Friday, May 02, 2008

Cineplex of my Dreams vs My Theater of Doom

So I've been published in a real paper made from trees magazine which for reasons that make no logical sense really excites me. I, along with several other area film aficionados, was asked by Tacoma City Arts magazine to list the 10 films that would be playing non-stop in "The Cineplex of My Dreams." The list appears in the May/June 2008 issue of City Arts, available for free at most happening places near you, provided you are in Tacoma.

It was a hard question to answer, and I did come up with my list, along with pithy explanations for why I chose each one. Of course, my pithy explanations were then edited to the point of anorexia, more pi- than pithy. This is understandable. They had to fit the ramblings of six film geeks into a two page article. But the diva in me was still pained, especially when I saw all the other people's lists.

My list, which I will share with you in a moment, including all the pith, was, how you say, a bit more pedestrian than the other lists. For example, I had no films representing the French Dada-ist movement on my list. In fact, I didn't have any French films on my list, although there are certainly French films that I have loved. In fact, here they are: Amelie, Ponette, The Girl on the Bridge, Queen Margot, The Triplets of Belville and The Professional, which I suppose technically is an American film, but it feels French. I also really love the movie French Kiss, which takes place almost entirely in France, but I doubt the French would wish to claim it.

But, when I was trying to imagine 10 movies that captured the movie going experience for me, ones I'd like to see over and over (ones I have seen over and over), none of these came to mind. Neither did anything by Fellini, Sergio Leone or Ingmar Bergman. Yes, I admit it. I like popular movies. Black and white movies where Europeans stare meaningfully at each other over Scandinavian fens or cafe tables make my butt itch. (Ou est le cafe? Je ne sais pas ou est le cafe. Oui, je sais. Oui, je sais tout. Fin) Movies where everyone dies at the end may make me cry and think when I see them, but they don't generally make me want to see them twice.

So, my name is Kati and I like popular movies. I appreciate and admire and respect all kinds of film, including those of the French Dada-ist movement, but if you're coming to my house to watch movies chances are you're going to see one of the following:

Truly Madly Deeply – an early film of the recently departed Anthony Minghella. Nina cannot get beyond the tragic sudden death of her love Jamie, until Jamie, and a crowd of his hapless ghost friends, suddenly show up at her flat. A profound, funny and moving look at love. The final scene makes me cry every time.

Bells Are Ringing – Judy Holliday was one of the great comic actresses of all time, taken from us far too soon. This is her final movie, a musical with Dean Martin, about a shy operator at an answering service who has a bad habit of getting too involved in the lives of her clients. Classic comedy. Classic music. Classic clothes. Classic everything.

Bourne Identity – Although the next two installments built well on the series, nothing beats the sheer raw intensity of the first installment. From the moment we spot that blinking light floating in the water to the final scene sweeping over the Corfu coast, your heart is in your throat. No matter how many times I see it, I can’t turn away.

Soapdish - A hysterical ensemble comedy about a network soap opera starring Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Downey Jr. and a cast of thousands. I could quote zingers from this movie all day long, except no one would know what I was talking about. Everyone needs to watch this, so I can begin using “I’m working on my one man Hamlet” in regular conversation.

Matrix - If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we must consider every action/sci fi/kung-fu flick since 1999 a pale but flattering imitation of the Matrix's eye popping wire work, slo-mo, 360 degree, seamless special effects vision. The first time I saw it, I felt like a kid, transported to the best adventure ride ever and, when it came to an end, I felt like kicking my heels against the seat and shouting "Again! Again!"

Jungle Book (Disney) - If I had to live with only one Disney for all time, it would have to be The Jungle Book, cuz it's the king of the swingers, yo, the jungle VIP! Plus, it has the most fearsome Disney baddy ever in Shere Khan. Jeremy Irons' Scar in The Lion King was just a pale imitation of George Saunder's Khan. I could just listen to that creepy, scary voice all day.

Sense and Sensibility - If you take my favorite author, Jane Austin, combine her with my hero Emma Thompson and one of the world's greatest directors, Ang Lee, you get possibly the best Austin film adaptation of all time. The film captures not just the humor and romance of Austin, but the fear and dangerous undercurrents of what is arguably Austin's darkest work. I can't really be rational about how much I love this movie.

Monsoon Wedding - It wasn't so long ago that the average American had no idea what a "Bollywood" might be, but thank Mira Nair for bringing the colorful, joyful, musical world of Indian cinema to us in Monsoon Wedding. It's a rich, beautiful, complicated story about love and families and marigolds. Who knows how many Indian theme weddings this film has inspired!

Brick - Rian Johnson directed this fantastic modern film noir about Brendon, a high school student played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, trying to find answers about the mysterious death of his ex-girlfriend Emily. Brick has all the ingredients of a great noir: a damsel in distress, a reticent loner hero, crooked or indifferent authority figures, a tangled web of drugs and betrayal, a mysterious evil kingpin and a sultry brunette femme fatale. This movie is everything that is great about independent film making.

The Third Man - One modern film noir demands a great classic film noir, and The Third Man has to be it. Roger Ebert called The Third Man "like the exhausted aftermath of Casablanca". Awesome movie, with the most terrifying Ferris wheel scene in motion picture history.

After working on this list, and then reading the lists of the other Tacoma cineasts, I started to get an image of the opposite of The Cineplex of My Dreams. A movie theater showing nothing but my least favorite films, over and over again; My Theater of Doom. What a person hates probably tells as much if not more about them than what they love. And since every title I would list as a movie I hate is likely on someone else's list of Most Totally Awesome Films of All Time, I certainly risk alienating my audience here, all three of you.

But there's comfort, too, in admitting what you don't enjoy, like that Thanksgiving that I finally admitted whole family that look, I just don't like sweet potatoes ok? I don't like them with marshmallows. I don't like them with onions. I don't like them better if you call them yams. I just don't like them. Yes, some may think I'm a freak, but no one offers me sweet potatoes any more.

This list does not include those movies that are so bad they're great. That's another list entirely. These are movies that stole hours away from my life that I will never, ever get back and I deeply, deeply resent it. So here it is, My Theater of Doom:

The Wizard of Oz - I have a complicated history with this movie. My first memory of The Wizard of Oz is being removed from a theater screaming my head off after seeing the flying monkies. Next up, we have a junior high production of The Wizard of Oz, for which I audition. The script has Auntie Em and The Witch cast as the same person, but the teachers casting the play split up the role, asking me and my BFF Aditi to share it. Our friendship was not strong enough to withstand the horrible jealousy (almost entirely on my part, since she was clearly intended to have to cooler role of the witch) that ensued. Long story short, I have absolutely no fond childhood memories of this story, and monkeys were NOT intended to fly.

Muriel's Wedding - So many people told me how cute and sweet and wonderful and fabulous Muriel's Wedding was that I was completely caught off guard by how much I hated it. H-A-T-E-D it. It managed to depress and infuriate me at the same time. I left the theater feeling abused. If I could, I would get a restraining order against this movie, and NO, I do NOT wish to see the touring stage production.

City of Angels - Hopefully there's a special place in hell for people who take great movies created by film geniuses and remake them as Hollywood schlock. Hopefully the director of City of Angels will go there. My sister and I call this film Stalked by an Angel.

The Piano - Aside from the lush cinematic beauty of this film, personally, I did not care for any of the characters in this film, which made it difficult to care about who was playing whose piano. Plus, three words: Harvey Keitel's ass.

Dances With Wolves - Let me make it clear that my hatred of this movie began long before it beat GoodFellas in the Oscar race for Best Picture. My hatred began about oh, I dunno, five hours into the movie, or about one third of the way through, whichever comes first, when they shot his dog and I, in response to this, began to laugh.

Now, I love dogs and frankly up until this point, the dog had been my favorite character. I don't like it when dogs come to harm, real or imaginary, and I certainly don't think it's funny, but in this movie, it was just too much. Gee, do you think the people who are after Kevin Costner are BAD? I dunno, let's see, stole his horse (check), burned his house down (check), stole his woman (check). Hmm, that's purdy bad, but I dunno. Oh wait, they SHOT HIS DOG you say? Oh my, they are bad.

Dances With Wolves actually wins the coveted Golden Bear Trap award, which is given to any movie that is so hard to sit through, I'd chew my paw off if it meant escape.

This feels like a really short list, as if there must be other films out there that I well and truly hated, but perhaps I've just repressed them all.


DawnP said...

Awwwww... The Piano is on my top 10 list!! You didn't think there was something just incredibly sexual/sensual about Harvey Keitel?? -sigh- And The Wizard of Oz?! Long before there was video and dvd, I would wait expectantly every year for this movie to air on tv and just be RIVETED! Pooh to you and your flying monkey fear! ;)

Kati said...

Yes, I know. It's totally irrational. But I must be true to myself! No more pretending I'm inspired by the yellow brick road. That ends here! :)

Lopez Kilpatrick said...

I like your list. Many of them I have seen, and all of those I liked. My list is different of course, but no french movies anywhere. I have some oddball movies I like, but not dark movies.

the random movie I most enjoy is sneakers. I would have Sneakers and Mash the movie in my list.

Thanks for representing people who want to enjoy our movies in the your reviews!