Considering that this is a movie-based website, I figured I’d give back to the CHUD community a little bit and actually write about movies. But I’m going to write about MY movies. I own exactly seventy-five. The criteria for my collection is this: if I won’t rewatch it, I will sell it and get rid of it. I don’t collect movies just to have a collection. An extensive library is not important to me. So everything I have comes with an excuse of sorts, I suppose. An excuse for why I like it. Or a bad movie that keeps giving me a reason to not get rid of it. Not all of the movies in my collection are great. God, do I know it. I’m sure some of these will be confessions and some of these mentions will be full of ignorant laud for a piece of shit that I just can’t bring myself to eliminate from the canon. Either way, I’ll be profiling these embarrassing or otherwise pieces from my personal shelves, five at a time, from time-to-time. You’re welcome.
Original Sin. I can’t tell you how in the hell I have hung on to this for so long, but I fell in love with this movie back in the years when I was reading Madame Bovary (a symbolic period novel about an oversexualized heroine.) I suppose Angelina Jolie’s character struck a chord with me at this time, and having a background in making costumes for operas, I can’t help watching period movies without at least a little bit of guilty pleasure. At this point, I’m over the angst her character possesses as she is torn between both lovers. I’m almost over the sex scene. I’ve seen enough of the costumes. But it’s something about the way the movie keeps changing directions that keeps me hooked just enough. We see the good become bad, the bad become victim, and then the victim be saved by love. I love the cadence of time in the movie… perhaps it’s me slowly becoming aware of the act structure, but being mildly aware of it allows me the luxury of experiencing it like a novel. I can feel the pages turning at the end of the chapter. I feel a new chapter beginning. It is a love story in some chapters, feels like a crime novel in others, and ends in redemption. When I feel like a literary ride that changes directions on me at will, I pick this up again. This is the only hook left, but it’s still worth something to me.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Think 1982. It’s a musical about the Bunny Ranch, and it’s got Dolly Parton, Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Jim Nabors, and a hell of a lot of singing prostitutes dancing around in dated teddies and feather boas. I don’t care what you say, but this is a jewel. I grew up doing musicals. There are a lot of crappy ones out there, and a lot that have never survived their shift to film structure. But this one just keeps giving. The songs are great. Even the love songs. The choreography (cowboy-football player hybrids and prostitutes) has me shaking my head in a combination of shame and laughter as the cowboy hats and skirts come flying off to reveal teddies and leotards. The costuming is just enough fluff and color pallette to make you appreciate its roots (the stage!). It’s packed full of nostalgia and sweetened, yet unapologetic sexuality. I have to be in a certain mood to watch this, and when I do, I end up in an even better mood.
The Game. Love it. I will never forget the first time I got to the ending, and he falls through the glass to the giant stunt air pillow. I was suspended. And then it gifts you with Sean Penn tentatively emoting in only the way he can, and we breathe again. Then we are rewarded just as Michael Douglas’ character was with answers as we see every character we thought we knew now in the ballroom. I suppose it’s the true meaning of suspense because I am literally suspended the whole film on the edge between being unsure, and convincing myself of what must be real and logical. It is a trip. It’s other-worldly, but it’s not science fiction. How the hell can it do that to me? But it does it every time. I will never get rid of this film.
The Mirror Has Two Faces. This one is admittedly embarrassing, but I love Barbara Streisand. This is not one of Jeff Bridges’ best roles, but I suppose I keep forgiving him for it in order to enjoy the movie. The movie is trite. What can I say? But it’s got Barbara’s comic goodness throughout it, as well as her classic quirky femininity… always rewarding. But it is this scene that keeps me coming back: the reveal of her new body after she loses the weight and dresses like a woman of her times. Not only is the reveal shocking and rewarding every time, but it deconstructs itself into something different. Kitten’s got claws! I just enjoy seeing her unwrap twice–first as a believable sexual being, and again in the same scene as a meaningfully strong person. I guess I’m like everyone else… I love those moments that make me want to crawl through the screen and high-five the main character. There you go. I can’t get rid of it.
25th Hour. Holy shit. I am rarely seriously moved by films, but this is one of them. You make it through the whole film with them. The whole thing. You wait with them. You understand his dilemma. The film seems to operate at a certain level of tension, and at a certain level of emotional awareness… and then I am ravaged at the end. I find myself with tears rolling down my cheeks as the father’s heartfelt words for his son are spoken over what is either Edward Norton’s possible or real future. I don’t laugh much during even really funny movies, nor do I have a hairpin trigger for tears, but damn, this one completely arrested me. Thank you, Spike Lee. What a journey. What a sucker punch. I’ll ride that train again and again because it’s noble this time. Best emotional sucker punch. Ever.