Heeeere’s Johnny

I love Stanley Kubrick. And I love The Shining. And when I found out that I could see it for the first time on the big screen, I was all yusssssss.

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missing letters – awesome. And +10 for Jewish film festival.

The Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace – yes that is its real name – has held a Kubrick Film Fest all month long, showing every one of his movies. After I saw totally had a life changing experience seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey in 70mm Cinerama, my life mission has been to see all his movies on the screen. So this month has been one of those times where I really, really, really wish I was independently wealthy and could have taken the month off of work to see all of them. Alas, I am poor. So I chose The Shining and got real excited.

The first time I saw The Shining, I was 10 years old. It was at my birthday party, where we had a taco bar and watched movies (badass). We capped the night off with this beauty, and I can’t figure out why my mom thought it was appropriate. I was always creeped out by the movie box, which looked like this:

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Seriously – what the fuck is that face in the title font? /shudder

And my mom told me about the Redrum! Redrum! scene, which was instantly intriguing to my eerily obsessed with insanity 10 year old self.

But 10 year olds are dumb. And 10 years growing up in the Beavis and Butthead era are even dumber. We were idiot children cackling and making 10 year old jokes about rotting corpse booobies in the bathroom, high fiving any time Jack said fuck, making fun of Shelley Duvall’s teeth, starting blankly at the screen as we, a room full of kids, witnessed furries in action for the first time, not knowing what we just saw, just knowing that it was fucking weird (pun intended). We complained about the lack of gore and there was many a “THIS ISN’T SCARY” to be heard. As I said before, dumb kids.

But I’m all grown and up and totally sophisticated, and The Shining is unsettling and beautiful and a damn near perfect ghost story – actual, demonic ghosts, and the lingering ghosts from addictions and rage and disappointment. And Jack Nicholson. Shit.

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Seeing it in theatres was amazing. The soundtrack engulfed me and I felt it right in my bones, and since I was riding solo, I had no one to fan girl to incessantly, so I noticed little nuances and nods to the novel that I hadn’t seen before (like when Wendy and the doctor are sitting in the Torrence’s apartment, the only book with its spine facing the audience is called The Wise Child? Or Jack reading a copy of Playboy in the Overlook’s lounge?) And even though everyone in the audience had seen it before, so when Jack gave lines like “I’d never hurt you. Or your mother,” everyone cracked up. It was one of those instantly annoying/instantly bonding moments – a small part of me was like, aw man, can’t we pretend we all don’t know it’s going to end with an ax murder?

And you want to know how to make that blood coming from the elevator door scene even creepier? See it on a giant screen with booming orchestration. /yikes But I think my new favourite part is the scene between Wendy and Jack, when she brings him breakfast in bed. She asks how his writing is going, and he’s less than enthusiastic. So she says, “it’s all about getting in the habit of writing everyday.” And Jack kinda gives her this half smile, half fuck you face while saying “Yep. That’s all it is.” And it’s just magical. Like, I feel that.

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All in all, I had a great time.  The Hayden is an art deco style, independent theatre and it’s really fucking cool. Each theatre has its own theme and lush Gatsby era decor. The candy bar sells inexpensive candy and popcorn – in cardboard movie boxes – and not hot dogs or chicken wings. The seats don’t recline, and you can’t buy alcohol. The staff wear vests and bow ties and they still tear tickets. It’s my new favourite place.

 

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Or Flash City
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dat ceiling

It was perfect.

And yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a new place to spend all the money I don’t have.

Also, I still sometimes make fun of Shelley Duvall’s teeth. As I said before, I am totally sophisticated.

Fantastic Movies You Aren’t Watching, Part 1

I have an arsenal of movies that I hopelessly recommend to anyone who will listen – and what typically happens next is that these movies still go unwatched – unless I’ve wrapped the person up in a straight jacket and eye gaugies a la A Clockwork Orange (another flick that I’ll get awkwardly excited about if someone mentions it, or if I ever hear any combination of the words “clock” “work” and “orange” in the same sentence) and stuck them on the couch, forcing them to look out for the good parts.

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basically.

It’s been well documented that my taste (in everything) runs the gamut from shit or cannon worthy. But movies and TV are a special spectrum. Most of the shit flicks I like I like just as as a guilty pleasure – some have indefinable qualities (or at least qualities that I’m not willing to mention in public) that keep me re-watching them against my will (looking at you, Twilight). But some of the movies on my No One Cares But Me List are damn good – the limited release or straight to video gems that got passed over at Blockbuster for big budget babes. So I’ve decided to unleash them here in all their glory. Because everyone in my audience listens to every word I say. Right? Right. Let’s go!

Clay Pigeons

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Clay (wee baby Joaquin Phoenix) is a small town auto mechanic who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, all the time. After he witnesses his best friend’s suicide, he befriends killer Lester (surprisingly fantastic Vince Vaughn), a charasmatic truck driver who’s drifting through town, and suddenly finds himself a suspect in a string of murders. Janeane Garofalo is in it, since it’s a late 90’s independent comedy. Of course, but she’s playing a surly FBI investigator, but she’s basically perfect.

The trailer is shit – but trust me, the movie is gold. It’s a who-dunnit crime comedy, and even though the plot is pretty transparent and predictable, the writing is amazing with a surprising amount of depth to the characters, and the performances are so damn good – I contend that it’s the best Vince Vaughn has ever been.

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My highschool boyfriend introduced me to this movie on one of those “let’s hang out and try to be friends even though it’s incredibly awkward because I broke your heart and you’ve been near suicidal for months” hang times (high school was hard, ok). I instantly hated him for showing me an amazing movie that I wanted to re-watch immediately, but couldn’t because it was connected to him (seriously, it’s hard to be 16). But the next morning I went out and bought a copy. It was worth the heart break.

Drop Dead Gorgeous

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Another late 90’s murder crime comedy – but this one’s set in Minnesota and everyone has the Minnesota Nice happening. It’s fantastic.

A documentary crew travels to Mt. Rose Minnesota to cover the town’s biggest event – the Sarah Rose Cosmetics Teen Princess beauty pageant. This year’s top contestants are the Evil Daughter of the Richest Family in Town, Becky (Denise “Only One Without an Accent” Richards) and the Sweet Girl from the Trailer Park with a Heart of Gold, Amber (Kirsten Dunst, preparing for her Fargo role). Becky’s over zealous mom/organiser of the pageant, Gladys (played to a T by Kirstie Alley), is determined to see her daughter win. And as contestants start dying in mysterious circumstances, Amber realises she’s the main target. Rut-roh.

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Michael Patrick Jann (The State) directs a perfectly drawn cast that’s chuck full of great ladies from the 90’s – including an up and coming Amy Adams, a hysterical Allison Janey, and still-super-cute-era Brittany Murphy. It has all the qualities of a great dark comedy: great writing, perfect timing, and dead-on mockumentary deadpan. I love it.

Film and Television

I don’t remember the first time I saw this – I think my parents brought it home from Blockbuster one night and we all thought it would be bad, but that’s what you get for assuming. After I moved to Sydney, I had an itch to watch it – and that itch lasted for almost 2 years, because you can’t stream it anywhere. And then I found it on SBS On-Demand. And there was much rejoicing (from me, not so much Joel, who isn’t in to crime comedy, just crime movies).

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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Hedwig was a boy from East Berlin who got a botched sex change operation in order to marry an American soldier. The soldier abandons her in Kansas with no money and no job. Hedwig meets and falls in love with Tommy, and they become a song writing duo, but Tommy ends up stealing her songs and making it big, leaving her in the dust. Hedwig shadows his national tour, playing shitty venues on the same night, trying to reclaim her piece of fame, but mostly, searching for love – her other half.

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I’ve blogged about this movie before, a few years ago. It’s perfect. It’s everything a rock musical should be – exciting, smart, fun, and emotional. I fell in love with it in the first few minutes, and it’s damn well a part of my soul now. Just watch it.

Fun fact: Heaps of famous people have donned the wig for Hedwig on and off broadway – including NPH himself.

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Flawless.

 

There you have it folks. Fire up your Amazon Prime or other probably cheaper and more accessible streaming services and get to it.

And let me know how much you love them, ok? Because you will.

xo

Things I love: The Silver Stallion

The Silver Stallion. 

The first time I saw it, I was 10 years old, at a slumber party with a couple of my friends. Before the party began, my mom took us all to Blockbuster Video to rent some movies – because staying up all night watching movies and eating junk food is the best part of being a kid. Or a 31 year old. Who’s counting. Anway.

My mom was very adamant about us only watching age appropriate movies – which really sucked when you were trying to be the coolest 10 year old in the room and your mom won’t let you rent Interview with the Vampire. My friends and I decided on a Japanese movie about giant, homicidal dinosaurs rising from the ocean to destroy Tokyo. I think it was called Dinosaur Land or something else equally irrelevant. I remember the cover was a hand drawn image of a platysaurus in the water, with a woman hanging out of its mouth, and Tokyo visible in the background. We are all super pumped.

Mom, however, showed us a movie called The Silver Stallion. And the collective womp womp womp was heard throughout the land. Who wanted to watch a movie about horsies? There were no Brad Pitt Vampires and no people eating dinosaurs and no curse words and no possibility of seeing Brad Pitt’s naked vampire butt. LAME. But mom insisted that we would love it, and we left Blockbuster both really excited and really bummed out.

Once everyone went to bed and we had the TV to ourselves, we put in the lame horse movie to get it over with. After a few minutes of hemming and hawwing and making fun of it, the room got quiet and we were glued to the screen. When it was over, we couldn’t stop chatting about it.

The gist: An Australian movie based on a popular children’s book, made in 1993. The plot is pretty simple: an author living in the bush is writing a story about the life of Thowra, an Australian wild horse, or “brumby”, and his rise to king of the brumbies while constantly outwitting the the Man in Black, who wanted to capture him. The author’s daughter reads along with the story, and falls in love with the wild horse. In a turn of events, the daughter finds out that Thowra is real, and is devastated to hear that the Man in Black has a fail-proof mission to finally capture the wild horse. The author and her daughter wait with baited breath to hear the final fate of Thowra and his reign as king of the brumbies.

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As the author narrates her story, the scenes are acted out by real horses in sequences shot amazingly in the mountains. Here’s a mash up of scenes put to the music from Requiem for a Dream, which kinda fits it perfectly (except there’s no heroin in The Silver Stallion. I mean, not that I know of)

 

It’s a dark, sad children’s story that is beautifully told – there are no silly horse voices or cheese ball animal/human friendship or “everyone is happy and learns a valuable lesson”ending. It makes you think of what separates a human from a villain. All in all, it’s just a good movie. Oh, and it stars a baby Russell Crowe as the wiley Man in Black.

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We put on Dinosaurs Eat People and barely paid attention to it, because it was super lame. There were no beautiful horses running free in the mountains, no dramatic horse fights, no crazy horse chases, no subtly dark story lines, and still no chance of naked Brad Pitt vampire butt – just badly clay animated dinosaurs and badly dubbed English lines and no gorey peple eating scenes. We didn’t even finish the movie before we put Silver Stallion on again.

And thus began the obsession. I convinced my friends to pretend to be the horses in the movie and we would run around the woods making up different Thowra stories. We would watch it whenever we got the chance (I begged my parents to rent it so often that 5 years later, when I started working at Blockbuster, the manager told me on my first day that she remembered me as “the silver stallion girl”), and it became a weird thing that bonded the three of us.

My sister Mary was always horse crazy while we were growing up, and I liked horses, but I was way more into dogs, orcas, tigers, and lions. However, once I watched this magically lame horsie movie, all I could think about were horses. I started tagging along with my dad and my sister to her horse back riding lessons, and became something of a barn rat. “Can I brush your horse?” “Can I walk your horse?” “Can I clean that stall?” “Can I do ANYTHING remotely related to being near a horse?” Eventually, I started taking riding lessons too, and that was it. I was hooked. My sister and I rode competitively and basically lived at the barn for years. And funny enough, we came to own a horse who’s name was Brumbie. Go figured.

I still have a huge fondness for the flick. I own a copy and I dust it off and watch it from time to time.And this morning when I woke up and Joel had already left for work and it was cold and pouring rain, I instantly felt like watching it. So I scoured the internet and vaguely considered trecking out to JB HiFi in the rain to buy it (movie obsession turns me into a driven lunatic bent on success) until I found it on Youtube because it’s so irrelevant that not even Amazon or iTunes will stream it.

From the title card, this movie always takes me back to being a 10 year old. It makes me think of my dream of spending my days riding my horse through the country side and spending my nights pounding out stories on a typewriter as I wear a big woolen sweater – and my vampire Brad Pitt husband brings me coffee. #dreams

My first thought was “wow, I guess I didn’t really achieve what 10 year old Audrey wanted.” But then I thought more about it, and I’m actually pretty close to this dream – I mean, I live in Australia now. And I still write (kinda), and I have a big sweat shirt and a much more handsome, much cooler, non-vampire, sexy man to bring me coffee. But I did think really hard about sending my mom $200 so she can mail me my typewriter. Annnnd I may have looked up how much horse back riding lessons cost around here. Spoiler alert – they’re expensive.

Here’s to nostalgia.  Brb, I’m going out to get a big wool sweater. And maybe a horse colouring book.

 

*fun fact, those same girls and I had another slumber party a few months later and we totally watched Interview with the Vampire. And I got in trouble. #worthit

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (only slightly spoiled)

I started getting excited for the new Star Wars sequel as soon as I heard it was green-lit. When I read an article that said Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt were writing, JJ Abrams was directing, and Adam Driver had been cast, I got even more excited, and I immediately implemented Media Black Out, wanting to be absolutely surprised by every element (I did this for Star Trek in 2008 and it was awesome). I made it absolutely spoiler free until the first week of December, when I was waiting for a bus to work, and said bus pulled up in front of me with a GIANT Force Awakens  movie poster on it. It just ratcheted up my excitement about 800 levels.

We didn’t make plans for opening night, because we were both working the next day, but Joel planned a big night out for us last night. Nice burgers for dinner, and a 9:30 showing in the Gold Class theater. So yeah, I was pretty damn excited.

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I miss the days of real ticket stubs

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First, nothing makes a movie better than seeing it while sitting in a reclining lazy boy with the option to have food and drink served to you. The theater was small and polite, so much so that I had to corral my urge to clap and cheer whenever something awesome happened.

Second, I didn’t like the movie nearly as much as I thought I would. It was awesome to look at, and I was never bored, but I left the theater feeling a bit underwhelmed.

I should say that while I love Star Wars, I’m not a die-hard know it all. So maybe my critique is mis-guided. I love Star Wars because I love listening to the story, and all the background stories that are told throughout the episodes. It’s the narrative that gets me excited more than anything. Yes, George Lucas writes terrible dialogue, but he’s made a captivating universe and some badass characters. And while this movie was really awesome to look at, and there were plenty of funny parts and YES!! parts, the story as a whole felt lacking, like it was rushed. Characters were introduced but not much else happened. And there was so much story to play off of! The empire rose again after it was defeated without explanation. A whole new generation of Jedi was massacred by Han Solo’s son and only one line of dialogue was devoted to it. Rey’s past was shown as one shot in a rapid fire flashback. Who the fuck was the 50 foot tall holographic Voldemort Supreme Being?

I think I just expected a different movie. Maybe I was thinking it would pick up closer to the end of Jedi, with Leia and Han and their children, and the unrest growing within the new republic. Something closer to what was described in the opening credits. Basically, the fall of the rebellion, massacre of new Jedi and the rise of this new dark side would have been a lot more exciting to watch, even if it does sound similar to the plot of Episode III. But it’s not like this movie didn’t recycle some story lines – another Death Star? What, 3rd time’s a charm? Another brother and sister who were separated and hidden so no one would hunt them down and one of them doesn’t realise they have Jedi powers? With all that’s happened in the extended universe, I’m surprised the writers took an easy route.

Who knows, maybe it’ll all be explained in episode 8.

And I’ll be there to watch it, in my giant lazy boy.