Monday, April 19, 2010

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Ten Things I Know About Me

Andrew of Encore Entertainment tagged me in a meme, an action that makes me feel like I'm officially in the Oscar Blogger Clique. I am to list off ten cinema facts...about myself. I often write about movies I see, but I don't think I really get into my own personal relationship with Le Cinema too often. Might as well now.

1. First things first, and I think I've mentioned this before: I go to film school. I don't know how I managed this coup, but I did. There was always a desire to be a writer-director, but film school taught me that such a creature is rare indeed. It also taught me that I do not want to be a director at all. The final lesson: though I do not write enough about cinematographers, nor do I pretend to know much about the craft itself...working with a camera is fucking sexy, and when you actually get a scene lit and framed perfectly, you feel like you can accomplish anything, like taming a wild bear.

2. The last time I saw Ghost, I literally bawled out loud, with the sobbing and hiccuping and everything. And this was at a party. I think it should have won Best Picture that year. True, it's been years since I've seen Dances with Wolves, and I love Awakenings and Goodfellas, and I haven't seen The Godfather: Part III. But Ghost, for me, is tops.

3. My first favorite movie was the original Dracula with Bela Lugosi. Universal horror was my bread and butter. The Black Cat, The Wolf Man, The Mummy...I even watched The Mummy's Hand and Tower of London. So it should come as no surprise that I love a lot of horror movies. I find the Franchise That Refuses to Die aspect of the genre charming, thus my adoration of the Saw movies. This love of horror also informs my choice for Favorite Actor of My Entire Life: Vincent Price.

4. I only read books and plays that sound like they'd make good movies. If they aren't already, that is, for most of my reading list consists of movies coming out later in the year. This may be a shallow way of going about literature, but that really covers a broad spectrum.

5. My sister Virginia nurtured my love of cinema. She pointed me to the great actresses: Mae West, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, and so on and so forth. It was she who encouraged me to embrace both classic and modern films. Only Virginia could introduce me to both How to Marry a Millionaire and Party Monster. Once, we even walked together to rent some movies. It was Virginia who took me to see Return of the Jedi and Spice World, and together we managed to make it through The Forgotten. She's an independent filmmaker in Atlanta, so hopefully one of us will have our name in lights in the future.

6. I've only 57 of the original AFI Top 100. I've only seen 61 of the new AFI Top 100. Among the films I've never seen: A Streetcar Named Desire, Schindler's List, Raging Bull, Sunset Boulevard and The Manchurian Candidate. I feel like a partial failure because of this.

7. When I watch a movie, I try to decide how it could translate to the stage. Nixon, for instance, is an opera, as is Elmer Gantry. Eyes Wide Shut is a ballet. I personally love the trend of turning movies into stage musicals, because I'm always thinking that way. The Wedding Singer is a great musical from a great movie; ditto The Producers and Hairspray. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but that's the same with any musical.

8. My celebrity crush of forever is Drew Barrymore. I have a DVD of her wishing me happy birthday at the premiere of Music and Lyrics. She's more than just a pretty face, of course. My favorite performances of hers, in order: The Wedding Singer, Ever After, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Grey Gardens, Everyone Says I Love You, Irreconcilable Differences. Strangely, I've seen none of her work between 1984 and 1995. Also strangely, I hate ET: The Extra-Terrestrial.

9. Top Ten Actresses, in order: Maggie Smith, Meryl Streep, Drew Barrymore, Patricia Clarkson, Bette Davis, Judi Dench, Audrey Hepburn, Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Top Ten Actors, in order: Vincent Price, Michael Caine, William Hurt, James Mason, William H. Macy, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Philip Baker Hall, Henry Gibson, Woody Allen

10. Musicals are my absolute favorite. I often feel that music can better express emotions than words. I'm kind of an easy lay when it comes to musicals, too: I count High School Musical and Mamma Mia! as favorites. It absolutely flabbergasts me that musicals don't rake in all the money in the land. It just makes me antsy for adaptations of The Color Purple and Applause. I totally want to make Funny Face.

I'm supposed to tag five people, but I don't really know who hasn't been tagged yet. I'll go with four, at least: TomS, Who is the March King?, Peter Chan, and My Last Oscar


Unknown said...

You're a wild bear.

Andrew K. said...

Oh dear, I do NOT LIKE Ghost. I mean, I love Whoopi in it, but I just really don't like the movie.

"I only read books and plays that sound like they'd make good movies."
As a staunch book lover (perhaps more than film) - EVERY book would make a good movie.

You have not seen Streetcar. WTF?

Okay, Applause the musical - that would be killer...Annette Bening, Drew Barymore?

Unknown said...

You need to see Sunset Boulevard!! I'm always glad we both enjoy musicals so much, though Mama Mia! and High School Musical do not make the cut for me... I can't even watch them, every time I try, it's flipsies on the tv-screen. But catching Xanadu and Earth Girls Are Easy in the same night with some of my closest friends is like the meaning of Benevolent Universe. If that can happen, something good is definitely on our side. Funny how neither one of us brought up foreign films, though together we spent so much time weeding through those beautiful old Criterions. Remember RAN!! And oh, Nixon! Just realizing I missed that showing of Nixon In China breaks my heart. Damn you Blackberry for not reminding me like you were supposed to. Oh well... check this out:
Hells yes!!

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Oh, Andrew, I just cannot agree with that. There are some books that are pure books, plain and simple, just as there are plays that are just made for the stage. I have reservations about Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls..." adaptation because HOW? Siddhartha is a book that I couldn't finish because I just couldn't picture how to adapt it. Also, it bored me.

And you did see my Applause casting coup, no? I'd love to see Drew Barrymore in a role there, but much as I love her...the girl can't really sing. She has a passable voice in Music and Lyrics, but it's much too weak for a MUSICAL.

Peter Chan said...

I, too, died a little about the not seeing 'Streetcar' revelation. Redeem thyself! :P

Andrew K. said...

For Colored Girls... is actually a play, I never saw it - but it won some Tony's I believe.

Unknown said...

Walter, I think Andrew is trying to say that any book has the potential to mature into a script, plain as it may be...or simple...

I agree with Andrew that you can do a little carving to any (simple) story/book in order to create something tangible for the screen.

Maybe you should change your assertion to, "every book can be adapted into a movie; but not all of them make good films."

I mean, I personally don't think there is anything intricate about "Alice in Wonderland," the story (never-mind the drug use connotations)----but hey, wasn't it adapted (again) to produce a a film, one that wasn't good (to refer back to my point above?)

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Andrew - Sorry, misspoke. I never saw the play, but it's beautifully written. The "how" just perplexes me, especially since there are more actors than characters. I wonder if they're going to set it in a support group or something.

Nigel - You're right. You can make a movie out of any book (even articles) but I don't think they always should. The Alice example is spot-on.

Gentlemen, thank you for keeping me clear-headed. And I shall get to Streetcar as soon as possible!

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

I have a girl crush on Drew Barrymore. Sometimes I watch "Never Been Kissed" and cry at the end.

Damn, you tricked that dirty little secret outta me!

TomS said...

Hope it's not too late, but I never thanked you for the mention. It was very kind and generous of you, and encouraged me.