Thursday, May 19, 2005

Now I've Got a Craving for Popcorn

I've been seeting this movie meme all over the place, and figured I might as well play. So...

How many movies do you own? 44 on DVD, according to a quick count, and another ten or so on VHS, if you don't count duplicates. That's just movies, of course. If you add in the TV stuff (including miniseries), the number's much larger.

What was the last film you bought? The Muppets Take Manhattan. I'd just been thinking that, really, I ought to do something about completing my collection of Muppet movies, because I only had the first one and the incredibly disappointing Muppet Christmas Carol. Then I happened to walk past a display where they were selling it for, like, five bucks, and I gave in to the serendipity.

What was the last film you watched? The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which I talked about a little bit earlier.

What are five films you watch a lot and/or mean a lot to you? Oh, wow, let's see...

1) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Sure, I've become a bit jaded and cynical about Trek, even if it was the first and more obsessive science-fictional love of my life. But TWoK continues to hold up amazingly well. It's not just good Star Trek, it's a darned good movie. Unlike certain Trek offerings I could name, it doesn't sacrifice depth for mindless action and snazzy special effects and it doesn't sacrifice excitement and suspense for intellectual pretentiousness. Plus, it's got Ricardo Montalban! And, even though I know perfectly darned well he's back by the end of the next movie, Spock's death still makes me sniffly. I've seen this well into the double-digit number of times, and although I'm no longer watching it at least once a year the way I did in my teens, I'm still expecting that number to keep on creeping up over the course of my lifetime.

2. The Muppet Movie: OK, possibly I'm only thinking of this one because I've had Muppets on my mind. But, man... This was one of the very, very few movies my parents took me to when I was a kid, and it was on near-continuously on HBO the very first month we got cable TV in the house. I must have watched it three times a week that month. And, unlike a lot of things from my childhood, it holds up flawlessly. The jokes are still funny, the characters still lovable, the songs still catchy. I still love it to pieces.

3. Starman: I apparently imprinted on this movie as a teenager for some reason. Maybe because it was the kind of love story I could actually appreciate. Maybe because it's one of the best films of the "alien gets stranded on Earth, learns about humanity and teaches us Emotional Lessons" subgenre. Maybe it's because Jeff Bridges' smile breaks my heart. I suspect the beautiful, haunting musical score has something to do with it, too. Roger Ebert described it as not just a good science fiction film, but "a great road movie." One of my friends, somewhat dismissively, referred to it as a science-fictional "chick flick." I think they're probably both right: it's a SF road movie romance, and maybe it's just the fact that that works that makes it special.

4. They Might Be Giants: An undeservedly obscure, very strange little movie starring George C. Scott as a guy who believes he's Sherlock Holmes, and Joanne Woodward as Dr. Mildred Watson, his shrink. It's sweet, funny, completely off-the-wall in a bizarrely low-key sort of way, and it's got tremendous heart. I discovered it quite by accident on A&E one night some time on the late 80's, fell in love with it utterly, and was overjoyed when I realized they were repeating it in the small hours of the morning so I could tape it. I've only very recently managed to find it on DVD.

5. Man, I have no idea what to name as #5. I keep coming back to the movies I watched over and over as a child (The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), as a teenager (Wargames, Logan's Run), and as a young adult (The Lost Boys), which, at the very least, hold considerable nostalgia value for me now. For all of those, there was almost a ritualistic aspect to the watching of them. The once-a-year or so TV broadcasts of The Wizard of Oz or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were major childhood events, with the family gathering before the TV. And, as for the others, well, should they happen to pop up on late at night on cable or late in the afternoon on the independent broadcast stations, they simply had to be watched all the way through. In this fashion, they worked themselves pretty thoroughly into the fabric of my life. I suppose if I had to pick just one, I might settle on Logan's Run, because it's actually quite a good movie, entirely independent of the personal associations it has for me. In fact, the older I get, the more resonance that movie has, for reasons that may, perhaps, be obvious. The Lost Boys is awfully fun, though...

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