Friday, April 25, 2008

Craptaculous Film Adventures

Movies You Aren’t “Supposed” to Like

Now some people like only those movies which everyone else hesitates to cop to liking. I’m not really talking to you here. I can be a bit of a film snob at times, but I’m a film snob with a weakness for kitsch and kickass CGI. It’s terrible, I know. I’m going to tell you about this forbidden love and then I’ll go wash my mind out with soap.

You know what I’m talking about if you’re a midlevel film buff. You can quote The Godfather. You loved The City of Lost Children. You’ve had a conversation about Meryl Streep in Out of Africa that segued into an animated argument about Charlie Kaufman. You have passionate opinions about Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner being remade in the 21st century as a comedy. Not exactly a film scholar, but reasonably knowledgeable about film... just enough that you know which movies you are not supposed to love. Or even admit to having watched. Especially not more than once.

Now some films that aren’t so classy or brilliant totally escape this category. Like films that you grew attached to during your formative years (Grease, Fame) and Cult classics (Rocky Horror, Monty Python and the Holy Grail). A lot of films escape the stigma on sheer cool factor or having a respected director attached who makes the film more acceptable on the whole (Although some directors come into or out of style over time in an odd fashion. Case in point: when Army of Darkness was released, I was crazy for loving it - but NOW it’s cool to have a long standing love of Sam Rami. Whatever.). So, not those films.

I’m talking about the kitschy cheesefests and the unlikely shoot-em-ups that you rightfully ask aloud, “How did this film even get made?” And yet, you love it. You might be one of only a few dozen people who know it’s kind of awful but love it anyway (there are always the people who just don’t know it’s awful), but for whatever reason - it works for you, it makes you laugh, it allows you to check your brain at the door, something about it makes you happy. We need those movies. I respect and understand it when a friend tells me, “Ok. Don’t laugh, but you know what movie I love?”

And naturally I have my own list of the movies. But you know what movie I’ve been thinking about lately that I LOVE and know without question is B-A-D?

Who’s That Girl. That’s right. Madonna doing her best Betty Boop impersonation at the height of her Marilyn meets Sid Viscious phase. Refusing to act her way out of a paper bag. Back when she was still sporting those thick, dark eyebrows which I actually loved on her. In an impossibly illogical modern fairy tale about a sucessful executive with a huge stick up his butt abondoning his stuffy life and future wife for a cleptomaniac convict with a penchant for black lace. It’s SUPPOSED to be an update of Bringing Up Baby which we won’t even go into because that’s such an insult to Hepburn and Grant. But I love it anyway.

Griffin Dunne makes completely absurd choices that no man in his position would ever make, but he’s adorable and confused and you’re all like, “Well, OBVIOUSLY she has addled his brain with the oozing sex and all.” They pick up a Pategonian Felis (Puma or Mountain Lion... and not a correct scientific name from what I can glean on the interweb) which Madonna erroniously refers to as a tiger thruought the film. She names it Murray (great name) and it naturally becomes her pet pussycat and does whatever she says just because. She drags Dunne into a bad part of town to buy illegal guns and does the whole cutesy newsboy-capped-head popping out of a dumpster shot. Dunne’s bride to be has a hilarious subplot going on in which she is diddling everyone in NYC, with a particular penchant for taxi drivers who turn up all over saying, “I had her in my cab.” and then laughing in an uber creepy way. Madonna sports the most godawful fake Brooklyn accent ever captured on film. They spend 90% of the film being chased by thugs all over New York. The dialog is completely silly but my sister and I used to quote it to each other in tones of hysterical glee.

It’s awful. So awful, it’s kind of awesome.

Other craptastical films I love: Earth Girls are Easy (yes, I said it. I’m not taking it back), SING, The Craft, Cutting Class, Time Trackers (MASSIVE crush on Alex Hyde-White as Edgar of Mansfield), The Long Kiss Goodnight, Deep Blue Sea, Bloodsport, The Phantom (really mostly just for the fact that Billy Zane wears a purple bodysuit), Shock Treatment and (of course) Desperately Seeking Susan...

Well, those are the titles I can think of off the top of my head. There. I've confessed. May the person who has not loved a thoroughly atrocious film at some point in his or her life hurl the first stone.

Yeah. That's what I thought.


I apologize for my prolonged absence! I will be back on here with greater frequency very very soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ben Lee

More cheerful music goodness. Mostly because I don't have anything to post about. And because he was on Leno (I'm a Dave girl, myself) and I was flipping past and heard this song and was transfixed. Maybe it's the Aussie in me. I don't know.

The video is awesome. And Tiffani-Amber Thiessen is in it. How random is that? I love random.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Appropos of Nothing

Turned on the television late Saturday night and Cheers was coming on.

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot...."

And I'm curled up on the couch watching the sepia tone pub images and turn of the century illustrations. The ones they chose to echo the characters. The ones they changed when the cast changed - the new ones for Woody Harrelson, for Kelsey Grammer, for Kirstie Alley. The green shoes and dress for Rhea Perlman, which I always loved. You know the set will always be the same. Norm and Cliff will be at the bar. Sam will be hitting on someone. Carla will be wiping down the counter or smacking someone on the back of the head or taking pot -shots at Sam's newest fling. It's familiar and reassuring.

Like all long-running TV shows, things changed - actors left the cast, passed away, made different career choices. So new characters were created, new storylines. There is a sense of obligation to have people marry and change and divorce and move away and alter over time - as people do - when a television show runs for over ten years. But I could have watched Norm and Cliff sit around and goad Sam into trying some stupid scheme and Carla crow when the scheme backfires and Diane or Rebecca turn Sam down again and again... well, for just about ever. I know Sam was a sexist pig and all that, but it was always his undoing in the end, anyway, so I really feel no guilt feminism-wise for loving Cheers. It makes me smile.

It sounds silly, but I think the basic idea was brilliant and worked because it DOES speak to something in all of us. We love the idea of having somewhere we could go where there would always be friendly faces, where they know all your flaws and like you anyway, where everything is simpler because no one asks anything of you except that you come around every now and then. Cheers represented what family is theoretically supposed to be but never actually is for most people. And that's why we love it. That theme song - for me and many others - brings this brief rush of the feeling of coming home. Which, in a simpler world, is the best feeling there is... but in this world is illusive and far too fleeting.

Did you know that Nicky Colasanto (who played Coach) kept a picture of Geronimo in his dressing room as a good luck charm? When he died it was added to the set. On the final episode of Cheers, eight years after Colasanto's death, in the final scene Ted Danson straightened the Geronimo picture before he walked off stage for the last time.

I just loved that show.