Sunday, May 22, 2005

Film meme

Cheryl has tagged me with the film meme. Thank you, Cheryl. (I think.)

Total number of films I own on DVD/Video:

I can't tell you that because I don't know. I have at least a hundred, but I've probably seen about fifteen of them. I keep meaning to watch them and don't. Most of them are non-English films because I buy them when I'm out of Japan in order to be able to watch movies in languages other than English. Here they are not sold with English subtitles.

But I almost never watch films. Or TV, for that matter. It's just not something I've ended up doing. My friends have seen more of my movies than I have because I'm always lending them to people. This is also why I can't count them - I lend ten or fifteen at a time, and then can't remember who I lent them to or what they are or how many I've lent. But there are at least one hundred in the house right now.

The last film I bought:

I have a DVD of The Fabulous Baker Boys sitting right here in front of me, but I didn't buy it so I suppose that doesn't count. It was given to me on Friday by a colleague, who was given it by somebody else but then discovered he had a copy already. He said it's pretty good. It will probably join my collection of films I've never watched.

What did I buy last, though? I think that was probably Life of Brian, which I spotted on my last day in KL last year. I did watch that one (again). It was fun. But I bought several on that shopping spree. Looking at my folder of DVDs, I imagine the ones at the front are probably the ones I bought at the same time. There is A Tale of Two Sisters, which a Japanese friend tells me is very good. She wants me to watch it so I can explain the story to her properly. She said she couldn't watch it again by herself - she watched it with a friend the first time, but it is too scary to watch alone. Next is Whale Rider, which I'm ashamed to admit I still haven't seen. Then there is Madame Sata and The Lover. I haven't watched them, either.

The last film I watched:

One I actually watched? I guess that was A Slight Case of Murder. I enjoyed it a lot. William Macy is GOOD. The Man doesn't usually like the movies I buy, but when I asked him to make a VCR copy of this one for me (to give a friend, who doesn't have a DVD player) he did, and checked the copy very carefully, I discovered.

"Did it copy all right?" I asked him, and he said it did.

"The main character looks like your older brother," he told me. "But slightly better looking."

"Oh, you noticed that, too!" I said. "Didn't you love the way he keeps talking to the camera, sort of like he's telling you secrets...?"

"I didn't watch the whole thing," said The Man. "But he's not talking to the camera. He's talking to YOU."

"Well, yes," I said. "And you keep wanting to talk back when he's about to do something you just know won't work..."

"But it always SEEMS like it's going to work," said The Man. "And sometimes it does."

I stared at him.

"How much of the film did you actually watch?" I asked.

"Well, you know, I just checked it here and there to make sure it had taped all right," lied The Man, then added, more honestly, "It took longer than I expected."

After discussing the film a bit more I came to the conclusion that maybe he didn't lie. Maybe there was ten seconds or so somewhere that he didn't watch.

Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me:

Obviously I can't write about films I watch a lot because I don't watch films a lot.


A long time ago I saw a movie with my youngest brother, in NZ. It was a French film called Charles et Lucie. My brother was visiting me, and a bunch of friends invited us along to see it with them. I don't know how old my brother was at the time, but I seem to remember he had to lie about his age to get into the cinema. None of us knew anything about the film, and I was worried that it would not be my brother's cup of tea. When I hear 'French film' I think 'arty,' and it was being shown in an arty cinema. My brother is not the arty type. I was nervous about this. Actually, I worried that he would embarrass me in front of my friends. I was trying to be normal, if you remember, and I suspected that he was going to blow my cover.

So when my brother, who is possibly the most unsophisticated person you could ever meet, started giggling, a few minutes into the film, my anxiety increased. He was hushed furiously by a couple of sophisticated foreign film connoisseurs with tears in their eyes who were trying to get their fix of meaningful tragedy for the week, and there were angry glares from all over. It was embarrassing, all right. All my worst fears were confirmed. The whole terrible tragedy of this film was making my little brother crack up, and he couldn't stop. Every time something newly awful happened he moaned, "Oh nooooo..." and folded up with uncontrollable laughter.

But I had to admit (to myself) I was finding the film pretty funny myself. I squirmed with embarrassment as I tried to reconcile the fact that nobody else was laughing with the fact that the film was so damned hilarious. To me it was awful confirmation that my family was weird and deranged and wrong and we could never, never, never be normal, because we didn't see the way normal people saw, and other people's tragedies made us want to laugh uncontrollably. I was mortified in the way only a uptight and socially conscious prig can be.

But the wonderful thing about this whole experience was that my brother was practically rolling in the aisle already when everybody else in the audience started figuring out the film was SUPPOSED to be funny. Oh, the relief when the rest of the audience started joining in, and I could, too!

I don't remember the story of this film well, but it starts off with a middle-aged, endearing, and rather disreputable couple of junk sellers winning a lottery. They have the most fantastic luck, winning a flash car and a beautiful big house in the country. They look like they're heading for a lifestyle way beyond anything they've ever dreamed of.

They get rid of all their old, broken down possessions, have a farewell party, go off in their lovely new car, and this is where their luck turns. On the way to the new house they stop at a restaurant. While they are eating they see through the window that the police are checking out their new car. The car turns out to be a stolen car, and of course this makes them fairly sure that the house is not theirs, either. They decide to check it out anyway, just in case there was some mistake, and ... things go downhill from there. Their luck gets worse and worse, until they are dodging the police AND some shady underworld gang. Drugs come into it somewhere.

But when the film starts you think it's going to be a heartwarming story of people overcoming adversity. My brother was the only one to laugh after the second or third awful thing to happen. Tragedy is piled upon tragedy until it becomes funny. And then when you think things HAVE to improve now; they can hardly get any worse, the hapless couple somehow manage to lose even their clothes. In an army bombing range. During a practice bombing session. In the middle of the night. IN THE RAIN. My brother almost wet his pants he laughed so much, but by that stage he was no longer the only one laughing and nobody was hushing him.

I have no idea if this movie is as good as I remember it being, or whether it was just my brother's uninhibited and honest response to it (as opposed to my inhibited and dishonest response) that makes me remember it so fondly. I'm not even sure that I'm remembering the story correctly. I'd love to see it again, but maybe it would spoil the memory.

Another film I love is Local Hero. I've probably seen it five or six times, but I don't actually have it.

Also memorable is Bliss - another quite old one. It's a strange film. The book is wonderful, too. (Peter Carey.)

I also have a wonderful memory of Some Like it Hot, which I saw in a small theatre that showed only old films. I was SO surprised when the audience started saying the lines before the characters did. I think that was the first time I realised that there are fans and there are FAAAAANS.

Oh, and a neighbour, when I was living in Dunedin (NZ), had a fabulous collection of old silent films, and lent them to the local museum one time for an old-fashioned film night. It was a unique film viewing experience. There was a lot more interest than they'd expected, so the room they were using was packed. We sat on uncomfortable wooden chairs that felt like school chairs and possibly were. There was a friendly, intimate atmosphere, because the room was too small, and total strangers were chatting before the films even started. They had a piano player, dressed up for the occasion. They had an old projector that broke down several times. The audience was primed right from the beginning, and several people really did fall off their inadequate chairs, laughing too much. There was wild and enthusiastic applause after each film, and a lot of shouted commentary. The piano player wore her fingers out. We saw a lot of Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd films and a whole bunch of other less well-known silent films. Nobody wanted to go home. It was brilliant.

Tag five people and have them put this in their journal:

I tag Ms Mac, Pimme, Ms Vile File, Paula, and SheWeevil (in the hopes that it will take her mind off her Finger Trouble, at least temporarily).


Ms Mac said...

Mine is done. And not by AutoBlogger, I might add!

She Weevil said...

With regard to Local hero - look at my blog.