had forgotten the order of shots and scenes. I couldn’t remember exactly what each character was going to say, the cadence of the voice, the pace of the edit. It was pretty much just a movie and I was just a viewer. I only watched for a few minutes before it all started to come back to me, those old memories retrieved, and the feeling of work returned.

Maybe I’ll stumble onto Rocket Science several years from now and have a similar experience. Until then, no post-partum for me: I’m looking forward to seeing
any movie other than my own. The Bourne Ultimatum, anyone?

Posted at August 9, 2007 1:49 AM

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