Ask me again (and again and again)

September 21, 2008 at 3:20 pm 3 comments

I got this idea from, where else, the always excellent avclub.com.  They currently published a column in which their resident film critics and buffs listed the movies they’ve seen over and over again, whether out of necessity or just comfort.

So here are mine.  And I would love to know what yours are.

The Rock (1996)

TBS, or The Superstation or Peach Tree or whatever it’s called now, loves nothing more than to entice the lazy and hungover on to their couches with a PG-13 censored version of this Michael Bay classic.  I could not tell you how many times this has been my sick movie, my headache movie, my day-off-school movie, my Sunday evening procrastination movie.  Which is maybe why, whenever I hear its name mentioned in conversation, my stomache does a tiny little flip for all the marks I know I’ve lost here and there, because I rushed projects that just had to wait an extra two hours to get started.  John Mason and Stanley Goodspeed’s mission to get their man always came first.

Man, ask me for my best Sean Connery/John Mason impression, and I’ll be happy to oblige.  And NOTHING is better than Nic Cage doing his best to be intimidating.

John Mason: “Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

Stanley Goodspeed: “I’ll do my best.”

Mason: “Your best?  Losers always whine about their best.  WINNERS go home and fuck the prom queen.”

Stanley Goodspeed: “Carla was the prom queen.”

Oh, and there’s that really cool scene where the guy’s face melts because of the VX poison nerve gas.

Die Hard (1988)

Holy god, 1988?  Really?  I was a young lad of two when this movie came out.  It still stands, though, as my all-time favourite action movie, and in recent years actually wormed its way into my Top 5, period.  Call me a sucker for slam-bang action movies, but this is, to my mind, the most perfect variation on the action film that has ever come out of the system.  My old copy fell apart years ago.  It had that those little striations on the bottom of the screen, a sure sign that the it would soon be time to go to a garage sale and pick up another copy of the tape.

Literally nothing about this movie falls flat, though there are some parts that logically should.  Yes, it has it’s cheesy moments (Reginald VelJohnson finally finding his inner bad ass and blowing away that blond terrorist in the final scene with a massive handgun), and it’s groaning one-liners.  But look at its strong points.  It has the very best villain to ever grace the screen – Alan Rickman’s sneering, preening, cold-blooded German bank thief, who wears nice suits and thinks nothing of killing kindly old CEOs.  It has the best hero – Bruce Willis in all his smirking glory, as an off duty cop that was just in the right place at the wrong time.  A helicopter blows up and crashes into a skyscraper rooftop.  More than a few people fall out of windows.  Bruce Willis’ wife, played by Bonnie Bedelia, was and remains a total fox.

And the best part, I think, is the humanity of John McClean, the film’s hero.  As often as he’s trying to make a joke, he’s worried, nervous, and entirely aware of the massive odds against him.  And he gets the shit kicked out of him in a way that action heroes nowadays never do.

Given all this, I still say that Die Hard stand superior to its sequels.  I know there’s an intense love for the schlocky third iteration with Samuel L. Jackson, but that one just can’t hold a candle to the original.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

I KNOW I’m not the only one who has seen this film a million and a half times.  If you tell me that you’ve never had a Christmas made more hilarious by Clark Griswold, I’ll call you a damn dirty liar and likely never speak to you again.  I’m that serious.

The thing is though, despite all my love for Christmas Vacation (as us insiders call it), it really still doesn’t rank as my favourite Christmas movie.  That title goes to A Charlie Brown Christmas, or maybe even It’s A Wonderful Life. Vacation, though, is a safe bet for watching with friends.  It’s not as long as Wonderful Life, and not as Norman Rockwell sappy.  And, like I said before, everybody knows it.

I’m ashamed to say that two years ago, I went an entire Christmas season without watching it.  Granted, it probably doesn’t matter much.  I could still quote most of the entire movie from memory without too much difficulty.  Some of the jokes, watching them now as a *cough* “adult”, yeah, are kind of stupid.  But it’s not the individual moments, guys.  It’s the journey.

And I still die every time Chevy Chase gets smacked in the face by the collapsable ladder that leads up to the attic.

Almost Famous (2000)

I’ve got my fair share of fond memories linked to movies.  I remember watching Scarface with my buddy Kyle for the first time and just being blown away ( was 16 at the time, I see that movie now for the hokey piece of garbage it is); my sister watching Twister about fifteen times in one week back in elementary school, seeing Space Jam with my Dad and both of us just howling at all the jokes.

I think, though, that Almost Famous has probably provided me with more memories than almost any other film.  Some of those memories, one in particular, rank amoung my best movie-watching moments.  It’s strength lies in the movie’s gentleness, the way it treats its characters, and its killer soundtrack.  You can watch it with friends who have also seen it a million times, and you can take great joy from showing it to a neophyte for the first time.

My two most favourite moments from the movie both belong to Jason Lee, who ranks as one of the world’s coolest motherfuckers, in my estimation.

  1. “It’s alright, just go ahead. I’m easy to forget! I’M ONLY THE FUCKING LEAD SINGER!”
  2. The band walks through the airport, returning from a near-death experience on a plane during which they all revealed their darkest secrets to each other in anticipation of dying.  Jason Lee, as the excellently-named Jeff Bebe, slowly raises his fist and taps the wall as he walks.

Toy Story (1995)

My favourite Disney movie.  I no longer have the old VHS, which came in those huge, puffy Disney cases that were easier for kids to open, but I know that the magnetic tape was starting to wear thin the last time I put it in the machine.

I remember seeing it in theatres when I was a kid, and part of me wishes I could go  back in time and see it again now, as an adult.  What must it have been like for my parents, for who after years and years of inky animation and thickly-drawn cartoon characters, were finally faced with this crisp, clean, fluid, depth-defying masterpiece of cinema?  And in a KIDS movie, no less.  The jokes were both hilariously slapstick and mature enough to find ground with the adults.  And the allstar round up of vocal talents (Hanks, Allen, Rickles, Ratzenburger, Shawn, etc etc) gave the grownups an anchor.  My mom still agrees with me that it’s probably the best Disney movie they ever made.  Although I think she likes The Little Mermaid more, which I could never understand.  Maybe Mary Poppins, I’ll accept.

Honorable Mention

When Harry Met Sally: The world’s greatest romantic comedy, albeit perhaps not the most accurate.  We’ve all had a friend we were secretly in love with, but life hardly ever works out the way it did for Harry and Sally.  I love watching this right around Christmas or Thanksgiving.  Billy Crystal’s dry wit and barely-masked anxiety make it a classic.  And the line about heiroglyphics being “an ancient comic strip about a character named Sphinxy” is the line I’ve been waiting for years to break out and pass off as my own to some unsuspecting target.  Still no luck.

True Lies: “I mean, what kind of a crazy bitch takes the ICE CUBE TRAYS, out of the FREEZER?”

Aladdin: I remember watching this way back in grade twelve in my then-girlfriend’s basement.  I don’t remember why we put it on, because I really never cared that much for this movie.  But I do know that at some point, I realized I was mouthing every line before it even happened.  That has to count for something.  I guess I’ve seen it more times than I thought.

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves: The quintessential cottage movie.  Every year, almost without fail, we would put this on right around dinner time, and then build a fire outside.  I can hear a peasant screaming “TO THE TREEEEEES!” from 3 miles away.  And the only thing more epic than the swordfights in this movie is Kevin Costner’s valiant attempt to wrestle the British accent to the ground.  He loses, but dammit, he made the attempt.  You go, Kevin.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cait  |  September 21, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    mine? you wanna know mine? pick me pick me!
    almost famous (it’s the only true currency)
    family stone (oh the quirks)
    national treasure (its history)
    and
    titanic (i’ll never let go)

    there’s more. there’re always more.

    ALSO, the sean connery impression is intensely creepy. “winners go home and fuck the prom queen” is exactly the last thing you want whispered in your ear as you are falling asleep.

    Reply
  • 2. kait  |  September 21, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    in no particular order:

    ferris bueller’s day off (because i was born in 1986 and have a pulse)
    the royal tennenbaums (because i’m white and i heart wes anderson)
    10 things i hate about you (because i once was 12 years old)
    detroit rock city (because it’s just too ridiculous to NOT love)
    the graduate (because i was a film student…sorta)
    toy story (because pixar makes me feel all comfy and warmy)

    also, never stop the blog. you make my life. (sort of…i do have other things going for me)

    also also (much like a PS, but not) i am not coming to nova scotia. i will write a much longer message on le facebook or something to inform you as to why. :)

    Reply
  • 3. daughterofben  |  September 26, 2008 at 1:34 am

    Monty Python and the Holy Grail (sadly no longer in my possession)

    and

    Amadeus. I like to quote (and gesture) along with F. Murray Abraham. And Emperor Joseph.

    Well, there it is.

    Reply

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About Upper Lip

It's mostly a collection of sweet links and copious amounts of talk talk talk. I like it more and more every day. And yes, even the ugly blue/green color scheme is not without a certain charm.

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