A Couch Potato's Guide to Movies
One thing I like about going to movies is how big the screen and sound is. One thing I hate about going to movies is everything else: mostly that I can't stand people in general, so sitting with the ones smacking and sucking the life out of popcorn is torturous. I'll see movies with any of three people: my date Hiwatt, because he holds my hand; Sigrid, because she makes me buy her candy and then enjoys it loud enough to drown out the popcorn eaters whom I don't adore as I adore her; and my friend Kathleen Wilson, because she's a know-it-all, and because she'll let me sit on the aisle and will hiss at anyone in the theater who pisses her off. Beyond that, it's "rent-and-run" for little me, which I generally do at my preferred store, because most places make me feel like I'm on the inside of a microwave oven, and I'm always walking into a mirrored wall or something. I'm no movie maven though, so there are just VAST omissions in this guide. To make it worse, if I didn't know the year of the film I just left it off. The people manning the FUN/INFO lines at the downtown library said it would be "okay" if I stopped calling them. If you really want to be a stickler for things on lists, take your sweet ass to the library and get some sort of finicky video guide book (this is my disclaimer, obviously).* When Only Sissy Will Do: On my 13th birthday, for reasons I can't remember, I was grounded (not that I had a roller-skating party planned, anyway). Mom took me to see Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), which later won Sissy Spacek an Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn. Not only does Sissy sing all the songs, but she almost did Loretta better than Loretta does Loretta. I remember thinking that according to Appalachian rule I was marryin' age, and if I had myself a big, strapping husband I wouldn't be grounded. Badlands is also a compelling Spacek movie, in which she stars as a wayward Midwestern schoolgirl who joins freaky garbage man Martin Sheen on the run. The score is haunting, the cinematography is spectacular, and Sissy is at her ethereal best. For the horror portion of your Spacek movie marathon, grab Carrie on your way out of the video store.* Teen Movies You Can Pretend to Relate To: First off, don't ever rent anything John Hughes. If you have cable TV, at least five circa-1985 teen movies are screened per week. Watch those when you're clipping your toenails and doing the laundry -- you won't miss anything, because Molly Ringwald plays the same person in all of them, the word "shit" is overdubbed "shoot," and so forth. Dazed and Confused is right on even if you were just getting born in the '70s (ya little brat). This one is great not just for the teen scene, but for the vintage '70s brilliance (look for the belt-buckle pot pipe). My advice is to play a drinking game based on the frequency of people blazing up in the movie. However, I don't think Dazed is a bong-lover's companion, because there's so much you can miss if you start fucking off with matches and stuff. Ditto for Clerks. If you're feeling sappy, try The Year My Voice Broke -- poignant 1960s Australian teen suffering. I left out classics such as Rebel Without A Cause and the like because a movie about teens is hardly a movie for teens. Hel-LO? Like, I'm sure.* Feeling Bette: I swear, I'm always playing Bette Davis to everyone else's Anne Baxter, which is why All About Eve (1950) is one of my picks. In 1950, this one landed six Oscars and everyone (except Bette, natch) went home happy. The film (you really should know this already) is centered on the New York theater world: Bette is fading actress Margo Channing, who takes in a scheming understudy, Eve (that's Anne Baxter). Basically, George Sanders (Best Supporting Actor, as Addison), the cynic, takes Eve out back in the end and smacks her around, and with not a minute to spare. As an added bonus, Marilyn Monroe simmers her way through the party scene, as the kind of girl she thought everyone thought she was in real life -- which she was -- er -- at least, when she needed to get things done. Also check out Now, Voyager for Bette before and after waxing her upper lip, and for the cigarette scenes.* Sex in Technicolor: Sharon Stone? Bah! Everyone knows the sex goddesses of the 1950s "did it," they just left the ways and hows up to you. The Girl Can't Help It is Jayne Mansfield at her most hot-pants with bonus (or should I say boner) musical performances by Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, and others. How to Marry a Millionaire avec Marilyn Monroe -- you do the math. Doctor No (Bond -- duh) and What's New Pussycat? -- both with my personal favorite, Ursula Andress. Liz Taylor wasn't very "blonde," sexually, but if you want to look at her boobies in her tight sweater, A Place in the Sun is nice (though black-and-white and serious all over). Montgomery Clift is hot in that one too.* Obligatory Hitchcock: Oh, shut up! Rear Window -- it's Grace Kelly at her most blow-jobby. And you probably know many woman, including me, just like the one in the lower right-hand window, who get all dressed up with nowhere to go.* When You've Been Fearing the Reefer: Metropolis (1984), because you can get lost and it doesn't matter, and keep in mind that under the influence this film will seem 12 hours long.* Got Your Folks Sleeping on the Couch?: How Green Was My Valley (1941), or the greatest hits of John Ford, you decide. You will cry in earnest, and your parents will appreciate the sentiment and subsequently buy you that snowboard, if you play your cards right. Also Cinema Paradiso (1989, Italian) is delightful and rustic after taking mother and father to dine at the local Italian pasta joint (giving the evening a "theme" gets you extra points for creativity).* Foreign Fun: I have no idea. I just grab the ones with something interesting on the box. Basically, anything Chinese will be gorgeous; German, stark; French, weird; and British, silly. Speaking of limies, everyone is kookoo over the British sitcoms (Absolutely Fabulous, Red Dwarf, etc.). So do that if you want to get something foreign but not fatal.* Going to a Go-Go: Concert films, quickly and alphabetically -- just take my word for it: Abba: The Movie (1977) (If you don't like them, don't be a dunce and rent this. Did I mention I've never even seen it? It just sounds good). Gimme Shelter (1970) -- the Rolling Stones, my dear. Leave it to the Stones to summon Satan and then get nervous. The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (1979) is standard Sex Pistols fare; relatively dumb, too, but worth a go 'round, since they're going on tour and you're about to hate them all over again.