for March 7, 2005
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On Ruining The Favorite Movies Of The Ones You Love...
It’s kind of un-American to admit this, but I am not that into movies. [Insert gasps here]. I have several favorite movies, of course, and a few of them were even made after 1950. As a result of my attitude about movies I average only one movie a year in the theater, and that’s only stuff that must be viewed BIG. Otherwise I’ve found it’s just as easy to rent a video or wait for the TV broadcast of the film. You give up some f-words and nudity, maybe, but also make major gains like being able to talk through the movie without dirty looks and to let other people talk through the movie without having to give them dirty looks.
The last movie I saw in a theater was The Passion of the Christ last year and even during that movie there were people talking. The two women in front of me spent the scourging scenes of the movie loudly discussing how they’d like to redecorate their living rooms. I honestly couldn’t figure out how they arrived on that of all topics unless one of them had tried a “blood splatter” paint technique in the past and thought it was getting a bit too passé.
Besides, if I really wanted the full theater experience it’s easily recreated at home – find someone to take $15 from your wallet ($25 if you want popcorn and a Coke) and ask them to kick you in the back of the head every half hour or so. If you need even more realism you’re free to blare the TV at full volume, set a cell phone to ring every 20 minutes and smear corn syrup on the floor.
If that’s not enough and you’re really ambitious and anxious for the full theater experience you can even take a stab at replicating the smell. I’ve never been able to get it quite right but the cat’s litter box combined with open containers of whatever cheese we forgot about in the back of the fridge come close.
My husband, on the other hand, is a movie guy. He used to watch them as homework and had an extensive collection of movies on video when we got together. In our early stages of dating, it was my job to make him read a few books not written by Hunter S. Thompson and his job to introduce me to the essential books written after 1900 and classic movies. Lines of mine like “I’ve seen most of Citizen Kane but then the pizza arrived so someone just said ‘Isn’t it time for the game? Rosebud is the sled’ then we turned on the football game’ used to drive him mad. Now he just shakes his head sadly. On the other hand, I’m constantly surprised to find out he hasn’t seen things like Die Hard, Field of Dreams or E.T. , which are just the basics.
Recently Alien popped up on network TV one afternoon and he was shocked to find out that I never saw it. Given my mother’s rules about TV and movies it would have been more shocking if I had seen it. I’m never quite sure where my mother got her impressions about things, but somehow Alien got on her “BAD” list along with “MASH,” any soap opera except “All My Children” and anything with Al Pacino. I believe she would have been happier to hear I’d joined a cult than watched Alien.
But the afternoon was long, my mother in a different state, the movie was on and my husband was in heaven at being able to educate me on one of the great movies. Except…I wasn’t that impressed. I tried to give it a shot but I had developed my “Five Techniques of Ruining the Favorite Movies of the Ones you Love” list to keep me sane during particular films and it was perfect for Alien.
“Five Techniques of Ruining the Favorite Movies of the Ones you Love:”
Be aware that your loved one may not necessarily appreciate your contributions, no matter how creative. There are a couple of risks – for one, the loved one could turn off the movie halfway in disgust, which may be your actual goal but also may take away your fun. Another risk is simple retribution – one of my favorite movies, The Gods Must be Crazy, was once slated for a retribution grilling. However, the advantage with obscure foreign films is that you’ll really be making the avenger work for it.
- Criticize the names of people with obscure credits. This technique works well either at the beginning or the end of the movie, wherever you can catch a few names. The more offended you can sound the better. There are several variations of this one.
First, pretend you’ve heard of them. For example, “Did that say Dan Smith is the third assistant gaffer? Everyone knows he’s the worst third assistant gaffer in the business. How dare you attempt to foist this poorly gaffed movie on me! Now Steve Jones, that’s a third assistant gaffer!”
Second, if you’re feeling creative and need material throughout the movie, it’s also effective to “find” boom operator or dolly grip errors within the film. During a love scene, for example, “Did you see that blatant dolly that failed to be gripped just then? May Tim Johnson burn in hell for what he has done!”
Third, if you’re really brave and are certain that any firearms on the premises are unloaded, have the names remind you of people you’ve known and tell inane stories about them through the movie. Like “Hey, the best boy was named Ben Clark. Did I ever tell you about the Brian Clarkson I knew in college? There was this calculus test this one day and we had pickles with lunch. You’ll love this story! So he says ‘What’s the differential of this?’ and I’m like ‘Pickles are made with vinegar.’ It was SO funny.”
- Complain that the movie rips off other movies, particularly later ones. Actually my husband invented this one when he started complaining that the plot of an “I Love Lucy” episode was an obvious rip-off of a “Caroline in the City.” This worked very well with Alien. “Oh, people being chased by monsters, I’ve never seen that before. How did the writers ever come up with that one-of-a-kind plotline?”
Of course, you’re not limited to plot. “This movie has a woman in her underwear, a robot man and a cat. It’s obviously just a combination of American Pie, Terminator II and That Darn Cat. The people who made this probably had the pants sued off of them and now have jobs as third assistant gaffers.”
- Refer to actors by their other roles. This method is limited only by the amount of useless movie or TV trivia bouncing around in your head. As in “Hey, how did the dad from ‘Picket Fences’ get to be the boss of the lady from Galaxy Quest? She has a lot more space experience. I think that’s blatant sexual discrimination, get the National Organization of Women on the phone. I bet he used to old boy network to have Bilbo over there get Gandalf to work a spell on someone, the bastards.”
- Cheer for the bad guys, as if it were a sports event. If there are kids around, this one carries a risk of confusing the hell out of them but that’s not always such a bad thing. However, I don’t recommend this method with kids and Disney films because I don’t want to be paying for that therapy. Of course not every movie provides convenient bad “guys” so you may find yourself cheering for the natural disaster, disease or injustice itself, but it’s all in good fun.
In Alien it was as easy as providing sports-style color commentary for every victim and keeping score. “The current score is Alien 5, space guys 2, with 20 minutes remaining. Barring an offside kick or technical knock out, the Alien will be going to the next round. Now let’s check in with our other games: Dorothy 4, Wicked Witch of the West 0 – that’s a major upset. Skywalker 1, Darth Vader 0 – a definite victory but Skywalker failed yet again to beat the spread.”
- Blend plots with other movies. This one is particularly suited to watching movies on TV and requires a steady hand with the remote control. In this method, you have a “backup” movie ready and immediately jump there during every commercial and blend the plots of the films together. If you don’t have a “backup” movie that you’ve seen or keep hitting commercials for the backup film too, the news also works. Then it’s as simple as blending the plots together yourself or asking silly questions.
When we watched Alien another station was showing Rocky III and it was a match made in heaven. “OK I get that Ripley used to be the champ and let the fame get to her head but why didn’t she cancel with bout with the alien after her manager died and there was that earthquake in Japan?”
Uh oh, told my husband I had to look up the cast list of Alien to write this and that I didn’t know anything else Harry Dean Stanton had done. I got the jaw drop and “You haven’t seen Repo Man? I know what we’re doing this weekend.” Help! Does anyone know who the third assistant gaffer was?
All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.
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