April 2005

DeAnn Welker

magazine whore

The One Reason for a Magazine Subscription

Magazines are a lot like people -- each one has its own quirks and traits that make them what (or who) they are, be it endearing, loveable, annoying or intolerable. Given our differences, no two people should be treated the same; the same is true for magazines. I try to follow this philosophy when it comes to my subscriptions. There are those magazines I devour cover to cover the minute they arrive; there are those I skim and intend to read later, but never pick up again; there are those I rarely open unless the cover story is intensely appealing; and there are those that fit into any of the above categories, but which I subscribe to for just one feature/section/writer/page/reason.

I used to have two such subscriptions. I gave up on Rolling Stone when reviewer Peter Travers gifted Vanilla Sky with a glowing review. Now I have one: Interview, formerly Andy Warhol’s Interview.

Don’t get me wrong, I like many things about Interview. I like the interviews. I like the photography. I like the concept (celebrities interviewing celebrities) even if it does come off as pretentious much of the time.

But there is only one thing I consistently love (I’m talking Love with a capital L) about Interview. There is one reason I wouldn’t dream of letting my subscription lapse. There is one reason I have even considered ordering those overpriced back issues: Graham Fuller’s movie column, “Shots in the Dark.”

Fuller is the type of person who makes me feel smarter just by reading what he has to say. He describes film and characters using phrases such as “did its best to chip at the monolith” (in a column about Midnight Cowboy, October 2004) and “experts in romantic anguish” (Birth, Dec/Jan 2005). He comes up with metaphors that are equal parts mind-blowing and completely sensible. He says Tom Stoppard’s 2001 film Enigma “turns the screw on rash WWII romance -- and then unturns it” (May 2002). He references Poe (March 2004). And he notes, in passing, that his favorite film is 1944’s A Canterbury Tale (May 2002).

But what I really love about Fuller is that, despite being a film genius and a brilliant writer, he doesn’t talk down to the readers. He welcomes us into his world and pretends we actually belong there with him. (Trust me: We don’t.)

Fuller never panders to the masses -- even when Interview does. He often disagrees with the more mainstream “critics” -- refreshing in a day when even the best critics have forgotten what that word means. He tends to focus on the indie. He doesn’t seem to care what’s been labeled “cool” or “in” or even “important,” though he will occasionally knock those things right off of their pedestals. (In March 2004, he explains why Lars von Trier is more effective than two box-office hits: “…when it comes to provoking audiences to think beyond prescribed notions of good and evil… it’s more serviceable to torture a beautiful woman than a Christlike male, be he a hobbit or Christ himself.”)

Even if you don’t always agree with him (and you won’t), you have to respect Fuller for his originality in a world -- and even a magazine -- that more than dabbles in the status quo. Graham Fuller is part hero, part critic, part fanatic. He makes Interview a better magazine.