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Saturday, May 07, 2011

100 Things I Love About Movies (a collection of memories)

IOD: In the Screening Room

I love movies. I always feel like I don't see enough movies, but I have seen a lot of movies, so I don't think I'm a complete blockhead about movies. Anyhow, Michael May and Jason Bennion both did this, so I need to do this as well. It's just a list of one hundred memories I have from movies. Some are from specific movies; others are specific movie-related memories I have. This is not a "Top 100", though, and the numbering is just an organizational thing, not a ranking of any kind. (Although not entirely...I'm sure, as I start writing this, that Number One will end up being related to Star Wars in some way.) If I write this list again tomorrow, I am sure that I could come up with another 100 things I love about movies. Movies rule!

Here we go....

100. "I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts!" (When Harry Met Sally....)

99. "How did you manage to give me flowers and be President at the same time?"

"It turns out I've got a rose garden." (The American President)

98. The couple in front of The Wife and I at Titanic. The guy was sitting still, but the lady was all over him. It was really bizarre, the contrast of her enthusiasm for making out with his apparent ambivalence.

97. Puss-in-Boots throwing up a hairball in Shrek 2. (You can't tell me that movie wasn't written by people who live with cats!)

96. The Ride of the Firemares from Krull:



95. Sean Connery as King Richard I (the Lion Heart) at the end of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

94. "I don't understand pressure? Well, flip you!" (The edited-for-teevee version of The Breakfast Club, with "flip" substituted for "f***".)

93. At the end of Witness, when the cops are all there on the Lapp farm sorting things out, an emotionally and physically exhausted John Book is leaning against a police car smoking a cigarette.

92. In ninth grade English class, we did a unit on mystery stories, reading, among other things, The Hound of the Baskervilles. I talked my teacher that year into showing Dial M for Murder in class. At first, my classmates tittered and giggled a bit at some of the "old movie" type stuff, but they got engrossed pretty quickly...especially when Grace Kelly grabbed the pair of scissors....

91. Seeing Pulp Fiction the day after I watched Siskel and Ebert rave about it on their show, but before word-of-mouth had taken hold of the movie: the theater was empty except for me. Seeing Pulp Fiction again, three weeks later, when word-of-mouth had done its work: the theater was packed.

90. Many, many hours spent perusing film music sections at record stores.

89. Movie scenes putting me in the mood for specific foods. One example: there's a scene in The Fugitive where Harrison Ford is studying evidence he's gathered over a carton of Chinese takeout. I went straight to my local Chinese joint after the movie ended.

88. Speaking of food: popcorn! Glorious, wondrous popcorn. My love of popcorn knows few bounds. I can barely process the notion of a movie without popcorn. (In an episode of Good Eats, Alton Brown was snortingly dismissive of the kind of popcorn popper that I own. Well, as much as I love Alton Brown...screw him! I love the popcorn my popper makes, and if that means that I own a one-task kitchen gadget -- something I usually try very hard to avoid in my kitchen -- so be it. Harumph!)

87. "I would never hurt you, Margaret." (Dead Again, a wonderful thriller from 1991 that nobody seems to talk about much these days. Just a delicious film that I watched over and over again in college, each time making sure that someone was in the room who hadn't seen it, so I could watch their reactions to the film's revelations as it went on. Love this movie!)

86. "Desolated, Mr. Bond?" "Heartbroken, Mr. Drax." (Moonraker, my first ever James Bond movie. I wanted to see it because it was set in space and had laser pistols. I ended up being a James Bond fan for life.)

85. Seeing The X-Files: Fight the Future. I liked the movie a lot, but it's particularly memorable because it played in my hometown at a theater which I refused to frequent (because the theater sucked). So The Wife and I came to Buffalo to see it...and experienced stadium seating in a theater for the first time.

84. I can't remember what movie I saw that day, but once I was exiting the theater after seeing an afternoon show, and on my way out, I overheard a theater customer demanding her money back from the manager, not for any technical mishap or service-related issue, but because she hated the movie she had seen. I thought that was pretty amusing; my attitude on such things has always been, "You takes your chances."

83. The Palace Theater in Olean, NY. It was probably a gorgeous place at one time, but by the time we moved to the area, it was a run-down dump. I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark there for the first time. The Palace was eventually demolished when it was determined that it would take Trumpian levels of money to bring the building back into any semblance of compliance with local code. I can't remember what's on the site now -- there's a boring Eckerd's or Rite-aid or some such thing near there, but I can't remember if that's the site where the Palace was or now. The Palace was also the one theater I can recall where I never once had popcorn during a movie, because their popcorn was dispensed by an ancient-looking vending machine.

82. The morning after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out. I hadn't been able to go the night before (because I was being punished for having done something stupid that I don't recall...but I probably deserved it). Of course, every one of my damn friends who had seen it had to tell me how awesome it was. Jerks, all of them. Jerks!

81. The look on Charlie Allnut's face when he wakes up and realizes that Rosie has poured all of his whiskey out into the river. (The African Queen...which I really really really need to see again.)

80. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Still my favorite of the Original Series films. I saw this in college opening night, with a couple of friends and The Girlfriend (later The Wife). But on that night we'd had a concert in Cedar Falls, IA -- the second installment of Wartburg College's annual Christmas with Wartburg pageant. When the concert was over we changed very quickly and high-tailed it to the theater in the nearby mall. I loved the movie, and I got positively misty at the end, when the film closes with the signatures of the original cast members appearing on the screen, one by one, ending with William Shatner's.

79. The nerdy kid trying to buy a pint of liquor in American Graffiti.

78. The first time I ever realized, while watching it, that I was seeing a crappy movie: some flick with Gary Coleman as a homeless kid who could predict horse races. I'm not bothering to look up the title.

77. The first foreign film I ever saw was a Fellini picture called Ginger e Fred, which is about a once-popular dance duo (who made their name impersonating Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) reuniting thirty years later for a teevee variety show. We saw it at an art-film house in Pittsburgh. I don't really recall the movie much at all, but I don't remember disliking it.

76. "Stop blowin' holes in my ship!" (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

75. "Why didn't you tell me who you were?"

"Because I knew what would happen. All 'mergers and acquisitions', no 'lust and tequila'." (Working Girl)

74. The second time I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there was a guy in his 50s in the theater a few seats away from me and up a row or two. He had the best time seeing that movie I've ever seen anyone have. He was laughing at the funny parts, he cheered the "hero" parts, and when the bad guy shoots Henry Jones Sr., he yelled out, "Get him, Indy!" It was hilariously awesome, seeing someone enjoy a movie that much.

73. When the Star Wars Special Edition re-releases happened in 1997, there was a guy at the ticket counter demanding a refund because he didn't realize that these were re-releases of the original movies. He'd thought he was about to see Episode One or Episode Seven or something.

72. Sophomore year of college, the second time I watched Casablanca. Roger Ebert has long held that the second viewing of Casablanca is always more effective than the first, and I tend to think that he's right. I liked the movie the first time I saw it, during summer between my freshman and sophomore years. Watched it again four months later, though -- and was so blown away that I would watch it every Sunday, after the early football game, for the next month and a half.

71. "We grew up in peacetime." (Hear My Song. A movie I really need to see again.)

70. My single favorite expletive of all time: "Oh, fuck-wank-bugger-shitting-arse-head-and-hole." Delivered with sterling perfecting by Bill Nighy in Love Actually, a movie which I love to the point that if you say something bad about it, I will fight you. That's no lie.

69. If you don't think this is the best song ever, I will fight you. That's no lie. (I'm of the opinion that Will Farrell could read aloud from an automotive parts ordering book and make it comedy gold.)

68. The Daughter was all of a month old, if that, when we went to visit The In-laws. The Wife and I decided to take advantage of a bit of free babysitting to actually go see a movie by ourselves, so we went to see the Disney Tarzan. Not a great choice for two new parents who are still skittish about the whole baby thing, because in the first five minutes of the movie, there's a baby whose parents are killed horribly, and two parents whose baby is killed horribly.

67. "Well, there's something you don't see every day." (Dr. Peter Venkman on the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Ghostbusters)

66. Demi Moore in Ghost. And not just the scenes where she's wearing overalls, either. Loved her in that movie.

65. Buffalo Bill stalking Clarice Starling in his basement, seeing her through the night-vision goggles...and when his hand enters the frame, reaching out for her, from his POV. I've never heard so many people scream at once in a movie theater.

64. Se7en, which is a masterpiece until the ending, when it flies off the rails more spectacularly than any movie I can ever remember.

63. "Are you Hootie?"

"No, I am not Hootie." (Jerry Maguire)

62. "I like to think that the last thing that went through old Norden's head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how in the Hell Andy Dufresne ever got the better of him." (The Shawshank Redemption. I could probably do a list of 100 Things I Love About The Shawshank Redemption.)

61. I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at a science fiction convention in Portland, OR. I was nine years old, and I didn't really understand the movie all that well. Or so I thought. Later on I would realize that I had understood quite a lot of it and just hadn't realized that I'd understood quite a lot of it. This was my first experience with science fiction that wasn't space opera. I still prefer space opera, but there's room in my SF life for the other stuff.

60. I wasn't all about space movies, sci-fi, and action-adventure as a kid. I went to see Coal Miner's Daughter with my mother because I genuinely wanted to see Coal Miner's Daughter. And I liked it, even being eight or nine at the time. I remember being terribly upset that the nice lady who helped Loretta Lynn early in her career, a Patsy something, died in a plane crash. That's not fair, dammit!

59. Across the Universe. I adore this film.

58. Another sign that I was the weird kid: I saw Gandhi in theaters when it came out, twice. It made quite the impression.

57. Other movies I remember seeing at the afore-mentioned Palace Theater in Olean, NY: Blade Runner, The Right Stuff, La Bamba, The Princess Bride, Roxanne.

56. "Lina, you've never looked lovlier!" (Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor) to Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), after Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) has missed Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) with a cake and thrown it into Lina's face instead, in Singin' in the Rain.)



55. The swordfight at the end of Rob Roy.

54. All the scary scenes in The Exorcist, most of which are set in a brightly lit room. Who needs dark to be scary!

53. At the end of my junior year of college, The Girlfriend (now The Wife) and I went to see Far and Away for our final date until later that summer. (She stayed in Iowa because she had a job; I went home.) That's the cheesy Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman "Irish immigrants achieve the American Dream" flick. I still have a soft spot in my heart for that movie.

52. I remember the crowd in the theater cheering at the sight of Cowboys coach Barry Switzer glowering after his team lost to the Cardinals at the end of Jerry Maguire. Heh!

51. I was dead set against going to see The Karate Kid. It looked so stupid and cheesy. I was angry at my mother when she dragged me to see it. And then I loved it. Oh well....

50. "People don't commit murder on credit!" (Dial M for Murder)

49. "That guy's cropdustin' where there ain't no crops." (North by Northwest)

48. "It's a hell of a thing, killin' a man. You take away everything he's got and everything he's ever gonna have." (Unforgiven)

47. Watching Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke more than a year after I fell in love with its score (by Joe Hisaishi).

46. "You guys have dropped enough sonar buoys in the North Atlantic that a man could walk from Greenland to Iceland to Scotland without gettin' his feet wet, so can we dispense with the bull?" (The Hunt for Red October -- perhaps the best script, dialog-wise, ever written for an action thriller.)

45. The impromptu "Tiny Dancer" from Almost Famous.



44. Drew Struzan, poster-artist extraordinaire:



43. "Oh, you English are sooo superior, aren't you? Well, do you know what you'd be without us, the USA, to protect you? The smallest f***ing province in the Russian Empire!" (A Fish Called Wanda)

42. "Both knew this was a one way ticket
I love you wife"
(The Abyss, which I will forever hold to be a criminally underrated SF movie masterpiece.)

41. Dori speaking Whale in Finding Nemo (still my favorite Pixar film).

40. "I Sing the Body Electric", from Fame. (What Glee could be, if it had any guts at all.)

39. "Leave the gun. Grab the canoli." (The Godfather -- I'm not a fan of the "Mob flick" genre, but this is indisputably an amazing film.)

38. Bob Peak, poster artist extraordinaire:



37. "You Can Fly", from Peter Pan

36. The first half of Braveheart, up to and including the Battle of Stirling. (The second half is very good, but the film does lose a bit of steam after that first huge battle.)

35. John McClane makes two bullets count at the end of Die Hard.

34. Jerry Goldsmith.

33. "Kirk, I thank you. What you have done--"
"What I have done, I had to do."
"But at what cost? Your ship, your son."
"If I hadn't tried, the cost would have been my soul." (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

32. "I'll be right here." (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial)

31. "Was that over the top? I never can tell!" (The Riddler, Batman Forever -- which is my favorite of the first group of Batman films.)

30. John Wayne in Stagecoach, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, True Grit.

29. Superman smiles at the camera, at the end of every Superman movie. (The first Superman is still my favorite superhero movie, ever.)

28. I don't care if you laugh. I liked The Notebook.

27. Salieri takes dictation from Mozart, in Amadeus. An amazing scene.



This scene is astonishing -- the way Salieri is both taking advantage of Mozart and providing him a service; he's doing both good and evil at the same time. And the way he still has to struggle to understand what is, for Mozart, as clear as day -- perfectly illustrative of the film's theme of mediocrity contrasted with genius, and Salieri's curse of being just good enough to know how bad he is.

26. "There's a war on! How is it you are headed west?"
"Well, we face to the north and then real subtle-like turn left." (The Last of the Mohicans)

25. "You don't want to be in love, you want to be in love in a movie." (Sleepless in Seattle)

24. The first appearance of Adult Tristan (Brad Pitt) in Legends of the Fall.

23. The last ten minutes of As Good As It Gets.



22. John Barry.

21. "What do I tell the kids?"
"Tell them I've gone fishing." (Jaws)

20. The opening credits of Saturday Night Fever, which are done in the same font as American Graffiti and Happy Days, but in garish red instead of the happy yellow of the earlier film and teevee show, set in more innocent times.

19. "Go get 'em, Tiger!" (Spiderman 2)

18. "Spiderpig, spiderpig! Does whatever a spiderpig does!" (The Simpsons Movie)

17. The pod race, The Phantom Menace

16. Obi Wan Kenobi, private eye, Attack of the Clones

15. The first time we see Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow.

14. The time warp: It's just a jump to the left! (Rocky Horror Picture Show)

13. Miklos Rozsa.

12. Joe Hisaishi.

11. Yoda and Obi Wan, last of the Jedi, take on the two Sith Lords in Revenge of the Sith.

10. Luke Skywalker comes this close to turning to the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi.

9. "We're the only ones who know! The only ones!" (Close Encounters of the Third Kind)

8. Howard Shore.

7. All of The Empire Strikes Back.

6. The Lord of the Rings. All of it. I could write a 100 Things post about LOTR alone. (Hmmmm...there's an idea....)

5. "I love you. I know I'll never find another girl like you. Will you marry me?" (On Her Majesty's Secret Service.)

4. "I Could Have Danced All Night" (My Fair Lady).



3. Casablanca, and as far as I'm concerned, the greatest single long close-up in movie history.

2. John Williams.





1. Was there any doubt?

1 comment:

Jedediah said...

You are seriously the only other person I know who has seen Dead Again (without being forced to watch it by me). Derek Jacobi rules, but there's so much more that's awesome about this movie, I really don't get why no-one knows it.