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. Welcome to the second installment.
A Chorus Line – Embarrassing as it is, I’ll never get rid of this movie. I grew up in the world of musical theatre, haunting the catwalks, wings, and dressing rooms of many theatres, and as a result, it will always be in my blood. This is a movie adaptation of a musical about musical theatre and performance. It’s made for the insiders and those that know the life to appreciate. It is even closer to my heart because I had the um… privilege in high school of awkwardly performing the most popular number from the show on stage with a huge chorus line. The movie indelibly paints faces onto the voices you might already know from the over-performed musical. I’ve always found it odd that Michael Douglas shows up in this of all movies as the male lead. I’ll never get enough of the leotards and headbands and dancing. The dancing gets funky. Like really 1985. I love this movie so much that I will never make an apology for it. It falls in the category of “guilty pleasure.” Side note: The stage musical is… um… not as PG-13 as the movie and had me at 17 years old sinking into my chair in embarrassment when one of the characters talked on and on about his boner. I was sitting next to my dad. We never talked about things like that in my house. Let’s chalk this up as NOT one of my favorite father-daughter moments growing up.
The Others – I’m a huge fan of Nicole Kidman, but this is not why this movie has remained on my shelves for so long. It’s because I hate ghost stories, and this managed to transcend a ghost story and become a love story—a love story set inside a space-time theory model no less. Never in my life have I watched a ghost film that made me empathize so deeply with the character that actually does the haunting. I’d never entertained the idea that ghosts must be scared of us too. Ghosts to us are usually “others,” but this must certainly be a metaphor for accepting others and learning to live together in peace. When you see how the other side is just trying to survive, it humanizes your enemy and makes you incapable of blind hate. The metaphors run deep throughout the movie, and I find it so easy to empathize with Kidman and even her children. Kudos to Alejandro Amenábar for making a ghost story that is everything but a ghost story. How refreshing.
About Schmidt – One word: mediocrity. Holy heck. For me, to be able to embrace a character that embodies mediocrity to the point that he becomes a caricature of himself is incredible. I hate Warren Schmidt and never feel sorry for him, and it feels good laughing at him. Jack Nicholson plays the perfect shmuck. The Hummels and candles on the roof of the RV in a poor attempt at spirituality, the decay of the kitchen after his wife dies, and his inability to give a good speech at his only daughter’s wedding are a few of my many favorite moments to hate him for his failures. Nearly every scene reeks of the mediocrity we forget to notice in real life. We get a consistent drip of it in scene after scene and I find that so much of it resonates with what we hate about people in real life. This shmuck is trapped in a world where he’s forced to find significance and spirituality in everyday and family events and can barely muster the desire to do it, let alone the ability. I’ll watch this again and again because nothing else on my shelves brings laughter this close to hate and weaves them together into a everlasting taste that doesn’t go away no matter how much I enjoy it.
In Good Company – Mentorship has been a huge force in my life. Without a few very amazing people to look up to and emulate, I’d not be the person I am today. That’s probably why I’m drawn to this movie–the mentorship between Dennis Quaid’s and Topher Grace’s character goes both ways and it’s nuanced and jarring on both ends. Both of the characters, because neither can seem to really win, humanize our idea of success. Scarlett Johansson and the love story aspect of the film do nothing for me. It’s really the moments when success is mitigated by humanity–like driving off of the lot with a new car and immediately getting into an accident. Or dropping a tray of baked ziti on the kitchen floor while dinner guests are present. Or being grown up and corporate and still getting busted by your girlfriend’s dad. I still find myself wanting to watch this every once in a while for its interesting commentary on success.
Fried Green Tomatoes –If there ever was a “girl movie” on my shelf, I suppose this is it. And I consume it simply because it is a girl movie. I am of course drawn to the narrative of the central character and how she embodies womanhood and motherhood in rapidly changing times. But I really enjoy the fact that the four main characters are simultaneously dealing with huge issues that nearly define them: spousal abuse, single motherhood, being aging and single, midlife crisis, menopause, and weight control. Did I mention that all of this is covered inside a murder mystery? Because Fried Green Tomatoes is kind of one of those, too. Even the theme music is memorable to me as part of the specific emotional nuance the film maintains. Here’s the scene that keeps me coming back: It is time for lifelong best friends Ruth and Idgie to say goodbye to each other, as Ruth is dying a painful death from cancer. Idgie, the hardened tomboy barely chokes out Ruth’s favorite story while pacing back and forth into the next room. By the time the story is complete, we know Ruth is gone. And we know that Idgie knew she wouldn’t make it through the story, either. I enjoy watching the way women care for each other and are strong for each other. Fried Green Tomatoes is an epic tale of this, and I can’t stop coming back at least once a year to experience it.