Archive for October 3rd, 2004

Movies (continued from last post)

Sharon October 3rd, 2004

On movies. Several people have emailed me (believe it or not, there are actually people reading this!!! Stunning, isnt it? This claim would be more credible if I had the faintest idea how to download a hit counter, wouldn’t it? Anyone know how?) and asked me if I really hate all movies, as my profile claims. Of course I don’t, but there’s some truth to the statement. If you are movie buff, I am not a good person to go out with (as poor Eric has found to his grief). I have a semi-hostile relationship to the movies. First of all, on the rare occasions on which I actually get to leave my house, I have no profound wish to spend the time sitting in a darkened room. Much of the time in the last few years, doing so would be a recipe for unconsciousness, since neither of my first two kids slept through the night before they were a year, and Isaiah seems to share his brother’s timetable (yup, out of the last five years, I’ve been sleep deprived for more than 3 of them!)

I also resent paying $10 for anything that is of lower quality than what I get for free on television. And that isnt saying a great deal. If it is less good than a West Wing episode, I’m not going. I don’t think I’m setting the bar too high.

I also have a particular distaste for pretentious movies that pretend to plumb the psychological depths of anyone. _American Beauty_ is the perfect example of a movie most people liked that made me want to throw up. Yeah, yeah, Kevin Spacey, whatever – I liked _The Usual Suspects_ too. But long angsty movies about how alienating suburbia or the 1970s or motherhood or jet lag, etc… really annoy me. The Victorian period piece equivalent pisses me off even more. The simplistic nature of the way psychology is used in literature and film makes me nuts – the “cause – effect” theories of the human mind. You’d think I like that stuff, since I’m a lit geek and in many ways a Freudian, but what interests me about psychoanalysis is its precise failure to choose the stupid, linear way of thinking.

Some movies everyone else liked that I hated:

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – I know it was beautiful and poetic (and tedious), and the culmination of the martial arts drama (a genre I actually kind of like), but it rather went on a bit, didn’t it. Admit it, it would have been better at 45 minutes.

2. Lost in Translation – I love Bill Murray. Bill Murray is a brilliant actor. He could stand buck naked in front of a white wall and masturbate for 2 hours, and he’d be wonderful. This movie was almost as good as that. Please, someone, put Scarlett Johanson back in her bottle!

3. That stupid movie about migrating birds, set to music. Dear G-d, is there no level we won’t sink to?

I can list more, but you get the point. I’m no fun at all to go to the movies with, not least because everyone who goes with me eventually ends up agreeing with me.

But I do like some movies – movies that don’t try to be more than they can, truly good movies, movies that are generous rather than petty in spirit (they don’t take the cheap jokes, the cheap shots, the cheap sex scenes, the cheap dialogue or the obvious plot points), the occasional weird thing that I like despite the fact that it breaks all my rules. Here are some movies I like:

1. Anything by Robert Altman, except Pret A Porter. Just finally saw Gosford Park, and it was glorious. Weirdly, Popeye is a favorite movie of mine – weird and wonderful.

2. Danny Devito movies. I love how deeply he mocks the urge to moralize or psychologize. Drowning Mona was flawed, but a wonderful antidote to the tripe done in good movies. Matilda was everything Roald Dahl should be. The War of the Roses is still a favorite.

3. Farenheight 9/11. Yeah, it was filled with cheap shots, overblown and tacky. It was also strangely moving, and better than I expected it to be. Moreover, I genuinely admire Michael Moore, not something I can say about many people.

4. Chicago. Yeah, that one. Sure, it is a musical (modern musicals are generally loathsome) and has the inevitably tedious Renee Zellweger(sp?) in it, but how can you not love a movie whose essential message is, “you’ll regret heterosexual sex – go lesbian!” and still gets an Oscar? Plus, Queen Latifah is hot (Catherine Zeta-Jones doesn’t really do it for me, although I can see her appeal) and Richard Gere can both dance and sing (I had been resolutely hostile to Gere, who has never appealed to me, but I was impressed despite myself).

Mostly, I like old movies. I just watched _The Magnificent Seven_ for the thousandth time (Eric had never seen it) and I kept thinking, “Why is it we needed _Unforgiven_ again? I tend to think that the majority of films are simply pointless redundancies. And I think that about books, too. Yeah, I know that retelling stories can be cool, but it often is merely annoying.

Ok, I’ll get to books next, but I’m tired and cranky now ;-) .