Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hey, That's My Bike.

Once upon a time I loved Before Sunrise. I saw this movie -- about an American backpacker and a French student passing a night in Vienna -- in 1996, weeks before embarking on my own European backpacking adventure. For obvious reasons, it really resonated with me. That was going to be me! Having deep conversations about deep philosophical questions with exotically-accented EUROPEANS in pretty European places!

Today I'm not even slightly tempted to watch Before Sunrise, or it's 2004 sequel Before Sunset. I know that the movie belongs to an era, and a mindset that has long since passed for me.

There are some movies and books that you must see at certain phases of your life or you'll never understand their appeal. Today a movie wherein nothing happens, and people just talk about their feelings and thoughts and opinions will not engross me. It'll annoy me.

In high school I owned lots of jewellery, loved shoulder pads, sewed my own clothes, bought men's blazers, wore wacky hats, and was frequently accused of being a Molly Ringwald wannabe. But I didn't see any of her movies until  I was in my late twenties, at least ten years too late.

I don't get Pretty in Pink. Did the poor kids in your high school drive cars? In my school, the only kids with cars were the ones whose rich, divorced fathers were trying to buy their affection. I enjoyed the The Breakfast Club once I stopped obsessing over the title. Why do the kids call themselves The Breakfast Club. No one eats breakfast. But they do eat lunch.  No one even references breakfast. Is it suppose to be a play on words? Are they breaking fast from their cliques?

I watched Grease for the first time three or four years ago. The way my peers revere this film, meant I had high expectation. Understandably, I was disappointed. But I can see how it would be kitschy fun to watch this movie as a teenager at a slumber party.

Dirty Dancing isn't -- as I'd long assume -- a story about an impressionable young woman and her statutory rapist. Was I the only person who watched this as a teenager and was horrified that Baby was dating a guy in his mid-thirties? Evidently the movie suffered from bad casting, and I suffered from an inability to suspend my disbelief.

Am I coming across as a pretentious douche who is criticizing the films you love? Does it help if I confess to you some of the movies that I once loved, but now find trite? Here's a partial list:

Singles: I went to the premiere of this movie. Well, the Edmonton premiere. But still. It was exciting. Just looking at the poster makes me all nostalgic for the days of wearing wide-brimmed hats, black tights, work boots, cut offs and flannel shirts. At the same time! While I worked at coffee house. I over identified with every character in this film. What was it about, you might ask. I have no FREAKIN' clue. But there's something about a giving your lover a garage door opener...

Reality Bites: I use to fancy I was quite a bit like Lelaina, the Winona Ryder character. Did you? What? NO! It was just me? Just like her, I wanted to meet a slacker like Troy, so I could change him. But only because he wanted to be changed! He was a slacker who -- with the love of a good, slightly judgmental woman -- would be a non-slacker. Slackerdom, it's like a siren song to women of a particular age. I'm so glad I grew up.

The English Patient: I saw this movie three times. IN THE THEATRE! Because I evidently enjoyed spending money to watch selfish people engage in a needlessly-complicated, emotionally-charged, depraved relationship.  I still love Ondaatje's more-nuanced, non-linear book, but I'm boggled by how much I loved this film as a 23 year old.

Dying Young: Falling in love with a terminally ill rich dude is a very noble thing to do. As you can infer from the title, this film doesn't have a happily ever after ending. In my early 20s, I loved unhappy endings. Happy endings were for the middle class.

Also of note: this movie was the first time I saw a young beautiful woman with a tattoo (on the back of Julia Roberts' character). Prior to this I'd only seen tattoos on the forearms of my friends' dads. Remember the good old days when hardly anyone had tattoos and you could tell whose father you should NEVER accept a ride from based on the presence of tattoos? "Oh, thanks Allie's dad. But you and your crudely rendered Betty Boop tattoo can just remain seated on the chesterfield. I called my non-tattooed dad and he'll come pick me up."

Want to join me on this celluloid trip down memory lane? Are there films you once loved, but now you can't bear to watch even when they come on the television late at night? Is it too late for me to watch that movie with John Cusack where he holds the boom box over his head in the pouring rain? Does the movie have a plot, or does the previous sentence sum up the entire film?


  1. LOL! You crack me up! I just love the movie about "an impressionable young woman and her statutory rapist".

    I used to watch Footloose over and over again. What was wrong with me?

  2. Grew up strict Baptist. I have not seen even one of those movies you referenced. I like movies, bur there are almost none I would watch over and over.

  3. Ha! "Happy endings were for the middle class." Exactly my thinking in my 20s too!

  4. How much time do you have? I'm about to leave the world's longest comment. Go and see Say Anything (John Cusack with boom box standing in the rain). I don't know if you'll love it or not, but I SURE DID. At least watch it for the scene at the high school graduation where this guy sings the worst rendition of the Greatest Love of All (they can't take away MY DIGNITY).

    The Breakfast Club. Don't know why it's called that but I loved that movie. I had such a crush on the bad boy but I identified with a morph of the nerdy Anthony Michael Hall and the Molly Ringwald character (I was a bit - BIT - of a princess in high school).

    Grease is only meant to me a kitchy fun movie with catchy lyrics. Who would ever believe those people were supposed to be in high school? Sheesh.

    The English Patient, I saw in the theatre with my husband who wasn't even my BOYFRIEND then. I was dating someone else and I went to the movies with some other guy. I still love that movie although my husband - and a couple of other guys that I saw that movie with, I'm not kidding - thought it pretentious. My husband and I started dating almost a year after we saw that movie as platonic friends. This has nothing to do with the actual movie. But Ralph Fiennes? "I have been walking. FOR THREE DAYS." Also, I think it's Marilyn over at A Lot of Loves, she has a relative who was the guy at the end dancing around who gets blown up by a bomb.

    And...a note about tattoos. I dislike tattoos. I think they look trashy. But in the yoga world, everyone has many many tattoos. Since I see these people very scantily clad, I am constantly looking at their crazy tattoos. Like full-body tattoos of phoenixes.

  5. Oh! And I didn't comment about Dirty Dancing, which I have seen, for some reason, many times. No one puts Baby in the corner. I saw it first when I was about twelve, and so the whole backroom abortion thing completely eluded me. The thing that has always weirded me out about that movie other than the very young Baby going out with much older Johnny, is that I've Had the Time of My Life was such an obviously modern (mid-80s) song, when the rest of the music was from the early 60s. THAT'S DUMB.

  6. For all my overly-analytical reading habits, I am clueless and credulous when it comes to movies. I can never tell how old anyone is, in movies or real life, so I'm never aghast at age differences. I liked the Molly Ringwald movies when I saw them (very of their time, I agree). The only movie I've ever really watched over and over (which my husband when he was my boyfriend scored big points with by finding and buying me a VHS COPY) was Room With a View. But for movies that I always end up watching when they're on TV, which they are frequently (no, not the Planet of the Apes trilogy, that would be my husband) it's Gattaca - I like the story, I like the characters, and it strangely doesn't seem to become dated.

  7. Oh, and I would say go ahead and watch Say Anything too - it's cute, and it reminds me of the days when John Cusack was untainted by Pushing Tin and 2012.

  8. I loved Dirty Dancing as a kid (the movie...) and liked to pretend that my family would also be traveling to a fabulous mountain camp vacation. Then watched it recently as the mom of a daughter and felt differently about it. You have to pretend that Johnny is a twenty something who just couldn't afford college. Still creepy, but less rapey.

    I find a lot of movies I LOVED as a teen and twenty-something have lost their appeal. Grease being one of them (I've seen it dozens of times!) Maybe it seems strange because now they seem my age while I watch it (in their 30's?!) and when I watched them as a kid, they just seemed older and cool. I have never seen all of Say Anything. Have never watched the English Patient. Or Singles.

  9. I loved the book the English Patient but was shocked how much I hated the movie. So many of my friends had loved it that I almost didn't trust my own reaction. I sat there thinking, "could I actually not be liking this? But I loved the book--how could I not be liking this? Wow...I actually think I'm really hating this."

    The funny thing is that I suspect I would like the film better now. I think I'd be a whole lot less judgmental of the characters now than I was in my mid-20's.

    There was Whit Stillman movie called Metropolitan that I absolutely adored when I was younger. I remember sharing it with a friend whose reaction was, "meh" and I was so disappointed. I haven't seen it in years...wonder what I would think of it now?

  10. I am a total sucker for the movies of my youth! They bring me right back to that moment in time and most of the time I can't imagine what I was so in love with, but at the time I was smitten.

  11. I watched Say Anything too late and yeah, if you've missed that window it's nothing. I agree that certain movies must be watched at a certain time or they will disappoint. However, I still adore Better Off Dead and always will :) Sorry I blew up your mom, Ricky.

  12. Apologies for the previous comment, my account was hacked by a bot!

    This is what I meant to write:

    There's a neat story in one of Roger Ebert's books about the storyline from the film coming to life. I wrote about it here: