We have about four thousand movie channels, it seems like–all these HBOs and Cinemaxes and IFCs–not to mention all the On-Demand stuff, when it’s working.
The Butcher, who loves movies, loves this. I don’t really watch movies, though, and when I do, I have some rules:
1. No movies that will make me cry. I’m not spending $10 so that I can sit in a theater and sob. If I want to cry, I’ll just think about the shitty things going on in the world, and I can do that for free.
2. No girly crap. I don’t need to see Reese Whitherspoon or Sandra Bullock placed in ridiculous situations and comic mix-ups until they end up with Mr. Perfect.
3. No heartfelt dramas about men and their inability to express their feelings, that celebrate their manly tragic bonds which persevere even in times of stress–like war or Thanksgiving.
4. Nothing with Tom Hanks.
5. No “teach me a lesson” movies.
So, no, it doesn’t leave me with a whole lot. But here are my ten favorites, in no particular order:
The Pillow Book–Miss J. and I watched this one night and then sat on her couch just staring at each other in wonder for a long time. What the fuck was that? I’m still not sure. But it’s got a lot to recommend it. Ewan McGregor in all his glory. Words all over the place, on the walls, on the men, on the faces of small girls. I’ve seen other Peter Greenaway movies and I’ve liked them, but none as much as this one.
The Lost Boys–This was the first rated R movie I ever saw. My mom took me my freshman year of high school and we sat in the front of the theater and she screamed so loud so repeatedly that high schoolers were yelling at her to shut up. I was certain she’d ruined my life; I was mortified. This movie is so bad in so many ways, but I still love it. My mom still can’t watch it without screaming.
Eve’s Bayou–This may be my favorite movie ever. It’s sufficiently creepy and moody and there’s a kind of ambiguity to the magic that I respect.
The Devil’s Rejects–I’ve already talked about my great love for this movie. But my favorite thing about it is that the characters have a real moral consistency. You can’t help but think that, if you spent enough time with them, you could figure out what makes them tick. And yet, I also don’t think that’s true. So, I like that you both feel compelled to find something recognizably human in them and that you can’t.
The Company of Wolves–This is my one exception to the “no girly crap” rule, a delightful series of tales about werewolves, some of which end romantically, some of which end tragically. The special effects are a little cheesy, but there’s something nice about the dream-like quality to it.
The Wicker Man–If you identify with the policeman, this is a horror movie. If you don’t, it’s a really cool movie with a somewhat weird ending, in that it seems like something really horrid has happened, and yet didn’t that policeman get just what he deserved?
The 13th Warrior–Yes, the horses are too big. Yes, saying “halls of Valhalla” is like saying “ATM machine.” Yes, there are a million ways it could have been better. But what the fuck do you want from an Antonio Banderas movie?
The Lord of the Rings–Well, of course.
Thelma and Louise–This movie, of course, violates my first rule, as I start crying right up front. But it’s great, all around, and has a shirtless Brad Pitt jumping on a bed.
A Christmas Carol–When I first moved to Nashville, a church out by Percy Priest Lake was advertising that they were going to do a “Christian” version of this story. My god. If you don’t see how Christian this story already is, you are a moron. Still, I love it. Every version. When I lived at home, my dad and I would watch this at least five times every Christmas season. I love the old black and white version where Scrooge does a headstand in his chair. And I love that the basic premise of the movie is that Jacob Marley cared enough about Scrooge to come back from the dead to straighten him out, even though we never know if Marley got anything out of that. Well, shit, maybe that violates rule three. Still, that to me is as great an example of friendship as you see in most movies and it’s totally understated.