Saturday, August 8, 2009

Falling Out of Love at the Movies

It was Say Anything that taught me that stalking a woman could be romantic, and it was Nine and 1/2 Weeks that taught me that the refrigerator is an erotic treasure chest and it was Jerry Maguire that taught me that you can get the pretty girl just by saying “Hello” (which is damn convenient when talking longer would only reveal that you’re a soulless prick who is so clueless about love that your attempts at sincerity require you to recycle lines you stole from a deaf guy in an elevator, but never mind). But when I tell you that every serious relationship I’ve ever had has been influenced by the movies, I’m not referring to those onscreen lessons in romance. Instead I’m talking about what happens offscreen, when by discussing a movie over dinner one falls in love with the person across the table. It’s happened to me a few times. Discussing movies has a wonderful way of revealing someone’s interests, passions and even morals. It’s a great way to figure out what someone is all about. Of course, what one finds behind the curtain isn’t always pleasant.

If one can fall in love talking about movies, one can certainly fall out of love that way, too. Just ask Craig from The Man From Porlock. This week in the comments section of the latest edition of The Conversations over at The House Next Door, Craig added this anecdote to some philosophizing on Michael Mann: “I wish I didn't have the memory of taking a date to see Last of the Mohicans upon its original release, and listening to her spend the rest of the evening complaining that Daniel Day-Lewis didn't look like a Mohican.” Indeed. Over the years, I’ve been in love with women who adored movies that I hated (and vice versa), and I’ve fallen for women who thought my affection for cinema is, you know, maybe a little excessive. But complaining that Day-Lewis isn’t Mohican enough (when the film makes it clear that his Hawkeye is English by birth)? Well, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

So, in honor of Craig, here’s a random list of 13 unlucky movie-related comments that would stop a relationship in its tracks*:

1) “When did Al Pacino become so understated?”

2) “I can’t believe The Lord of the Rings movies won only 17 Oscars!”

3) “When is someone going to remake Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Nicolas Cage and Keanu Reeves?”

4) “M Night Shyamalan just keeps getting better.”

5) “It’s such bullshit that these Saw movies come out only once a year.”

6) “I might have liked The Man Who Wasn’t There … if it had been in color!”

7) “Tony Leung is okay, I guess. But he’ll never be as good of an actor as that Asian dude who played the landlord in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

8) “I know who could have made No Country For Old Men interesting. Paul Greengrass!”

9) “I wish that Quidditch scene would have gone on longer.”

10) “I always wanted a Matrix-themed wedding.”

11) “Kevin Costner’s accent was sooooo gooooood!”

12) “Hitchcock sucks.”

13) “You know who you look like? John Merrick from … what was that movie called?”

*All these things would be perfectly acceptable, of course, if the woman uttering them was Diane Lane. Just saying.

OK, movie lovers and lovers at movies: now I want your list. Make your entries in the comments section, or you can consider this post an unofficial meme and give a link back to The Cooler. Bonus points if you can use any real lines from your dating history.


Joseph "Jon" Lanthier said...

I've only really got one line, and at the time I was so doggone desperate that I wound up viewing it as further proof of my date's cuteness. But, here goes:

ME: ...well, I'm also into film.

MY DATE (excited): Really? Me too! I saw "Miss Congeniality" twelve times!

(btw, no, the girl wasn't my wife to be, for those familiar with my marital status)

Bonus line (although this was uttered by my sister's ex boyfriend):

"I love silent film. 'Metropolis' is easily Chaplin's best work. It doesn't hold a candle to 'Mallrats,' though."

Craig said...

Jason, you flatter me. I should probably add that the girl in question and I recently rekindled a friendship after more than 15 years. (No, we didn't break up because of Daniel-Day....) She's a good person, and undoubtedly as much relieved as I that we now live too far apart to go to movies together.

Alrighty, I'll try to come up with a list of my own, though I'm mostly reminded of Quentin Tarantino's maxim: "On a first date, I invite her home to watch 'Rio Bravo,' and she'd better like it."

Kevin J. Olson said...

This is a great post, Jason. It reminded me A LOT of being in college and not being able to deal with hanging around girls who weren't ready to discuss film that played in smaller, art house theaters. However, age has made me more mature is understanding that just because something is a "small" film doesn't automatically make it good. And honestly, I think I can appreciate a girl who understands why I like the crappy movies I do, rather than the really good movies.

All that to say...I'm getting married in a week to a girl who likes unconventional films, but HATES it when I recommend movies to her...hehe. So, I always have to hope that she wants to see something I'm really excited about, or else I watch it by myself. She's not into film the same way I am (that is wanting to re-watch it and analyze it), but I don't really think that's always a great idea...haha. Like Seinfeld said: "I don't want to date someone like me, I hate myself!"

My memories of bad lines I heard from girls at college were always in reference to the big dorm room hits: Seven, The Usual Suspects, Tombstone, Good Will Hunting, etc. Movies like that were THE best films ever...according to girls I was trying to date. And that always made it harder when I would show them VHS copies of The State or Chrisopher Guest films, and they would just stare at the sceen in silence.

At one point I remember a girl being so mad about how un-funny Waiting for Guffman was that she asked me if she could go put in her copy of American Pie...I guess I should thank God that Tomcats or Sorority Boys wasn't released yet...

Thomas Pluck said...

This all reminds me of that scene in Diner where Richard Dreyfus is ranting about why can't she figure out his jazz classification system.

Admittedly, I took a date to The Rules of the Game at the Film Forum and knew it wasn't going to work; so sad, because she took me to The Evil Dead Musical beforehand.

My girlfriend of 2 years has good taste in modern movies but can't get into '80s films before 1985, and for an older movie, it had better be a classic to keep her attention. I originally thought this would be a deal breaker, but we've compromised. We've seen Casablanca, North by Northwest and To Sir with Love in Bryant Park, but also The Goonies.

Jason Bellamy said...

Jon: That Metropolis quote kills me. Reminds me of the scene in The Squid and the Whale when the son tries to imitate his dad's b.s. about Kafka.

Craig: Thanks for sparking the idea. As for the Q.T. quote, it sure sounds great, but how much you want to bet that he makes a chick watch one of his own films while he talks over it about how great it is.

Kevin: That Guffman story is relatable. I've been lucky in that I've always had pretty similar tastes to the person I dated, and the people closest to me have always been supportive of my passion for movies (and writing). But it always sucks to show someone you care about a movie that you care about and feeling their disinterest. Not dislike. Dislike, is OK; you can talk about that. But disinterest. That hurts.

Tommy: You mean Daniel Stern. (You made the Stand By Me/Wonder Years slip.) But, man, I love that scene. And good for you for comprimising. You know, if I was offered the choice of Casablanca or Goonies, I'd pause to contemplate, I really would. But then Goonies has the childhood nostalgia aspect, and I haven't seen it in at least 15 years. Where was I? Oh, the worst thing I've ever heard was about a coworker who just refused to watch any black-and-white movie. That is a tragedy!

Daniel said...

One issue that still exists between my fiancee and me is the idea of watching film critically instead of looking at it as a two hour ride. I've been trying to get her away from saying a movie was "so good" when that really means that she just enjoyed watching it and she really can't explain way. I've been trying to help her understand that I can love "bad" movies and hate "good" ones, and "liking" a film and "thinking it's good" are two very different things.

From that point - and I think we're almost there - we can move on toward general film vocabulary, watching classics, identifying influences and symbolism, etc.

So despite what could have been red flags for lots of film buffs like us, I still committed myself to her - perhaps proof that while movies may create relationships (if you find that amazingly filmic partner), they don't necessarily have to, and shouldn't, in my opinion, define them.

The Film Doctor said...

Here's a recent conversation: at the barber's, a friend and I were getting our hair cut. The barber pointed out how much she loved Transformers 2. We both got very quiet, and asked why. She said because it was funny! There were a lot of averted glances. I cleared my throat and sought to change the subject. It was a very awkward moment.

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