Sunday, September 17, 2006

Movie Tag

Ms. anne sent me a book tag. I decided to supplement that post with this one since I love movies so much.

Since I was a kid, I've always enjoyed movies. They were usually on TV until 10:00 pm which meant I could stay up late if I could convince Mom to let me watch the movie. I recall chaotic trips to the movies with my many cousins and uncles. We would pile into the van and spill into the theater. God knows how my uncles were able to keep track of us all. We would go to Disney movies, mostly. At home, I watched a lot of musicals (my mother's favorites) and tried to avoid horror movies. On occasion, I would be treated to a Jerry Lewis movie (I loved him when I was a kid) or a Godzilla movie.

The whole Universe opened up to me one night when my uncle took me and my cousins to a drive-in. We were watching some Disney movie, but I became transfixed by movie playing behind me. I completely ignored their comments and eventual teasing ("Why are you watching a movie you can't hear?") and just moved to the back of the car. I recall curling up in the corner and staring out the back window. It didn't matter that I couldn't hear the movie, I never wanted it to end. It was 1973 and the movie was Silent Running. I didn't see the rest of the film with the sound until a couple of years later on TV. Bruce Dern's character was odd, but the drones and his relationship with them moved me to tears.

A few years later, my movie life changed completely. It was 1977 and I went to see Star Wars for the first time (I would end up seeing it something like 35 times while it was still in the theater; I stopped counting after my 25th viewing). The theater was packed. We had to wait in a really long line. The final battle scene had me gasping because I kept holding my breath. I had never seen anything like it before (not even with Silent Running) and had never conceived that a movie could have such crowds. After that, I began to read movie reviews in the paper, to learn about directors and actors. I started the long, wonderful road of learning about film history.

I love movies. I can't say that enough. I love movies. And with that, here goes.

A movie that changed my life:
I do have a top 10 list of my all time favorite movies (which will be the subject of another post). The criteria for my top 10 is impossibly high. One of the criteria is that the movie must have changed my life or the way I view the world in some way. For this one I must list Amadeus, number one on my top 10 list and my favorite movie of all time. Most people are surprised when I tell them this is my favorite. They admit that it was a good movie, but they don't see why it's #1. Because of this movie, I became interested in classical music. Because of this movie, I took Music 101 and learned about Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss and the rest (and Mozart, of course). During that class, I learned a little of art history as well. It inspired me to take my Medieval/Renaissance art class. Because of this movie, I ran frantically through the National Gallery in London last year, marveling as I took in one perfect Renaissance masterpiece after another. Because of this movie, I still go see churches here in San Francisco because I love church architecture. That's a lot to get out of a two hour movie with some unknown actors and a bunch of powdered wigs, but that's what happened.

A movie I have seen more than once:
This one makes me laugh. If I like a movie, I'll watch it multiple times. This explains why I have quite a few DVDs in my collection. People don't understand why I watch movies over and over until I explain that watching a movie I love is like going to a favorite place to hang out for a couple of hours. I've seen many movies more than once, but the one that belongs in this category is Bringing Out the Dead, a Scorsese film starring Nicolas Cage. It's not one of Scorsese's best, I'll admit it, but right after I realized I was getting a divorce I was so distraught that I could barely function. I couldn't eat, sleep or go to work. The only thing I could do was write and watch Bringing Out the Dead. I can't tell you how many times I watched that movie in those first couple of weeks. There were a couple of days where that's all I did. As soon as it was over, I just started it up again for something like 20 hours in a row. I felt like dying and for some reason this movie made me feel like I could hang on just for a little longer.

A movie that made me laugh:
During the summer between my 7th and 8th grades in junior high school, my Dad suggested we go see a movie together. It was a hot summer night and we'd be going to the late show. After looking in the paper, we agreed upon a French film which was getting rave reviews. The film was La Cage aux Folles. First off, going to see a movie that not only featured, but was about gay men who dress in drag was completely unprecedented in my entire extended family. Second of all, it was the 10:00 pm show at a theater in Los Gatos. I was the only kid there and all the adults were staring at me. We got into the movie theater and I felt like I'd joined a secret club. It turned out I had. I never laughed so hard. What amazed me even more was that I got all the jokes. How is that possible? By the time I went back to school, I had a little notoriety attached to me since the news had spread like wildfire that I had actually seen a movie about gay men. Since everyone at school was impossibly homophobic, this made things very interesting indeed.

A movie that made me cry:
I cry easily, but I think I cried hardest during Toy Story 2 when Jessie, the Yodeling Cowgirl, sings that song about being loved by a child and then being forgotten when the child grows up and doesn't need them anymore. It made me think of my beloved stuffed animals when I packed them all away while I was moving out of my parents house.

The other movie I must mention is The Wizard of Oz. Having grown up watching it year in and year out on TV during Easter, I can safely say I know my way around this movie. As I've gotten older, however, this movie has become unwatchable for me. Even just thinking about it breaks my heart. A great, great movie. I still love those flying monkeys.

A movie that I wish had been made:
A adaptation of The Deathbird, a story by Harlan Ellison. It would never get made as it turns fundamental ideas of Christianity on its head, but it's a great story.

A movie I wish had never been made:
Pokemon: the First Movie. No, I haven't seen it, but the thought of it makes me ill.

A movie I just finished watching:
The Throne of Blood (dir. Akira Kurosawa). Kurosawa's take on Shakespeare's Macbeth is strange, haunting, spare and wonderful. Visually stunning and beautifully acted. Mifune is amazing as always, but Isuzu Yamada's version of Lady Macbeth is chilling. Her face and manner, always still and elegant, is ruin and death incarnate. A great film.

A movie I've been meaning to watch:
Well, there are a lot of them, let me tell you. Here are a few: Babette's Feast, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Once Upon a Time in the West, Crash, Das Boot, Garden State, Almost Famous and Saw 2, etc.

Thanks for reading. I've really enjoyed writing this post.

1 comment:

anne said...

Okay, I have to comment on Star Wars, because that movie brings to mind a very distinct time in my life....

1977 was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school. I was going out with a guy regularly for the first time that summer... we were very much enthralled with each other. Star Wars was playing at just one theater in Denver; only one screen in town was big enough to show it. The theater was 'way across town, and the lines were hours long to get tickets, and then it took even more time to get in to actually see the show. Because my sweetie and I both worked part-time jobs until the early evening, getting to an 8pm show was next to we found out, on at least two occasions. (For the record, we would go to Baskin Robbins for ice cream when we were thwarted yet again in our Star Wars attempt. Even today, I cannot go into a Baskin Robbins without fondly thinking of my first love!)

Finally, my guy had the brilliant idea to go down to the theater early to get tickets for a matinee show on a day we both had off. I knew nothing about the movie, other than it had a space theme, and both he and I were Star Trek fans, so it sounded like fun.

I distinctly remember two things from the movie. Sitting in the dark, hearing the theme music for the first time, as that incredibly huge freighter came up FROM BEHIND US and then OVER OUR HEADS on to the screen - I had never experienced anything like THAT before!!! The sound of the massive engines shook the theater walls - the entire audience gasped and then clapped and hollered in disbelief!

Later on in the movie, there was the first close-up of Luke Skywalker / Mark Hammill. I let out an audible "ooohhh" at his handsome looks and his huge green eyes - I was so enthralled that I forgot with whom I was watching the movie! I went to lean over to my normal movie-going girlfriend and sigh, "Isn't he the most gorgeous guy you have ever seen?" ...when I remembered that my movie date was not a girlfriend, but the guy I had been seeing for a few months... so I kept my comment to myself. To this day, I do not think I ever told him what I was really thinking at that moment.

Later my sweetheart told me that some people likened the characters in Star Wars to those in The Wizard of Oz, and I enjoyed that discussion so much. My guy was funny and smart and so cute - I could not help falling in love with him!

aaahhh, youth....