My daughters are home from school today, thanks to one of those curriculum-based "holidays" instituted by the school. Yesterday, when we discussed the potential activities for today, we considered heading out to see Flushed Away. I've seen just about everything the Wallace & Gromit team has produced, and I'm sure I'll enjoy this movie too. But as we talked, I had to put a muzzle on my inner child; like everyone else this weekend, he wants to take a date to see the new James Bond.
"Hard to believe," I said, while staring wistfully at my older daughter, "but before you came along, your mother and I went out to the movies every week. Left work, met for a quick beer at the pub, then dashed across the street for a show."
I don't make a habit of this sort of reminiscing (for what it's worth, this week has been an abnormal slog for the lot of us). And I mention it only because responding to this list has made my recollection of the past look downright dubious. Off to the movies, at least once a week? Plus movies on the VCR -- often on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? How is it possible I missed so many ostensibly great movies?!?
These lists have been, as the politicians are fond of saying, "humbling". But since I've already outed myself as a dilettante, I might as well keep going.
1. 3 Women
3. The Late Show
4. A Woman's Decision
5. Jail Bait
6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
7. Aguirre: Wrath of God
8. Annie Hall
10. Star Wars
Let's start with the obvious -- 1977 was the year I first went to the movies. Just go here if you don't already know my Star Wars story.
Close Encounters -- saw this way back then, too. First impression: this sure ain't Star Wars. Second impression, 20 years later: what, exactly, was the big deal over this movie? The first three seasons of The X Files were an enormous improvement on the entire concept (but then I've always been partial to paranoia).
Annie Hall -- wow. Woody Allen discovered his swing and knocked it out of the park with this one. This really should have made it to my Fifteen Favourite list (maybe I'll just quietly remove Gidget...).
Aguirre: The Wrath of God -- my favourite Herzog movie. Unfortunately, you'll see exactly why this is so when we get to 1982.
1. An Unmarried Woman
2. Days of Heaven
3. Heart of Glass
5. Autumn Sonata
8. National Lampoon's Animal House
9. Kings of the Road
Interiors -- the final scene where the sisters artfully arrange themselves for the camera got me giggling. I don't think that's the response Woody was hoping for.
Halloween -- when I was 16 I attended a Halloween party, and this was what we were watching. At 16 years old (in 1981) that moment when Jamie Lee Curtis runs from room to room and discovers all her dismembered friends was, I thought, sufficiently scary. I watched it again last year and was struck with two realizations: 1) by today's standards, this movie has a leaden and ineffectual pace; 2) the young and adorable Ms. Curtis was (by today's standards) a thick-ankled lass!
National Lampoon's Animal House -- I'm setting myself up for a fall, but here goes: First of all, I don't mind admitting this is a truly entertaining flick. But that's part of my problem with it. In 1979, in my suburban grade nine classroom, every single one of my male classmates had seen this film and memorized swaths of its dialogue. They also committed to memory every word uttered by Cheech & Chong ("Dave? Dave's not here!"). Throw in Saturday Night Live and you had a three-cornered template for life. In Grade Nine. In the suburbs. I've gone back to the old neighborhood and caught up with most of my friends from that single year, and I can't help but get a little depressed by what a corpulent, brain-dead bunch they've turned into. Maybe there weren't the proper parental checks and balances to prevent this outcome. And maybe your grade nine class was different. But I think this movie had an undue influence on these feckless kids of bourgeois privilege.
Superman -- I've always had problems with this character. He's only compelling when he's Clark Kent. Otherwise, he's Steve Austin (the original, mind) with a cape.