Tags: moo


Movie Meme

I don't do memes at all over in thefourthvine, which is my other LJ, for the .0001 readers of littera_abactor who didn't know that. So I've never actually done a meme. But umbo passed this one to me directly, the first time I've ever actually caught a meme. And I wanted to see what writing one was like; I mean, how can I be a real Livejournal user if I've never memed? So, without further excuses, explanations, or exculpations, I bring you: the movie meme.

Total number of films that you own: 52 on VHS, 66 on DVD (actual films, not yoga or TV shows). This amuses me. See, back when Best Beloved and I first started living together, I believed it was beyond weird, maybe even vaguely immoral, to buy movies; my family of origin had not owned even one. Best Beloved, though, came from a household where they didn't bother renting a movie; if they were interested enough to watch it once, they just bought it. After some discussion, BB pointed out that, you know, my sister and I rented the same two movies most weekends for three years while I was in high school, and if we'd just bought them, we'd have saved money that could've gone toward popcorn. Or a downpayment on a car. Which was absolutely true, and irrefutably sensible, and eventually convinced me of the wisdom of buying movies we'd watch several times. Still, it's strange to me that we own so many.

The last film I bought: Um. Actually, I think it was The Fast and the Furious.

The last film I watched at home: See, now, I'm not sure what counts.

If just recorded visual entertainment counts, Trigun volume 3; Trigun was originally added to our Netflix queue for Best Beloved, but it has proved to be so wonderful that I'm watching it too.

If a semi-documentary about a "sport" counts, NASCAR Winston Cup 2003 Year in Review, which has been my most interesting entertainment experience this year and is so worth seeing, even for people who aren't trying to write TFATF fan fiction. It's like - no, it's better than - the ethnographic films I watched in my anthropology class as an undergrad; it's a look into a culture more alien than the Jivaro, at least to me. And this DVD makes it clear that NASCAR is neither sport nor entertainment but rather a culture, group identity, and cultural identifier all in one. Let me try to explain that statement. OK, first, there's almost no actual racing on this DVD; the closest it comes is one close finish and several major wrecks. The DVD spends more time on race tracks than on racing - the tracks are anthropomorphized, given personalities and goals and interests. ("This track was really trying to prove itself this year," for example.) Pit crews also get a goodly share of the screen time, and there's nothing quite as gripping as watching people rebuild a car soon to be driven at very high speeds with...duct tape. (True and fascinating fact!) There's also a lengthy segment on the Iraq war from a very pro-war perspective, with American flags and American theme songs and drivers talking about soldiers and jets soaring through the sky. And speaking of those drivers? You're just supposed to know who they are; they aren't identified in text at the bottom of the screen or, for the most part, in the narration. Neither is anyone or anything else. You need more prior knowledge to understand this DVD than you do to get an A in organic chemistry, and I am if anything understating that. Amazing. Fascinating. Beyond weird. Everyone should see this DVD.

But if that doesn't count, then Pitch Black. This makes me sound much more into Vin Diesel than I am. But I fear no wrong impressions. Well, in Livejournal, anyway. (And if I could vid, I would so do a bondage TFATF vid using Dom as the, well, sub, and using shots from Pitch Black. The Diesel characters look similar enough, and some of the settings are similar enough, and Diesel is in some impressive bondage gear. Best Beloved and I spent much of the first part of the movie pointing out shots that would fit perfectly into, say, a "Master and Servant" TFATF vid.)

Five films that mean a lot to me: I could use a number of movies for this list; it's hard to choose. But to me the obvious choices are the ones that changed me as a movie viewer. In essence, then, this list could be subtitled "The Remedial Education of a Movie Watcher."

1. Highlander and Nomads, which for me count as one movie. These are the previously-mentioned movies my sister and I rented most weekends for three years. I have watched each of them, conservatively, 80 times, probably more like 120. I still don't understand them, because this was before I learned how to watch movies, but the fact is - these are the first movies I really saw. (I was not taken to movies as a child, after an unfortunate incident in a Disney movie with the tear-jerker scene; it was the only scene I really understood in the movie, so it came out of nowhere and hit me - and, by extension, my parents - like a blow to the jaw. I cried for the rest of the movie (and the rest of the day), completely missing the happy ending because my eyes were swollen shut and in any case I didn't believe the world could contain happy endings at that point. For days afterward, I continued crying whenever I was awake. After that, my parents decided that it would be better for all concerned if I didn't see any movies until I was old enough to drive myself to them; I was not even allowed to watch G-rated movies in school.) And if my mind blended together the dialog and the individual scenes I understood from both movies to create one really peculiar and not terribly coherent story? Well, at least I was trying. Give me points for that.

2. Aladdin. Another movie I watched a lot - at least 50 times in the theater. This wasn't fangirl behavior, either. (Aladdin fangirls? Yikes. Scary concept.) My boyfriend at the time loved going to movies but didn't much care what we saw. I wanted to go to something familiar and safe. And I liked that this was a musical; the songs helped me key into the story and gave me something to look forward to during the narrative parts. So we saw this and saw it and saw it and...suddenly I understood it, understood how it was telling a story. I know now that I still missed a lot of the basics, but the point is: this is the first movie I watched as a movie, as coherent visual storytelling.

3. The Big Chill, Night of the Hunter, and Breakfast at Tiffany's. These go together, because between them they taught me how to understand movies; for lack of a better description, these taught me to watch the way a movie is directed. I don't watch movies solely for character or plot; movies fall apart for me, into scenes and themes and the choices the director made. These three films taught me that every shot is carefully selected and designed and therefore every shot has a purpose and a reason for being the way it is, and that you can best understand the movie by watching that, by watching not the story but how the story is told. These movies made me into a movie watcher, as opposed to just a person sitting in an audience in a theater; after they taught me how to see films, I never again had to spend two hours in the dark thinking about something else and only pretending to see the movie.

4. Dark City. This was the first movie that worked for me on every level. I can and do watch this for the direction, the setting, the plot, the characters, whatever - no matter how I choose to see it, it works. This was also the first movie in which I was able to see the characters as people. (In general, to me, characters in movies look like - well, not like people. There's something wrong with them. In some movies, the wrongness is so pervasive I can't stand to watch it in any mode other than the director's-choices one. I have no idea why this is, but it might have something to do with my reliance on body language rather than facial expression for non-verbal communication. In many cases, actors in movies will be saying one thing verbally and an entirely opposite thing with their bodies; I'm sure I'm not the only person this confuses. But for whatever reason, mostly characters in movies look like, well, people pretending. There are a few actors who never do this, who always look all the way right, but for the most part they just...don't.)

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. And this was the first movie I reacted to as a fan, the first movie I wanted more and more and more of, the first movie that caught me up in the story, made me experience and believe it. The first two times I saw this, I couldn't watch the direction at all; I was too entranced with the story. It was absolutely unforgettable, seeing this; it was like reading a book with three senses instead of one. I can't explain how wonderful it was, even though I was terrified for the first half of the movie (the beginning, with the hand-to-hand battle, scared the crap out of me) and I had to go see it again so that I could remember the whole thing. Seeing this was just...I really can't even describe it, what it was like to see and feel the story itself. That has never happened to me before or since. I could watch this movie forever.

Which five people are you passing the baton to and why? I'm a rebel; I'm breaking the chain. (Truth is, I haven't the social currency to pass this to anyone. But I'd love it if one of the lurkers - the entry-less - who has friended this journal would respond to this. I, at least, want to know more about you than just your excellent taste in friends.)