I’ve Got Bette Davis Eyes!*

Ed. Note: I knew I forgot a movie.  It is now added.

Ok.  Now that we’re all grooving to the She’s Got Bette Davis Eyes, I can continue with my list of what makes me ME.   Next up is my list of movies.  Let me start by saying that I haven’t seen many of the classics.  In addition, I don’t care to see many of the classics.  Quite bluntly, I don’t want to watch a bunch of white people doing white people things in which movies the only people of color who appear are maids or hookers or dead extras.  Quite simply put, I don’t relate to much of the themes and feelings of old movies.

Bringing it to the present, I hate Hollywood movies with a passion.  I’m talking about the big, epic, bloated, star-infested movies that are churned out every year.   In addition, American actors get so much press about their personal lives, it’s hard for me to separate the actor from the part.  When I see Julia Roberts and her big-ass grin, no matter what the movie, she’s Julia Roberts to me.  Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt, and Leo is Leo.  It doesn’t help that they often get typecasted in their roles as well.  Hm.  In rereading the old post, I notice that I mentioned Julia Roberts in that one as well.  I can’t help it.  She’s the quintessential American actor to me.

I can’t think of a single epic Hollywood movie that I actually liked.  In fact, I can’t really think of the last American movie I liked.  Huh.  Oh, and I fucking hate chick flicks as well as dick flicks (yes, I coined the term.  See explanation here.  Yes, I’m linking to myself.  Deal with it.  It’s a good blog entry), so that leaves out maybe eighty percent of American movies as well.  I don’t like movies that try to shock me.  I am damn near unshockable, and I resent movies that does grotesque things just for the sake of shocking.

So, what do I like?  I like engaging characters.  I like a good storyline.  I like thoughtful comedy and good psychological insight.  Here are my favorite movies.  Note that I don’t necessarily believe they are great movies–I just really enjoy them for one reason or another.  They aren’t in any particular order because that’s not how I roll.

Ed Note: Everything before this was written yesterday.  I shelved this post for the rest of the day to write the poem for my friend, so everything from here on out is new.

  1. The Station Agent.  I didn’t know much about this movie when it first came out.   It was about a man with dwarfism, and there were trains in it.  Frankly, it didn’t seem that interesting to me, and I would have skipped it completely if I hadn’t seen the someone and Ebert review of it, praising it to high heaven.  I loved this movie.  I loved it so much, I bought it.  This is an extremely rare thing for me to do.  Hell, I loved it so much, I watched it more than once.  That’s even rarer.  I identified with each of the three main characters for different reasons.  Peter Dinklage as Finbar McBride is simply captivating in his portrayal of a lonely man who’s been taunted all his life because of a physical difference he can’t control.  Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Cannavale both give strong performances as well as a grieving mother and a lonely, but gregarious vendor who tries too hard to make friends.  I found it interesting to learn in the commentary that Thomas McCarthy, the director/writer wrote the screenplay with these three actors in mind.  He did a great job.    The movie is in turns funny, heartwrenching, and lovely.
  2. Big Eden.   This is a sweet gay fairy tale in which there are oodles of oddball characters, but they aren’t odd just for the sake of being odd.  The protagonist, Henry Hart (Arye Gross) fled from his small town to the big city ostensibly because he was in love with his best friend, who’s straight.  He’s called home because his grandfather (George Coe as Sam Hart) is very ill.  A good friend of the family (the incredible Louise Fletcher as Grace Cornwell) calls Henry home.  The conceit of the movie is that in Big Eden, being gay is completely accepted.   Therefore, Henry’s alienation problems have more to do with his other issues, but he uses his sexual identity as his defense shield.  Eric Schweig, who plays Pike Dexter, a painfully shy local who’s been in love with Henry forever, is the reason I watched this movie (because he is HAWT), and he does a wonderful job of portraying a man who is inarticulate in his desire to get close with someone else.  This is a quirky, sweet love story that just made me smile.
  3. Japanese Story.  This is another someone and Ebert find.  They said it was about a Japanese man in the Australian desert, and I had to see it.  Yes, I watch movies based on the fact that the lead character is Asian–if the story interests me as well, which this one did.  It stars the incandescent Toni Collette as Sandy Edwards, an abrasive geologist who is not very good with people.  By the way, it’s a crying shame she isn’t better known here in the States.  Anyway, she has to pick up a Japanese muckety-muck, named Hiromitsu Tachibana (the very handsome Gotaro Tsunashima) from the airport.  He is laconic, arrogant, and horrified by her behavior.  She, for her part, is turned off by his superior attitude and his unfriendliness.  He insists on seeing parts of Australia that are treacherous to drive, and after she can’t talk him out of it, Sandy reluctantly drives him on the journey.  That is all I’m willing to say about this movie except that it’s haunting, bittersweet, and extremely well-acted.
  4. Snow Cake.  As some of you may know, I am a big Alan Rickman fan.  However, I do not LOVE most of his movies.  This one, though, I do.  It stars Sigourney Weaver as a woman with autism named Linda.  Alan Rickman, as Alex, a repressed British bloke (yeah, a big stretch, I know) has an encounter with Linda’s daughter (a vibrant Emily Hampshire as Vivienne) and meets Linda because of it.  There is little original in the way of plotting, but the two main characters (Linda and Alex) and the developing friendship between the two is eloquent, touching, and well-worth watching.
  5. Once.  This is an indy Irish movie that gained fame when the two stars won an Oscar for best song in a movie (which they wrote.  They are musicians and wrote all the music, well most of it).  The director/writer, John Carney, was a musician in a former life.  He shot this movie in Dublin in 17 days for $150, 000.  It’s about a Guy (Glen Hansard) and a Girl (Marketa Irglova) who meet on the streets of  Dublin.  He busks and she sells flowers (she’s an immigrant with a child).  They meet when he’s busking at three in the morning.  She is the only one listening.  When she finds out he repairs hoovers (vacuums) during the day, she pesters him to fix hers.  It turns out she plays the piano, and they strike up an unlikely friendship.  The story is simple and sweet and never tries to be anything more than it is.  The characters are authentic, mainly because both of the actors are musicians first.  The ending is true to the story, and the soundtrack is fantastic.
  6. On the Edge.  This is a movie by the same writer/director, John Carney, as the aforementioned Once.  It’s about a boy, the brilliant Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Breech who tries to kill himself after acting up at his dad’s funeral.  Jonathan’s brother places Jonathan in an intreatment facility, run by the even more brilliant Stephen Rea as Dr. Figure.  The facility is for the severely suicidal, including a beautiful Irish and American girl named Rachel Row (Tricia Vessey) who has a very unusual way to get excited during sex.  Breech is enamored with her and sets about wooing her.  In addition, he and a fellow inmate, Toby (played fabulously by Jonathan Jackson) quickly bond as they plan madcap adventures outside the facility (yes, they break out from time to time).  The characters are true, even as the plot is only a step above serviceable.  It’s the interactions between the characters that make this movie shine.
  7. Charlotte Sometimes.  I saw this on VHS back in the day, and the only reason I picked it up from the rental store (yes, before I had Netflix) was because it starred 3 1/2 Asians (one is half-Asian and half-white).  To my surprise, it turned out to be a moody, evocative, thought-provoking film which quickly became one of my favorites.  Jacqueline Kim is luminous (and I loved her in Xena), and the film is a quiet study of human nature.  It’s not for those who need constant action in their films, but it’s a worthy look into the different ways human beings can be intensely lonely, even when they’re with other people.

That’s it.  Those are my seven favorite movies.  As I said, I make no claims to them being the best ever or anything like that–I only claim that these are the movies that really spoke to me.

*Yes.  The Kim Carne’s song.  Safe to say, I’m in flashback mode.  I think this song is better than yesterday’s song, though,  Amirite?  Here is the originial video–I couldn’t embed it.

8 Responses to I’ve Got Bette Davis Eyes!*

  1. I Love, love, love(!) Big Eden!
    I also loved:
    Big Fish
    Bagdad Cafe (German Film though)
    White Oleander (Sorry, Michelle Pfeiffer is a big name)
    Woman Thou Art Loosed
    Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride
    Closet Land (Hard to watch after the last 8 years)

  2. Hm. I am SO not into haunting or bittersweet, but your Number Three sounds – interesting. Captivating, even. Weird. I can’t even pinpoint why. Very weird. This from your average old James Bond and romantic comedy fan.

    (I will hide now in shame for my unsophisticated tastes.)

  3. whabs, isn’t Big Eden a sweet little story? And Eric Schweig is teh hawt. I didn’t like Big Fish, sad to say (despite Ewan McGregor being in it). I quite liked Nightmare Before Christmas, and I haven’t seen the rest.

    snee, lovely eyes, aren’t they?

    iratwo, hey, you like what you like. Ain’t no shame in your game. #3 is just exquisite. If you can, try to see it.

  4. Have you seen The Painted Veil? with Edward Norton? You might like it because it is another character-driven movie. I loved Station Agent and just put Japanese Story in my Netflix queue.

  5. gyma, hi and welcome to my blog. I’ve seen you at Balloon Juice, right? I haven’t seen The Painted Veil, yet, but I will check it out. Thanks for the recommendation, and feel free to comment on my blog any time.

  6. Yeah, I hang out at BJ but I lurk more than comment. I’m even more of a cultural iconoclast than you….

    Another movie you might enjoy is A Town Like Alice. When I read the book I kept thinking it would make a terrific movie, and then I discovered it had already been done.

    And clearly I need an edit function here so I can fix my typos after the fact!

  7. gyma, well it’s good to see you here. I welcome cultural iconoclasts to my blog any time! Oh, I see your typo. I’ll fix it for ya. I might read the book rather than see the movie. I am much more a book person than a movie person. If I put it on my Netflix Queue, I have to knock off a movie because I carry 50 movies at all times.