Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Lights, Camera, Whatever

You could say I'm something of a movie buff, or was. When I was younger, I not only watched the Academy Awards, I had this big encylopedia of film that I would thumb through, memorizing titles, dates, and stars. A lot of those factoids I still remember, particularly nuggets from the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood. To this day, I surprise plenty of people whose asses I kick at trivia, delivering a Mortal Kombat–style fatality by announcing that Olivia de Havilland's sister is Joan Fucking Fontaine, duh! And I still have the encyclopedia of film, although it's not just out of date, but rendered obsolete by the Internet Movie Database. Thanks, Internet!

Anyway, over the past decade or so my enthusiasm for "the movies" has declined precipitously. The Oscars bore me. Hollywood in general nauseates me. And going to the theatre these days is an exercise in aggravation: inflated ticket prices, commercials before the movie, chatty teenagers using their fucking cell phones, and the fact that the movies themselves just seem to suck more and more every year.

Which is why I'm amazed there are a number of movies out now I'd actually like to go see. In no particular order:

I'm sure I've already missed out on Clerks II and Scoop, except maybe for a dollar theatre somewhere. And The Black Dahlia garnered some terrible reviews from preview audiences back in February... but maybe the filmmakers have made some good changes since then. Brian De Palma working from James Ellroy material just seems like it would have to have some merit. I'm not expecting another L.A. Confidential, but... OK, I am. I want another L.A. Confidential, dammit. I love that movie.

Anyway, I'll probably end up watching all of that stuff on DVD eventually. (Netflix is another reason not to go to the theatre anymore.) But I did recently go out to see the tragicomic documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, which I highly recommend. If you don't know who Daniel Johnston is (most people don't), I suggest you Google him. I could say he's a mentally ill singer/songwriter/artist, but that wouldn't really do him and his strange life justice.

And if you don't know about Los Angeles's (still unsolved) Black Dahlia murder of 1947, Google that, too. On second thought, just go here since there's a lot of bullshit pet theories surrounding the case and this seems pretty evenhanded. The facts by themselves are gruesome and fascinating enough without being embellished by crazy conspiracy theories involving Marilyn Monroe, Bugsy Siegel, Orson Welles, and etc.

OK, so I still like movies. Maybe not always the most high-brow ones, but so what? If Bergman or Fellini had directed Animal House, you know it would have totally sucked.

Now for some quasi-related links:

RogerEbert.com has an article on drinking and drunks in the movies, which is cool except for its holier-than-thou tone about us lushes:
Arthur... unlike real drunks, is more entertaining, more witty, more human, and more poignant than you are. He embodies, in fact, all the wonderful human qualities that drunks fondly, mistakenly believe the booze brings out in them.
Speak for yourself, buddy. I'm unstoppably awesome when I'm trashed.

The all-new, all-cool, all-hip (uh huh) Cracked magazine has a primer on writing scripts for chick flick movies. Mostly funny because it's so true:
At some point late in the first act or early in the second, the main character and the people she cares most about (friends or children) must hear a soulful 1960's [sic] song either on the radio or a jukebox, and sing it together—ideally into combs, and while dancing about in a way that is carefully choreographed to look completely random and spontaneous.
You go, girl.

And, finally, how about an actual movie? If, like me, you ever got tired of seeing lovable loser Charlie Brown tormented by Lucy and all his other jerkwad "friends," then you will enjoy this nice short, Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown.

You go, Chuck, and I don't mean Norris!

C'est tout. Cut!