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

17 Movies that Broke My Life

This morning, my mom tagged me in a buzzfeed post about 27 movies that will ruin your life. I agreed with most of the list, and even had some of the same experiences as some of the contributors. But it got me thinking… movies have ruined my life. I’ve been scared out of my mind, emotionally damaged, and scarred for life. I’m 31 years old, and these movies still get me unwound.

  1. Child’s Play – When I was 8, my brother Josh’s friend gave him a tape with all 3 Child’s Play movies recorded on it. I wanted to watch it, because I wanted to do everything my brother did, but my mom said I was too young and Josh said I couldn’t hang out with him and his friends anyway. So, being the determined youth that I was, I snuck the tape out of the house and over to my friend Jamie’s, where we watched all 3 movies in a row without her parents knowing. Bad Idea. From the second I got home, I put all my dolls under my bed, including the very expensive toddler sized doll I had spent months begging my parents for. Then I got I scared that the dolls would come after me, so I put them all up on my dresser so I could see when they would attack. My mom wanted to send the dolls to my cousins, but I told her no, because I was sure the doll would kill the post man, find its way back to my house, climb up the car port, come through my window, and kill me. So I just treated it very respectfully, and slept with my light on for 4 years, keeping an eye on it. No one could convince me that the doll wasn’t going to come to life and murder me. And to this day, I can’t sleep in a room if there’s a doll in it. And being chased by Chucky is my #1 recurring nightmare*.
  2. Trilogy of Terror – Also when I was 7 or 8, Josh had a “scary movie birthday party”, and all his friends slept over while they had a horror movie marathon. I wasn’t allowed downstairs (Oh the injustices served to me as a child), but I did sneak down a little to see what was happening. They were watching Trilogy of Terror, the vignette with the voo-doo doll. The moment that I snuck down, there was a scene with a guy in a bathroom. He was standing in front of a drawn shower curtain. IN A SECOND the shower curtain was drawn back and a voodoo doll jumped out and stabbed the guy to death. I ran back to my room, shaking. And I was about 18 before I could use a bathroom without drawing the shower curtain back first to check for voo-doo dolls.
  3. Psycho – When I was 10, I watched a documentary on Psycho. I didn’t watch the movie itself. But I loved learning about crazy people, and I wanted to know just how crazy Norman Bates was. And then they came to the shower scene. They showed the whole thing. For the next year, I would only take baths, not showers. And even then, I refused to take showers unless there was a see-through shower curtain. I won’t take a shower if I’m in a hotel room by myself. Two years ago, when I moved into the condo, I had to get a clear shower curtain because I was too scared someone would come in and stab me.

    This Bloom County comic kept me awake at night.
  4. Garfield Halloween – omg. When we lived in Germany, my parents would tape American cartoons for us off the Armed Forces Network. And one tape we had was full of Garfield cartoon specials. Garfield on the Town was followed by Garfield Halloween. But, because they were home recorded, Garfield on the Town‘s end credits were abruptly cut off with the opening for Garfield Halloween, and the opening for Garfield Halloween was an extreme close up of Binky the Clown screaming “HEEEEEEEY KIDDDDDDDDDS!” It was so startling to go from happy credits to GIANT SCREAMING CLOWN FACE. If I’m in a dark room by myself and I think about it, I feel terrified – to this day. Also, I don’t know what the producers were thinking, but the old man telling the story of the pirates was creepy as fuck. And the pirates were pretty scary. That whole thing wasn’t for children. And for YEARS, I wouldn’t sleep with my back to the open room because I had a nightmare that Garfield and the ghost pirates were sneaking up on me.
  5. It – Is there anyone in my generation and every generation proceeding that isn’t traumatized by It? I also read the book when I was 10 (behind my mom’s back, of course), and I was more scared because in the book, It tried to rape Bevy. So while I was scared of clowns before I saw It (thanks to Garfield Halloween), because they were loud and scary, It just added a whole new level of rapey-gonna-eat-you fear. I will never shower in a group shower situation and I always tip toe around storm drains because of that movie. Ughhhh.
  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street – When I was really little, I caught about 5 minutes of “Freddy’s Nightmares“, the series that Freddy had on MTV where he introduced music videos and they showed clips from the movies. Freddy was sitting on a stool in the boiler room, all Freddied out, and he introduced a clip from the first movie – where Johnny Depp gets sucked into the bed. I was too scared to sleep in a big bed by myself for years after that. Also, pretty sure that Freddy is the scariest movie villain. The 3rd movie scares me to this day.
  7. 2001: A Space Odyssey – yeah. I can’t watch Dave’s final two sequences if I’m by myself. And I’m pretty sure that the star child is the most unsettling image I’ve ever seen. Even hearing the orchestration makes me scared. Also, the humans in monkey suits are creepy. And the Swedish choir with their shrill and guttural cries that sounds like what I imagine is what you hear when you’re in purgatory. *shudder*
  8. Pet Semetary – Because of Gage under the bed, I get in and out of bed as quickly as possible. No lingering with my feet hanging over the edge, either. Nuuuuuupe. And the demented sister? YIKES.
  9. Poltergeist – I can’t be in the same room if there’s a TV on a static channel. It scares the shit out of me.
  10. The Exorcist – If I’m in a strange bed, or feeling uneasy in a room, I’ll think of Regan on the shaking bed, and I won’t be able to sleep. When I moved into the condo, I posted a picture of my first night in. I was so jazzed to be on my own and to spend the night all by myself, unpacking and arranging. And then my friend Paul said “That looks like the stairwell from the exorcist.” And he posted a clip of Regan’s spider walk. And in that split instant my mood changed from “YAY NEW HOUSE” to “I’m going to die here.” And for the next two months, I swore I heard “rats” in the ceiling, saw that weird ghost face (that they added to the re-mastered edition) in the windows at night, and just about pooped myself whenever I saw Bill Purray staring off intently at NOTHING. And for the record, I don’t think I’ve seen anything scarier than Regan’s spider walk down the stairs. Just thinking about it makes me uncomfortable.
  11. Ghostbusters – The opening sequence. NOOOOOPE. And the face on the Stay Puft Marshmallow man? So scary. My parents had Ghostbusters taped onto an audio cassette, and we’d “listen” to the movie on road trips. You know what’s actually pretty scary? The soundtrack to Ghostbusters. Especially when the ghosts are released and the ground starts to break apart and later when Stay Puft is screaming. Creepy.

Somewhere along the way, I grew up and movies stopped scaring me. And that was a bummer. But to fill that hole of emotional scarring, I started to become a mess whenever there was a slightly sad or moving tone. I used to make fun of my mom for crying at everything. Now, I cry at everything. But these movies hit me right in the feels.

  1. She’s Having a Baby – During the climax, Kevin Bacon’s character has a montage of memories while his wife is having an emergency c-section, and he gets so flustered because he’s finally realising how his life is going to change and he hasn’t wanted it before but now he doesn’t want to lose it and he looks up into the light and chokes back tears right as the song crescendos. Shit. I lose it. And the montage is set to the music of “This woman’s work,” and it breaks me down to sobs whenever I watch it. Sobs. Hysterical sobs and ugly crying. Guaranteed.
  2. Lost in Translation – The end… when Bill Murray is whispering into Scarlett Johanson’s ear and you never find out what he says, but she’s tearing up, and he’s softly touching her and… oh man. The affection and the loneliness is palpable. It cuts me open.
  3. Philadelphia – it’s hard to find a scene in this movie that doesn’t rip my heart out. But when Tom Hanks leaves Denzel’s office and he knows he’s run out of options, and he’s just staring into the street with that pained look, somewhere between “what do I do now” and utter tears, and Bruce Springsteen is playing. It’s so sad. I really just sit through Philadelphia and just cry. It’s a great movie to watch if you’re stuffed up and need to blow your nose a lot.
  4. The Land Before Time – When Littlefoot’s mother dies, it feels like my mom has died. And all those baby dinosaurs clinging together because they don’t have families… I’m a mess for hours after watching it.
  5. Home Alone – when Kevin realises he misses his family, and his mom is missing him. Sad tears. And at the end, when they’re all reunited! Happy Tears. All the tears. Hearing that soundtrack makes my heart swell.
  6. Forrest Gump – “I miss you Jenny. If there’s anything you need, I won’t be far away.” Just typing that made me cry.

So now I’m off to watch Dance Moms and Teen Mom ad nasueum because this list is making me cry and making me scared to be home alone.