"The cinema substitutes for our gaze a world more in harmony with our desires." —credited to André Bazin in Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt
Bazin may or may not have actually said or written those words, but the above quote certainly explains a great deal about the universal appeal of the movies. Most of us would probably agree that, at its best, cinema can function not just as mere escapism, but also as a way of satisfying a desire to see characters or an entire world depicted on a big screen that reflects one's own yearnings. (Why, for instance, do some moviegoers sometimes find themselves half-admiring movie killers like Jef Costello, the lonely contract killer with the sharply honed senses in Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai (1967); or Jules and Vincent, the two talkative hit men in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994)? Often there's just something damn cool about them that makes you want to be like them.)
Even within that particular definition of cinema at its height, however, there is a certain category of cinema that I would like to propose—what I would call (somewhat reductively) the "cinema of the personal daydream."
What makes up a "personal daydream movie," you might ask? It is the type of movie that inspires—whether during the movie, days afterward, or both—a mood in the viewer of wanting to linger in the film's particular world for hours on end, in the same way one might desire to linger in a dream at night before having to wake up to eye-crust-ridden early-morning reality. It's the kind of movie whose mood might suddenly materialize in your mind as you sit during your lunch break at work (or, in my case, in a college classroom waiting for a lecture to start). One filmmaker's daydream, in other words, becomes your daydream. And perhaps your reaction to a filmmaker's vision reflects deep pools of yearning that the movie touches upon, whether consciously or subconsciously.