Friday, May 13, 2011

My “Movie”

“What’s your movie?” That’s the way he first asked the question. Or at least that’s the way I first heard it. I was standing in the living room of Keith Uhlich, editor of The House Next Door, and his partner of 10 years, Dan Callahan. More specifically, I was standing in a circle with Odie Henderson, Sheila O’Malley, Steven Santos and Steven Boone, each of them bloggers in their own right who, at one time or another, in one way or another, also contributed to The House Next Door. We’d been standing in that circle for a while at that point, just one of many conversational shapes that formed over the course of that afternoon, evening and night. I couldn’t tell you what time it was, only that by that point I’d been upstairs and downstairs, in this corner and that one, with these fellow movie geeks and others, and it was dark outside. Many revelers had now been gone for as long as they’d attended. A few who remained were quite drunk – just not anyone in this circle. No, when Steven Boone halted our mostly scattered chitchat to ask us a group question, he was stone cold sober, and so was I.

That’s why I’m surprised I didn’t immediately understand what Boone was getting at. His question sounded to me like a fairly banal “What’s your desert island movie?” sort of inquiry. I don’t pretend to know Boone all that well, but by that point of the night (and, heck, even before it began) I knew him well enough that it shouldn’t have taken retrospect to realize that Boone was the last guy to be interested in something so pedestrian. And yet the question went over my head, maybe because I stopped listening before he finished asking it. As the person immediately to Boone’s right, I was up first, and so I gave an answer that I’ve given many times before in similar situations: Rear Window. It’s one of my favorite fallbacks (along with On the Waterfront), not necessarily because it’s true but because it isn’t altogether untrue, and mostly because it’s a simple answer that always gets an understanding nod from the person who asked it, whether that person is a teenage blockbuster watcher who has only heard of Rear Window or a pretentious film snob who is likely to answer that question by mentioning the most unknown work of Norway’s best auteur. It’s a safe answer, and, not incidentally, a fairly accurate one – Rear Window is a movie I indeed love, admire and cherish. The problem is that Rear Window wasn’t the answer to Boone’s question. I just didn’t realize that yet.

The coin would drop a few seconds later, just after Odie, to my right, and thus second in the batting order, prompted Boone to clarify. What Boone really wanted to know might be better summarized this way: “What movie is you?” But even that’s oversimplified, because it could be misinterpreted as, “Which movie resembles your biography?” Boone’s intent was deeper than that. What he was getting at is which movie best reflects who we are and how we feel – which movie best reflects and touches our soul. Or something like that. The truth is, there was room for interpretation, but in that moment the four other people standing there knew right where Boone wanted us to go. If I remembered exactly how Boone rephrased his question, I’d quote it now, but to be honest I don’t think that would help. It was the way Boone asked the question that really resonated, at one point extending his arm and open hand into the center of the circle as if he was going to reach into our chests – because that’s where the answer was. Somewhere inside us.

This was profound stuff, but it sounded to me like an easier question to answer, because this was no longer an analytical exercise, nor was it a matter of taste. It was a question of the soul. The answer should have been right there, somewhere between the gut and the heart, just waiting to come out. With everyone on the same page, now all eyes shifted back to me so I could modify my response, but the answer didn’t come to me immediately, so I requested to go last. Odie was now up again and he answered quickly, so quickly that I almost didn’t hear him. Of course, that might be because in my own head a voice was screaming, “Fuck, what’s my answer?!”

So many different movies came to mind, each of them appropriate in their own way. Was my answer as simple as Star Wars, the movie that first made me love movies? Considering how much movies mean to me, that seemed a fair answer, but that wasn’t quite it. So, was it The New World, the Terrence Malick film that only a few days before had rendered me breathless yet again? Maybe, but somehow it didn’t feel personal enough – deeply moving but not me. So maybe my answer was something like Field of Dreams, a movie that taps into so many things that are essential to who I am, among them a love of my father and baseball and a belief in things magical. But, well, even that movie wasn’t quite right, because it’s about a guy trying to come to peace with a fractured relationship with his father, and my dad and I have never been estranged. So maybe my answer was something more obscure, something like My Life, a movie that I don’t regard as great but that has a strange power over me and a special place in my heart? I just didn’t know.

There were too many choices. I’d think of a film made within the past 10 years and it would seem too recent, as if by choosing it I would be suggesting that before that movie came along I had no cinematic soul. My selection had to come from early on, I decided. It had to be something that I loved now as much as when I discovered it, and something that shaped who I am and who I still want to be, and thus something that reflects why I fell in love with movies in the first place and why they cast such a spell on me. Instantly, a movie came to mind.

But I still wasn’t positive. And thankfully it wasn’t my turn. Shelia answered. Santos answered. Boone answered. I listened to them all. I won’t repeat their answers here because, as you might imagine, the “what” wasn’t the important part; it was the “why,” and I couldn’t do their descriptions justice. As my turn approached, I was leaning a certain direction, but my head was still swirling as to what I’d say. (“You’re thinking to much,” Odie told me. You think so?!) Thankfully, right about then, Kurt Osenlund came within reach. Kurt’s a Philadelphia-based critic planning to relocate to New York in the next few months. When the party started, I didn’t know him, but already we’d talked enough that he seemed like an old friend, especially now. I threw my arm around Kurt, invited him into the conversation and strategically put him to my left, buying myself a little more time. Kurt got brought up to speed and then, effortlessly, came up with an eloquently expressed answer. I might have hated him for that, except his answer unlocked mine. Kurt picked a miniseries, not a movie, and in doing so enabled me to broaden my options. Finally, I knew my answer. It was right there – right between my gut and my heart.

I didn’t pick a movie. I picked a TV show. Actually, I picked a specific episode of a TV show: the Harry Belafonte-hosted episode of The Muppet Show from Season 3. I picked it because, until Kurt broke away from the movie format, I was considering answering with The Muppet Movie. I picked it because I grew up on the Muppets as much as I grew up on Star Wars, and because today I love The Muppet Show in general, and that episode specifically, even more than when I first discovered it. I picked it because I think that no one acted alongside Muppets better than Belafonte. (“That’s a big statement,” Odie noted, as if I’d tripped his hyperbole alarm. But I stand by it.) I picked that episode because, as I was telling Boone and Santos earlier that night, the creature shops of Jim Henson and George Lucas were intrinsic to my early appreciation of cinema as imaginative craft. I picked that episode because it has two of the cutest sketches in the show’s history – the performance of “The Banana Boat Song” and the drum-off with Animal – and one of the most powerful, the closing number: “Turn the World Around.”

It’s that last number that really gets to me, and to respect its effect you have to realize a few things. First, you have to realize that, as far as I can tell, “Turn the World Around” is the only closing number in the history of The Muppet Show to play throughout the closing credits. One of the joys of The Muppet Show is that in the closing number the hosts always sang, from Linda Ronstadt to Sylvester Stallone. But those songs always ended before the credits, giving way to Kermit, who would take the stage, thank the host and kick it to the orchestra for the closing theme music, which always paused just long enough for those cherished final putdowns from Statler and Waldorf in the balcony. This episode is different. Belafonte sings “Turn the World Around,” accompanied by some African-themed Muppets, and then he’s joined on stage by the show’s recognizable cast of characters – Kermit, Fozzie, Rowlf, etc. – enthusiastically singing the chorus. Kermit thanks Belafonte, as usual, but the rest of them don’t stop singing. They keep singing all the way to the end, all the way to the shot of Statler and Waldorf in the balcony. Only this time there are no cutting remarks, because they’re singing, too.

In that respect alone, that performance is special. But there’s also this: Although Belafonte recorded the song on a 1977 album of same name, throughout the late ‘80s and ‘90s it was almost impossible to find. While “The Banana Boat Song” was Belafonte’s signature, “Turn the World Around” became iconic to The Muppet Show. When Jim Henson died in 1990, Belafonte performed the song at his memorial service, choking back tears. You can find the memorial service performance on YouTube, and the original episode, too. Of course you can. Today everything is on YouTube, or DVD, or iTunes, whatever. But for the longest time it wasn’t. For most of my life, my exposure to The Muppet Show came in precious glimpses, stumbling upon it on some buried cable station at some obscure time, often there for a month or two and then gone just as quickly. But over the years I never forgot that song, that episode, that performance. It was always right there, right between my gut and my heart.

On February 9, 1995, I saw Belafonte in concert. I remember the date because it was my 18th birthday. On that day, that exact day, Belafonte was in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon – population of less than 140,000. It seemed too good to be true, even then. Now it seems like a dream. My mom bought the tickets as a gift (I'll always love her for that). My girlfriend went with me. I went to hear one song: “Turn the World Around.” I tried to avoid getting my hopes up, because it seemed impossible that Belafonte would perform a song I couldn’t find on any concert or greatest hits album, a song that seemed cherished by no one other than me. But I needed to hear it, as if it was a key to my childhood. No, more than that: a key to me.

“Turn the World Around” was the second song Belafonte performed that night. As soon as I heard the opening notes, I choked back tears. I basked in the glow of that song, still sure that no one in the audience appreciated it more than I did – positive that no one else thought Belafonte’s backup singers couldn’t stack up to a frog, bear, dog and whatever. Still, it was a thrill. Belafonte sang a song about the soul, and in doing so affirmed mine. (“Heart is of the river/Body is the mountain/Spirit is the sunlight/Turn the world around.”) It’s a song of hope. (“We are of the spirit/Truly of the spirit/Only can the spirit/Turn the world around.”) It’s a song of celebration. (“So is life!”) It’s a song that suggests that our truth is deep inside us, in that place the Muppets always sang from, in that place that my love for the Muppets and the movies sprang from, in that place the Steven Boone wanted us to look that night.

True, I didn’t answer Boone’s question. I didn’t pick a movie. And if I had to right now, I’m still not sure what I’d pick. But that’s a thought for another day. For now, I’m going with the Harry Belafonte episode of The Muppet Show.

Yeah, that’s me.

What movie is you?

Addendum: Sheila O'Malley also has written a post inspired by the conversation I described above. Read it here. It's a beautiful post about a beautiful conversation, and it strikes me now, having read it, that my selection actually reflects not just Steven's question but also the conversation itself. "Do you know who I am? Do I know who you are?" That's what Harry Belafonte sings about in that song, and that's precisely what we were exploring in that conversation, on a very personal level. Sheila notes, accurately, the lack of negativity or judgment in our conversation that night, and that makes me think of the end of that episode of The Muppet Show: "Turn the World Around" is the one song that even Statler and Waldorf couldn't resist. They opened themselves up to the magic. Sometimes it just happens.


FilmDr said...

I would say mine is The Last Seduction, in part because the movie exactly expresses how cold the world appears to me, and because I like Linda Fiorentino's attitude.

Sheila O'Malley said...

// It was the way Boone asked the question that really resonated, at one point extending his arm and open hand into the center of the circle as if he was going to reach into our chests – because that’s where the answer was. Somewhere inside us. //

Yes, that is just how he did it. Perfectly expressed.

I love to read your memory of this. I love to read the things I forgot (the Rear Window moment, for example) and also to hear you go into detail about the Harry Belafonte/Muppets combination.

It was a profound moment, one that will shimmer in my memory - one of those jewels that you want to "take with you" - and I'm so glad to hear your take on it.

Craig said...

I just wrote my answer to Jason via email and figure I may as well show some balls and do it here too: The Graduate. Not for the usual reasons. Not because it reflects "The 60s," because I wasn't even part of that era. Nor because I share any similar life experiences with the main character. It hits me because the movie itself is so perfectly aligned with the worldview of its main character, a worldview that is myopic and imperfect, yet fully realized and deeply felt in all its myopia and imperfection. There's a vulnerability to it -- a vulnerable masculinity, I just realized, maybe the opposite of what Steven S. meant about Raging Bull, I'm not sure -- that I responded to completely when I first saw the movie at 17, and it still touches that spot for me today.

That's the movie that is my heart. I'd go even further and say that's the movie in my DNA.

Donald said...

I read Jason's post just before Sheila's, and as I started hers I already had a lump in my throat. Now the tears are flowing freely; partly out of sadness for missing out on these wonderful moments (the color of jealousy in my world is blue), but mostly from the flood of emotions stirred up by the memories of so many movies, with so many moments that stirred my soul.

Thank you both for giving me this. Maybe someday I'll be able to share "my movie" with others. That'd be magical, wouldn't it?


roo said...

Jim Henson's creatures were immensely important to me as a child-- and continue to be as I age. "The Dark Crystal," in particular, shook me to the core. I found out everything I could about it-- behind the scenes films, books, the whole gamut.

The intersection between Henson and Froud was particularly significant for me-- he's an artist, along with Alan Lee, who manages to put pieces of my imagination out in the world for me to look at (as you might imagine, I have a particular love for TLOTR, as well-- the films, not the books.)

We're coming up on an anniversary of Henson's death-- In my memory, he died on my birthday, though in reality, I think it was the day after.

I'd always wanted to work with him. He was a hero.

Kevin J. Olson said...

This is wonderful, Jason. Thank you for sharing this.

Jason Bellamy said...

FilmDr and Craig: Thanks for playing! I hope some others are brave enough to give it a shot.

Donald: In person is better, of course, but you can share right here! Thanks much for the kind words. Obviously Sheila and I both felt an emotional connection to that conversation. I'm glad it translated.

Roo: Henson was a hero. Agreed. Boone and I talked about The Dark Crystal earlier that night. Like you, we were obsessed with it: both the film itself and how it was made. I watched it for the first time in ages last year, and this time I respected even more how bold it is. Some of the compositions are incredible, given the challenges of puppetry.

Kevin: Thanks, man. You'd have loved that conversation. What's your movie?

Bryce Wilson said...

Very nicely done Jason/

Albert Brooks in Broadcast News is the closest I've ever seen to myself on screen.

There's no movie I'll go to the mat harder for than Gangs Of New York.

There's no movie that makes me feel better about life than Kiki's Delivery Service.

And The Apartment is the quickest to warm my heart and bring a tear to my eye.

That's as close to a concise answer as I can come. Nice question please extend my complements to Mr. Callahan.

Steven Boone said...

I was 17 when Jim Henson died, and it was just as powerful a blow as if Steven Spielberg had passed away. It was definitely childhood's end. Like Spielberg, he helped put soul and love and imagination into my childhood. I had been determined to meet him just to thank him when I grew up.

The beautiful Belafonte clip you chose is why people love Henson: He and his people knew their audience was brand new to the world, and that every line of dialogue, every musical note, every transition (my God! that slow fade from Belafonte's glowing smile to the African puppets-- my heart skipped a beat) is an opportunity for rapture and delight. They remembered what it's like to see the world through innocent eyes, which spells out the difference between a wise, compassionate teacher and a business-like one.

The clip you chose is perfect. It's cinema to me. Anything that moves through time and space with such emotional intelligence and rhythm is cinema. Semantics aside, the performance shows me that you learned early in life something crucial to happiness: heaven is other people.

shane013a said...

Doctor Strangelove: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb!

No matter how secure I convince myself I know that one day I'm going to be trying to find a bunker!!

Marilyn said...

Jason - This post is beautiful. I was an adult when the Muppets came on the scene, and I don't think an adult can be touched so deeply as a child, but I certainly know how this must resonate with you. And the song, Harry Belafonte, the custom puppets for the song - fantastic!

I've had movies that were me at various stages of my life or who I thought I was. When I was getting divorced, two films really resonated with me deeply: Restoration and The House of Mirth. The former really tapped my sense of losing my sense of self. The latter is much more "me" because I identify with Lily Bart's inability to play the games that society sets up as a road to "success," and I have felt that I've been marginalized and rejected because of my attitude.

But the film I think really is me to the largest extent is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a film I've loved for a very, very long time. I am a creature of the sea; I need to be near water and could be happy just in its company. I'm a writer, though if I were braver, I'd do what Mrs. Muir did and let a force work through me to create a story. And I've been fine living alone (though I don't now). If I could have my idea life, it would be in a place like Gull Cottage overlooking the sea, living on dividends or royalties.

Jason Bellamy said...

This is a conversation that just keeps on giving ...

Bryce: Well done!

Steven: You know, I wrote this piece from memory. I didn't actually watch the clip again until after I published it. And I got to that first dissolve of Belafonte's face and I thought, "Yeah, this is cinema!" There's another great layered shot in there with the face of one of those African-masked characters over the top of Belafonte's drum. It conjures the image of some tribal celebration around a fire. Beautiful stuff.

Shane: It's terrific to see that range of movies that people feel that personal connection with. Thanks for playing!

Marilyn: Your description of those movies is a perfect example of how "our" movies capture who we are, giving tangibility to powerful but often buried emotions within us that are hard to express -- at least in daily live. Thanks for being so honest.

Keep 'em coming, folks!

Marilyn said...

Jason - This "game" actually was done as a blogathon. Here's my entry on Restoration:

Steven Boone said...

Jason, the last slow dissolve that took my breath away like the one in this Belafonte clip was the fade from a burst of fireworks to Beat Takeshi's awed, sad, dying wife looking up at it, in Hana-Bi.

I love it when storytelling tools invented for economy's sake, like dissolves, or even image artifacts like lens flares are used for spiritual effect by somebody who SEEES.

roo said...

I just wanted to add @ Marilyn--

"Restoration" was a very special film, that I think slipped under the radar for a lot of people. Maybe because at that point, Robert Downey Jr. hadn't come back from his public "fall from grace" for a lot of people.

I didn't understand it at the time-- particularly because, while I thought the acting was actually affecting, the art direction blew my mind. And, well, James Acheson is a costuming genius.

When I was a student, I wondered about the description of masques that I read in histories of Inigo Jones and the like. I think "Restoration" captured that for me-- made the images real.

odienator said...

I don't have anything else to add, except to say this is a beautifully rendered piece. I am happy to have been part of the discussion, and I'll always cherish the memory. Leave it to Boone to ask the right questions!

I'm interested to read that blogathon Marilyn mentioned. And for the curious, here is my writeup on the movie I chose in this conversation.

Edward Copeland said...

Bryce gave the same response that I was going to, because I can't think of a particular movie that I would say is me but as a movie character goes, Albert Brooks as Aaron Altman in Broadcast News is as close as a mirror to myself as I've ever seen on the screen.

Jason Bellamy said...

Marilyn, Ah, the "Self-Involvement Blogathon"! I contributed to that one, too. Actually, the link in the body of this piece, when I mention My Life, was my submission for that. Of course, I saw that blogathon as slightly more open, in that it asked for submissions on "the intersection of movies and life," which of course could be "your" movie.

Steven: "I love it when storytelling tools invented for economy's sake ..." It's also great when the trend becomes something profound, which is kind of what happens in the case of The Muppet Show. I mean, clearly those dissolves were thought-out: they evoke the sense of the song, that we are all one, and The Muppet Show was hardly heavy on dissolves. On the other hand, dissolves were oh-so-popular in musical performances back in that era. So it's a sign of the times, but it also works poetically in its own right, absolutely.

Odie: Thanks for adding that link. I'm going to read that, for sure.

Edward: Wow, two picks for Broadcast News! That's a movie I've managed never to see. I'm compelled now.

Again, keep 'em coming!

Steven Boone said...

Odie, I'm starting feel like Jasper Isley: Join the caravan of love, heheh. (Pleease don't post the video-- too saccharine for these proceedings.)

Yes, the minute you said Imitation of Life, my mind jumped to your essay, which is one of the best things you ever wrote. The part about "pulling the wings off movies" is exactly the point that we bond and fight over all the time.

Craig said...

If we're talking whom each of us most resembles, high school version, I'd have to go with Adam Goldberg's character in "Dazed & Confused." A physical resemblance. Big mouth inadvertently leading to bullying and intimidation. Standing up for oneself leading subsequently into getting one's ass kicked. Best friend gets the girl, then grows up to become that horrible actor in Rent. "I wanna dance!" I am not proud of this.

Edward Copeland said...

Broadcast News is very much worth your time Jason. In addition to his great TV contributions, James L. Brooks wrote and directed two great movies before his films took an inexplicable nose-dive into mediocrity. Of his two good ones, Broadcast News is the best. In fact, when I compiled my all-time top 100 back in 2007, it ended up at No. 54.

Sheila O'Malley said...

This is so great, loving all the responses!!

From the female side of things, if I had to pick a female representation of myself it would be a cross between Gena Rowlands in OPENING NIGHT (which I believe I have already covered!!) and Holly Hunter in BROADCAST NEWS (even down to my carefully-timed crying jags). Love to see that movie getting a bit of love and attention here.

Our conversation continues to be a goldmine.

Hokahey said...

Jason - This is a wonderfully touching post about a very touching song and visual moment.

Also, I'm enjoying the exchange here. I am also a very big fan of Restoration. I love its use of music from that era - and the scene in which Downey, Jr. and Meg Ryan dance around in the mud in the insane asylum is a scene that gets me every time! Funny, I was thinking recently of re-watching it.

What's "My 'Movie'"?

Well, it would have to be a Western. I grew up on Westerns.

It would have to have John Wayne in it. I grew up with John Wayne.

It would have to be lastingly touching. This one touched me when I first saw it at a young age, and it still touches me whenever I watch it.

But it would have to have a dark side to it because there's a dark, brooding side to me.

For me, that "Movie" is The Searchers. Definitely. I watch it three times a year - when I show it to three different sections of my history class - and sometimes I'll add another viewing by myself.

"Let's go home, Debbie." Gets me every time.

odienator said...

Albert Brooks got my relationship with my mother down pat in Mother, right down to using my last name. I'd say his Broadcast News character is close to who I am as well, but I really muddied the water on the question of movie characters representing me with this piece.

Jake said...

I think mine would be Chasing Amy, just because I saw it at the perfect time in my life, when I felt all the insecurities in Affleck's character as I was trying to get with someone out of my league (though not a lesbian). Even now, I think the film's big limitations -- and boy are there quite a few -- make it all that more personal for me. I don't agree with many fans who say that, gender identity gimmick aside, the film is an honest portrait of relationships. What it is is an honest attempt to figure relationships out, made by someone who wrote and directed the film to investigate his own hangups.

I prefer that. I like a film that's messy; it shows me someone grappling and admitting doubt instead of pontificating from a false sense of omniscience (pace Kubrick, Antonioni, etc.). I think that a lot of writers try too hard to find answers, a holdover from every English class where the most important aspect of any paper is the thesis statement, the point you want to make with the rest of the document. Hell, it applies to critics; what use is someone who cannot articulate what he or she finds good and bad, what touches and repels us emotionally and aesthetically? Chasing Amy has all kinds of pitfalls and immature moments, but by wrestling with them, Smith finds diamonds of truth in the rough.

For me, Jason Lee and Joey Adams own the movie because they're the ones who ultimately reveal all while Affleck's Holden embodies the film's occasionally stunted understanding. Lee plays basically the same character he did in Mallrats, but he's no longer funny and instead comes off as scared, lonely and confused. Adams, on the other hand, is an extension of Veroinca from Clerks, a woman who can actually dictate her part of a relationship and doesn't just be with someone because he loves her (I thought it was revealing how many people, men and women, flat out called Zooey Deschanel a "bitch" in 500 Days of Summer for not being with JGL, as if he'd "earned" her).

I don't think Smith ever equaled himself, though he came very close with Clerks II, which is a film that, if CA speaks to my fears now, speaks to my fears for myself 10-15 years in the future. And it's a shame that he's cruising on this Stoner Zen horseshit at the moment and acting like he's found the pure solution to life because films like these, despite and because of their flaws, just hit me like few other movies. So, I feel like Chasing Amy might be a clichéd answer for people in and about my age group, but it is always the film that leaps to mind when anything approaching this kind of question is asked.

Kurtis O said...

You are a damn fine essayist, my friend, and I hung on every vivid word of this poignant post -- straight from the heart and the gut. I love how well you were able to recall that part of the night, and elaborate on the particulars of "your movie." This is inspirational stuff -- I'm going to have to sit down and dig into "my movie," exploring how "I love it now as much as when I discovered it, and how it shaped who I am and who I still want to be," as you say. I'm thrilled to have been included here, and I was, of course, thrilled to meet you.

Jason Bellamy said...

So I guess I need to see Broadcast News, like immediately. I wonder if I can work that in this week? Also, all this talk of Restoration has me wanting to finally see that one, too.

Other thoughts ...

* Hokahey & Jake: I love how The Searchers and Chasing Amy can follow one another in an exercise like this. Such different films, but personal just the same, in part, it seems, because of the point of life in which you encountered them. Great stuff. (And, Jake, although all of Smith's films are fuzzy in my memory, I very much enjoyed reading your description of Chasing Amy's power over you. You brought its effect to life.)

* Kurt: Thanks! I'd love to see a post on your movie. Write it up!

* Anyone else?

jake said...

Damn, every time I come back to your blog I feel so great about it - wonderful post for so many reasons:

1) I just got done with, like, 28 Hitchcock movies in a row, and although I'd seen it long ago, "Rear Window" would have to be my favorite, and upon this most recent viewing was skyrocketed up into my top 10 films of all time.

2) Born in the late 70's, Henson and his work were HUGE for me and my siblings - still remember when he died, my mom was really bummed and tried her best to explain it to us (we were 12 and younger). I understand what you mean about Muppets stuff being a part of you, it almost goes without saying - this post reminded me how important and ingrained Henson is to me.

3) "Trainspotting" would have to be my answer to your post. At least right this moment. I don't think it's the greatest movie ever made, it just had such a huge impact on me when I first saw it - one of the first films I remember viewing (as a young adult and not a child) that made me aware of how movies can be artful and provocative and more than just straight entertainment.

Thanks so much for your great posts!

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Edward, Shelia and Odienator: Great minds etc. etc. And yes Jason I'd say it's safe to say you'd enjoy Brook's film immensely.

I'd say more about my relationship to the films and the (at times unfortunate) parallels it's had with my life, but I'd hate to spoil a first time viewing.

Kevin J. Olson said...

I wasn't ignoring you, Jason, I promise. The recent post at my blog may answer your question. But even then, I don't know if that really gets at it. I'd have to think about it a little more. I'll get back to ya.

Jason Bellamy said...

Circling back on some replies, and with an update:

Jake: Yeah, Rear Window isn't "my movie," but one of the all-time bests? Without fucking question! And Trainspotting is one I need to see again, particularly to try to figure out what I think about Danny Boyle.

Bryce: So I watched Broadcast News. It's very '80s (the piano score, Jeff Daniels as a sex figure, the reunion-esque finish ...) but it holds up pretty well. The TV news scenes are tremendous, both the triumph and the disaster. I've never been much of an Albert Brooks fan, but what I love about the treatment of that character is that he's both the all-brains-but-no-beauty lovable loser and an insecure, arrogant dick. I can sure see why people would identify with him, because we've all been there when we were the only sane one in the room, or when even the smart girl fell for the vapid dude with looks, or when our opportunity to break out blew up in our face. There's a lot there to connect with. I'm grateful to all the comments to pointing me to it. (And I plan to watch a bunch of the films mentioned here.)

Kevin: Somehow I knew it was 8 1/2.

Anonymous said...

Hey J,
I had quite a bit of trouble with this question. I cant believe you came up with an answer on the spot. I had to sleep on it a bit. At first I tried to answer the question as “Which movie resembles your biography?" I was happy to re-read your post to find that the question was quite different and it led me to the answer. The question is not who you are, nor is it who do you want to be, the question is: which movie most accurately portrays how you feel about the world. I think my answer is Cashback by Sean Ellis. Though it is not all-encompassing it does speak to the human experiences of love and sex. Cashback comes very close to speaking directly to me, on all marks: The sprouting sexuality in childhood; The awe one feels when marveling at the female form; the heartbreak, insomnia, and restlessness over a breakup (no matter how bad the relationship was); and finally the promise of real and lasting love built on respect and trust.
Im not sure if anyone else watched this movie and had the same reaction. In truth, I am hesitant to recommend it to anyone because on the surface it looks like an attempt to showcase nude Page3 girls. But check it out if you haven't seen it, and let me know.
MHS '95