He came to the Angelika Film Center. He saw all of his films in reverse chronological order. He conquered a three-day movie marathon few would seriously consider.
Things started off rough with Man Down.
“When it first came in, Man Down is a movie that hasn’t been released yet, we just showed it at two film festivals, and no one was watching the movie. Everyone who came into the theater sat down and stared at me. And I felt it. And then they left with-in ten minutes, because they expected me to do some high wire act. That’s not what we were there to do.”
Lawless was a turning point.
“I think it started after Lawless. When the movies started getting shit. I’m telling you. When the movies started getting shit and they knew that I felt it too, it was the shared secret that we all had…not just because I’m in it…I’m in the same boat as you, I’m a viewer in this and this is hard for me to watch too. In fact, I’m gonna go take a nap ‘cause I hate myself, not ‘cause I’m tired, but because I’m dying right now. And nobody had a problem with that….after Lawless, the movies got harder but the experience got easier.”
Watching Transformers 2 was just as painful as it looked.
“When I woke up an hour later and watched Transformers 2 they could feel when I sunk in my seat. That’s not a performative thing. That’s me going through some kind of crisis. And I’m not the only one. I remember right before I fell asleep I looked next to me and the guy next to me was falling asleep. You can see it on the screenshot we’re both asleep. And the guy behind us is asleep.”
Shia felt most connected to the crowd during Even Stevens.
“Yes it’s a film festival where you’re watching all of my movies, but a lot of this stuff—especially Even Stevens…the Even Stevens Movie was interesting, it’s all of our childhood. It’s mine and it’s yours. It wasn’t just me smiling like that. If you look at the freeze frames, everyone is smiling like wow, I remember Beans. I remember that stupid-ass song. We were all looking at our yearbook together and we’re all in the yearbook. It felt like family, we were sitting there like a high school class.”
It wasn’t Shia who ordered the pizza.
Some girls called in an order, a medium from Dominoes with pepperoni and jalapeno. They called the theater to tell them it was intended for Shia.
“That pizza went around the room. It was the first time I had really looked at people. I remember saying, ‘Hey man, you want pizza?’ and they looked at me like, ‘Holy shit. Yeah I want pizza.’ And they took the pizza and everybody started sharing pizza around the room and we were all sitting there eating pizza that these girls had ordered, we don’t know nothing about the girls who ordered it, everyone was enjoying a meal together. There was a point where I remember eating the pizza and this guy in the back got the pizza and he was like, ‘Fuck yeah! Pizza!’ Everybody giggled. It was humanizing for me.”
Shia wasn’t sweating the rulebreakers.
“There was one point where someone came up and took a selfie. And this woman said, ‘Hey you can’t do that it’s against the rules.’ And everybody thought I wasn’t talking. But I said, ‘There are no rules in here.’ it was important that we didn’t set limitations, like you come in for ten minutes so everybody can get a shot at it. It wasn’t that. We picked the smallest theater in that entire space for a very specific reason. it wasn’t to create a line outside like some nightclub. Keep people out so you can publicize, ‘Wow this thing.’ We were already publicized. And the theater stayed packed the entire time. The fact that it was so small, you’re feeling people’s arms. You’re feeling people brush your head as they move past you.”
Shia expected us to be real dicks about this.
“Everyone in that theater could throw popcorn at me…I always go into these things every time—and this is my self-hate at work—what if they light my hair on fire? And Luke’s like, “Nobody is going to light your hair on fire.” But this is a genuine fear of mine. I think people hate me. That’s just what goes on in my head. And all I want to do is be liked. Men, women, people don’t really want a lot. A person to talk to, and not have problems with nobody, I think it gets really simple when you get to the bottom of it. For an actor, for a fireman, it don’t matter, you just want to be liked. You don’t even necessarily want to be liked or loved. You just don’t want anyone to hate you.”
This wasn’t about “art shit waffle talk”.
“When you sit with an interviewer and they want to do the art waffle to justify their existence, then you gotta play the game…But when you’re sitting in the theater and a person leaves and the crowd cheers, or when I get up to go take a piss and they’re cheering, and you know that the cheer is about the person who’s next in line, they’re not cheering for themselves 40-people back, they’re cheering for the guy they know they’ve been sitting with in line for seven hours and they’re watching his face as he smiles down the stairs. That’s the art. That’s the reason we did the project.”
Celebrities were turned away from the line.
“It would be cool as fuck to have Kid Cudi sitting in your movie theater. He’s Kid Cudi, I like his stuff, but none of that shit was about me when we were in there. I’m there and I’m in it, but that would change the whole environment, and then the show becomes about something totally different. In that room it was egalitarian. Yes, I was being stared at and I’m the focal point and the pointing is happening, but the pointing is happening for me too. If we’re all pointing, then we’re on the same level.”
It meant a lot to him that NewHive was involved.
“When I looked at the [event] poster, not even the site, but the poster and saw NewHive was right there I was just like wow this shit’s official. I have respect for a lot of the NewHive artists. I go to NewHive, I like their work.”
He had a geek out moment you may have missed.
“My favorite digital artist is on your guys’ site and she showed up at our show. And I was trying to kill my fanboy but I was like wow this is fucking huge. May [Waver] is my favorite digital artist. Period. She’s affected me more than any of this other arty shit I’ve seen. I listen to her Lullabies on my own time, not for a show-off, not for a diatribe, learning art, none of that. I listen to her because I like listening to her work and watching it. It’s peaceful, like some kind of meditation. So when she’s at the show it just felt like fuck this is crazy. And I walked back into the theater like, ‘You’re a part of this…you’re part of this club that you’ve always wanted to be a part of.’…Me just trying to intellectualize it now, I don’t have the words. My feelings, though, didn’t lie to me.”
#ALLMYMOVIES has changed his Starbucks routine.
“I used to order my coffee and when they’d say, “Hey what’s your name?” I’d say James, because I didn’t want them to say my name…I would never claim my name. And today it’s just something different, it’s as simple as that. And it’s not through thought it’s just ‘that’s me’ and I’m cool with that. It’s the first time really in my life, before the other shows, because all of the other shows never changed my coffee order name. This shit changed my coffee order name, which in turn, changed my sense of self.”
It’s made him more comfortable in his own skin.
“I walked out loving myself. Not in some grandiose, you’re fucking awesome way, but in like, you’re a part of a community. You’re a part of this human thing. You’re in this human thing. I’ve always felt as though, ‘I’m just an animal in this human thing. And I’ll play the human game. I’ll wear the human mask.’ But coming out of there, it’s the first time I’ve actually felt part of this —it was very humanizing for me. I walked out loving myself. And I don’t think I was the only one to feel that.”