Filmstruck4: The Movies That Define Me

So the “Filmstruck 4” challenge of picking four movies that define you went around this week, and I spent a good amount of time trying to pick mine. (It is HARD) And I think I managed a pretty decent stack. It was tough to narrow down but I think I did it:

Sabrina (1954) – Directed by Billy Wilder

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When I think about Sabrina I get a dreamy look in my eye, and when I analyze the movie, it really gives me everything I’ve come to love in romantic comedy. The top shelf antics of the super rich, a transformation of a mousy girl into a gorgeous image of feminine perfection, (OK, this movie’s idea of “mousy” is Audrey Hepburn with a ponytail wearing a slightly ill fitting jumper, but you know, context!), family complication, and William Holden in a white dinner jacket.

It also kicked off my love affair with black and white films and Audrey Hepburn in particular, so that’s pretty important, plus it has my favorite dress in all of cinema history.

The Little Mermaid (1989) – Directed By Ron Clements & John Musker

The Little Mermaid

This was the first movie that I ever saw in a theater, remains my favorite Disney movie, and has some of my favorite Disney music. (Including the platonic ideal of an “I Want” song.) Every time I watch it, I’m reminded of my deep and abiding love for this flick.

The Princess Bride (1987) – Directed by Rob Reiner

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“Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”

So much of everything I am and do is defined by The Princess Bride. From taking fairytales seriously (but not too seriously!) to tongue in cheek camp humor, to Mandy Patinkin and Billy Crystal, plus countless familial inside jokes that revolve around seeing this movie far too many times, (we text one another when someone finds it on TV so that we can all find a television and watch it immediately. I never said this was healthy.)

Dogma (1999) – Directed by Kevin Smith

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Long before I accepted my destiny as a fangirl, I was a Kevin Smith superfan, and long before I accepted my own shades of grey relationship with Catholicism, Dogma at least got me asking questions about it. It’s also got my all time favorite Ben Affleck performance, (second only to Shakespeare In Love) and is probably the reason I’ve always considered him a character actor rather than a lead. I have a real love for Alan Rickman’s Metatron too, and actually it’s the character I think of first for him. (With apologies to Professor Snape and Mr. Gruber) I also think it’s Smith’s best directing work, (Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back is a close second.) and has my favorite Silent Bob lines. No monologues, simply, a gruff, “No Ticket,” after throwing Loki off a train and a simple “Thanks,” to God and Metatron after his and Jay’s commedation in the finale.

I could only pick four, which is why there is nary a Star War nor a Batman on this list.

Runners Up: Star Wars, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Legally Blonde, West Side Story, Gone With The Wind, Batman Forever & The Sandlot

Always.

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Most people in my position are going to talk about Alan Rickman today and they’re going to talk about Professor Snape, or Hans Gruber and how this really unique actor touched their lives.

And he meant a lot to me. I loved his Professor Snape. Die Hard is a perfect action movie and he’s a perfect villain in it.

But that’s not how I think of him when I think of Alan Rickman. When I think of Alan Rickman, I don’t want to turn to page 394.

All I can think of is simply, “Oh really, what are you going to do? Hit me with that fish?”

To me, in spite of the countless times I loved this man’s performances, the one that’s always stayed with me, is his portrayal of The Metatron, the voice of God in Kevin Smith’s Dogma.

I was twelve when I first saw that movie and his performance gripped me. Snape came not long after, and in college I discovered the adaptation of Sense & Sensibility where he played Colonel Brandon (It’s probably my favorite straight Austen adaptation, with all apologies to Mr. Firth.)

In particular the actors who were a part of Harry Potter series are going to leave a massive hole in the world. Because as I’ve said before, Harry Potter is such a different animal than anything that came before or after it.

But Rickman and the films he’s been a part of have touched me in such a real, huge way, even outside of that collection of beloved performances. He was the Angel who spoke to my insecurities about my faith. He was the teacher that I hated. He was the gentle and kind friend I wished for. He was the nerd icon I often deserved. He was the cheating husband I hated.

It’s weird to think that we lost these two titans this week, and I feel off my axis about it. Yesterday on facebook, I was more eloquent about it, but I wanted to feel this out a bit more, so thank you all for your patience on this.

Anyway, thank you, Mr. Rickman for all of it. You will be remembered. Always.

 

Snoochie Boochies

Continuing with this weeks theme of “gateways,” I’m going to talk about one of the biggest ones for me.

And no, that wasn’t a joke about Kevin Smith’s weight.

But let’s talk about Kevin Smith, the View Askewniverse, and the glory of Jay and Silent Bob.

I first came upon this Universe the way a lot people do. I saw Mallrats on TBS some rainy Saturday. I was maybe 11. I thought it was the funniest movie I had ever seen. A few years later, I found Dogma, and oh my God, did I love that movie. There are a lot of things about that movie that really speak to a fifteen year old liberal Catholic who still really, really loves the Church. It encourages questioning, but doesn’t dismiss faith and belief (or ideas as Smith would prefer you refer to them) as stupid.

Also, it had my all time top of the line Celebrity Crush Matt Damon in it as a sarcastic exiled angel of death who deconstructs the Walrus and The Carpenter as an indictment of organized religion.

Which is just objectively amazing on any and all levels.

When my dumb teenage brain finally put together that, “Hey, those Jay and Silent Bob guys are in both those movies,” and Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, came out, well, that changed everything. Also, I watched a Clerks: The Animated Series marathon on Comedy Central one weekend. I eventually, like many artsy teenagers went through a phase where I thought that Chasing Amy was the deepest and most sensitive movie of all time. I tried to watch it again recently, and oof, it’s tough to get through. Although Jason Lee is pretty dope and the “Chasing Amy” speech that Silent Bob gives might be Smith’s best non joke based monologue. Clerks remains one of my favorite movies ever, because there’s just something really, really magical about it, and if you’ve ever worked retail, I just, it’s just amazing.

Clerks II doesn’t really hold up. I mean, I own the DVD. I’ve watched it more than once, but it’s just a tough watch, despite Jeff Anderson being completely wonderful.

Over time I’ve kind of outgrown Smith’s work. It just doesn’t really fit into my life and point of view anymore. I still haven’t seen Red State, and I probably won’t see Tusk. (Though I might carve out space for Yoga Hosers…) But it holds a special place for me, especially because Kevin’s personal story showed me that this was something that someone like me, who thought like me and had a background like mine could really do this. There’s a place in the world for characters to sit in a room and talk about pop culture in crazy minute detail.

That’s been an incredible gift to me.

Also, I’ve been spending the past ten years trying to curb the potty mouth I gained by watching all of Kevin’s movies as many times as I did in high school. Seriously. So much cursing.

Note: After I finished writing this post yesterday, Kevin announced that he has the funding together for Clerks 3, and it’s hard to not be a little bit underwhelmed by this. I don’t know if it’s a sign of maturity or what, but there was a time that this news would have sent me reeling for weeks on end. As it is, I’m kind of interested in seeing what Dante and Randal are up to, but mostly just, kind of over it. But still I mean, The View Askiewnaverse was a really big part of my life for a while, so I’ll definitely be checking out the movie.

Ben As Bruce: Better than Batfleck?

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So I know I’m a few days late on this, and I don’t normally report on grainy half baked set footage, but I mean, come on, this is our first glimpse of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, and I would be remiss not to talk about it.

After all, I’m me.

I’ve mentioned before that in many, many ways, I feel like playing Bruce Wayne in a movie is way more important to that movie’s success than playing Batman. It’s certainly more difficult. As much as I love The Dark Knight Trilogy, the one thing that I never quite bought was that portrayal of Bruce Wayne the man. Except for Begins we know very little about Bruce, who he is, and how he deals with his life. And I find that stuff interesting.

It’s why “Bat-Dad” is basically my favorite incarnation. Why I think I like “Death of The Family” better than “Court of The Owls,” despite the fact that “Court of The Owls” is technically a much, much stronger story. Why I prefer Batman Beyond & The New Batman Adventures to the initial run of Batman: The Animated Series.  And frankly, I think that it’s the incarnation that will work best for this particular universe. Yes, Bruce should be kind of cranky and detached, but there should be a small group of people who know that it isn’t that case. Dick, Barbara, Tim and Alfred, and to a lesser extent Jason, fight for this man because they know that he’ll do what’s best. Damian’s a different story, he fights to prove himself to his father…let’s not go down that particular rabbit hole though, because it’s a sad one.  And I’d like to see that shown in this movie, and not just so I can see my favorite characters, but because I think that it’s an element that Ben Affleck could play very well.

And the reason I think that is because of one particular scene in Argo.

When he sits down at that kitchen with the people who don’t want to go with him and explains that he does know what he’s doing and they have to trust him. That’s a Bruce Wayne moment. It’s the moment that, for a movie where he will more than likely be teaming up with a reluctant Superman, will have to play. You need that moment when these two men decide to trust one another. And I think it’s a moment that Affleck is the guy to play and that suits the “Bat-Dad” personality best.

But if you want an example of the rougher more vengeance minded Batman, who is a good deal more likely to be in this movie, and who I also think Affleck will do pretty well, I suggest you watch any of his speeches from the latter half of Dogma. Or just watch Dogma. Because it’s a really good movie. And he’s really good in it. He plays an angel, and there’s poop monster, and Chris Rock and Alanis Morrisette is God.

Sorry, I just really like that movie.

Anyway, we’re just going to have to wait until March 25, 2016 to see. Which by the way, is interesting. We were all wondering who was going to blink in the Cap 3/Dawn of Justice staring contest and it was DC. It’s good news for me, because now I don’t have to hold this movie up against other Movie Season movies, and specifically against a Captain America movie…which, given how I feel about the first two of those it would probably lose against.

And I don’t want to have to choose between Steve and Bruce. Because for a movie? I don’t know that Bruce would win that fight. In comics? Of course he would.

Because I mean, let’s face it, wouldn’t just be Steve fighting Bruce. It would be like Sam Wilson vs. Dick Grayson, which would be a decent fight, Jason vs. Bucky (Jason wins that. Jason wins that fight EVERY TIME!) Ugh, such a good fight.

But in choosing which movie to go see? I might pick Cap.

But it’s a cow’s opinion at this point. It’s just moo.