My dear CHUD folk, now again is the rare time I will blog about movies. You’re still screwed though, because you’re being subjected to whatever has been lovingly stored by choice in my own personal DVD collection. From time to time, I hilight five random movies for you that I love on my own terms regardless of their cinematic integrity or lack thereof. Our favorites are always personal. And they’re bound to include some very well-made films and a lot of ugly pimply ones we can’t stop hugging. Here are five more of mine:
Flashdance. I originally picked this movie because I generally love to see how our media portrays nightclubs and adult entertainment. Well, Flashdance ain’t about that. At least not a real strip club. I was a little disappointed, but I found other reasons to love it: Jennifer Beal’s ass as she gyrates in the ever-famous home dance workout. (Yeah… I’M the one.) The fluffy humor when the girls are working out on stage together. The music. Seriously… it’s cheesy, but it really lives inside this movie and belongs to this movie and frames this movie. How young the main character is with so much adult freedom. How her character simultaneously denies and embraces her sexuality… It is what it is. The love story is a load of crap. But more than anything I watch it for the brief moments she dances, and for that I am probably a piece of crap.
The Prize Winner. Oh, my dear Julianne Moore. What a beautiful woman. This is so very easily in my top twenty movies of all time, if not better. The story is true, and I love it. She was the mother I never had. The children seem real. And it is just such a good story. I’m a sucker for women-that-are-strong movies. The back cover of the DVD tells us this is “an engaging comedy [that] celebrates the power of a winning spirit.” Yes, that’s true and it sells DVDs. But it really does follow the theme of a person putting on a smile for her kids and protecting their peace and happiness at all times. The spilled milk and the drunk husband and the shattered glass and blood and piles of decapitated tulips are just as real as the smiles. And that is important to me. I can’t handle movies that are all smiles. They scare me.
The Cider House Rules. Why do I keep watching this movie every year or so? It’s the tension in how Homer Wells holds both medical, emotional, and social secrets to Candy’s pussy. How one film can cover the triangle of issues and still remain whimsical is still beyond me. It’s not about just sex. Or just kids. Or the support we give outside of the family bounds. It’s the suicide when the raped girl’s father tells Homer he “poked the knife all around in there.” It’s the brick wall of responsibility we see when Candy sees her lover lifted from the car, still in uniform, carried awkwardly, and we understand that she will now be caring for someone in a wheelchair. It’s Homer when he sheds the cloak of childhood he wore at the orphanage the day he loses his virginity on the beach. It’s when the film reel stops and we no longer hear the sick kid breathing. It’s when the bottle of ether breaks on the window sill.
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus. The movie starts out in a nudist colony. It also contains Nicole Kidman. It also contains a man covered in hair. Funnily enough, the furry man still manages to have major sex appeal either for or in spite of the hair. I still can’t tell which it is. This movie is fun to pause, and I love to do it. There are some picture-perfect shots, and I find myself rewinding in steps to get back to the parts that just seem to sing. I usually don’t appreciate the way artists are depicted in movies. It’s like our culture can’t understand what makes a person that communicates the incommunicable tick, or what role they play for us, so they are depicted as eccentric. This film is no different. The saving grace is that the eccentric artist picks the eccentric as her subject matter, thus becoming surprisingly normal. I can live with that, if even barely. This film is flawed, but I appreciate the thematic exploration of friendship and sexual curiosity. Bottom line: if I’m rewatching it, I like it. And I do. And do.
The Aristocrats. What a gift to society. If you haven’t seen it, and appreciate a foul joke, then you gotta see this. Although it is about the dirtiest tasteless joke ever, it’s also about a study of our collective criteria for what is inappropriate. The joke is about pushing itself to absurdity, and it really does. I actually got my chance to tell a bar customer my version, and made it about eight minutes before we were both crying. I got a pretty good tip that night. The subject matter is just that accessible. If it were just the joke, though, it would be too dumb. The fact that you get to hear comedians talk about their experiences telling it and explaining what it means in the history and fabric of comedy makes you realize it’s more than a poop and period blood joke. It makes the dumb and pedestrian surprisingly smart. I can get behind that. And by that I mean behind the last one in the train on the stage while slipping in diarrhea…