Tuesday, May 31, 2011

100 Movie Things

Once I saw this over on Byzantium's Shores, there was no way I couldn't do this. It's not a Top 100 list, but just a collection of 100 things I've loved about movies and experiences I've had, specific and non-specific, for no other reason than just doing it. Right off the top of my head.

1. Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book will forever be the first movie I ever went to see with Becca, on Christmas Day in 1994. We had been together for all of five days.

2. Another Disney movie with Becca: The Lion King at a second-run theater. At the time, it was playing with a preview of Pocahontas. Afterwards, Becca said "We'll have to go see that one, too." I was skeptical, having gotten out of a horrible relationship before her. But in the summer of 1995, we did go see Pocahontas, and we've seen many others in the 16 years since.

3. "Water? No thank you, fish make love in it." -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

4. Incidentally, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the last movie I saw with both of my parents, just before their divorce became final. The only time they both went to the movies with me again was in 2001, when we went to see the unfortunately awful Planet of the Apes remake for my 25th birthday, just three months before I moved.

5. The way my Mom and I used to walk down the aisle at the Fox Valley Theater and look at the posters for upcoming movies.

6. Seeing Patriot Games at a packed theater with a predominantly black audience. When Harrison Ford threatened to destroy the IRA if they had anything to do with his daughter's accident, the audience burst into applause.

7. My first movie memory: Maleficent turning into a dragon in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. I've loved animation and dragons ever since.

8. "What color are their hands now?" -- running gag from The Great Muppet Caper

9. Howard Shore's scores to The Lord of the Rings.

10. Many, many summer days as a teenager spent in my room, watching three rented movies a day, back when you could still rent movies somewhere for 49 cents. (Now kids have Netflix. Become film-educated, kids!)

11. Seeing the preview for Independence Day and thinking "This looks like the biggest bullshit ever!" Then seeing it and loving it. And still loving it the other 10 times I saw it.

12. "All the world will be your enemy, Prince-with-a-Thousand-Enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you." -- Watership Down

13. Taking Becca, my mother, and my sister to see the Special Edition of Star Wars and suddenly realizing "Holy shit, I'm going to see Peter Cushing on a movie screen for the first time in my life!"

14. Becca getting very excited like a little kid and grabbing my arm in Lost in Space when the Robot declares "Robot will help his friends."

15. Being so bored that I actually fell out of my seat at Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, then went out into the hall and walked around for a while to combat the numb feeling in my brain.

16. Being so bored during Lara Croft: Tomb Raider that I was actively willing myself to fall asleep.

17. Becca actually screaming in the theater when you see Orlando Bloom's pubes in Troy. People laughed!

18. The Book Light Lady. This wonderful older lady who would sit and read with a book light before the movies started. For several years, Becca and I always used to see her at the movies--and then, mostly fantasy movies and cartoons. I wonder whatever happened to her.

19. Being genuinely surprised when Back to the Future, Part II ended with a cliffhanger.

20. The packed audience laughing when it saw Luke Perry's name in the opening credits of The Fifth Element.

21. Waiting in line with Becca to see The Phantom Menace.

22. Taking my little sister Ellen to see Hercules when she was five. She sighed and tried to put her head on my shoulder, but she was too short. It was very cute.

23. Gizmo.

24. Dakota Fanning in Cherie Currie's corset.

25. Building the Thunder Road in Explorers.

26. The emergence of Darth Vader at the end of Revenge of the Sith.

27. "She will remember you when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits." -- The Last Unicorn

28. The way movie popcorn tasted when I was a little kid. I don't know if it tasted better or if I'm just imagining that it did, but what a treat I used to regard it as.

29. That first wordless half hour of WALL-E. Some of the best establishment of an eerily non-human world I've ever seen.

30. The hype and anticipation leading up to the release of Batman in 1989. I don't think I'd ever been aware of that kind of hype leading into a movie before, and I don't care, I loved it. It was like the 12 year-old version of looking through the Sears Wish Book in the month before Christmas.

31. The moment I knew Jennifer Lopez was going to be a star (however briefly): when she's writing in her journal on the boat at night in Anaconda, and then, hearing the door knock, turned her back to the camera to walk away. Her butt in pajama pants made every single male in the theater audibly gasp.

32. When everyone at our showing of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas walked out, except for one other guy... who was asleep.

33. Dr. Grant putting his head to the triceratops' chest to hear it breathe in Jurassic Park.

34. The dance in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

35. Drew Struzan. And Richard Amsel.

36. "Quick impression: Kaw! Kaw! Bang! Fuck, I'm dead!" -- The Crow

37. Finding the original screenplay Charles Edward Pogue wrote for Dragonheart, and being incredibly disappointed in the movie that was made.

38. Warwick Davis. I just love the guy.

39. Susan Sarandon's liquid heaven voice in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

40. Stop-motion.

41. Phil Tippet, Dennis Muren, and Ben Burtt.

42. Every time Kristen Bell smiles.

43. "Now they will learn why they are afraid of the dark. Now they will know why they fear the night." -- Conan the Barbarian

44. Movies from the 80s. It's the most overlooked decade of filmmaking, but I also think it's underrated. I know, I know, art went home, whatever, there's still a lot of distinct classics from the 1980s.

45. Artoo Detoo.

46. Superman. Still the most perfect superhero movie ever made. And the most sincere.

47. John Williams. Until the mid-nineties, anyway.

48. Steven Spielberg before he died inside--Jurassic Park and almost, almost, everything before.

49. I'm the only person in history that I know of, but I love Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy movie. I loved the insanely ridiculous hype and merchandising, the character posters, the McDonald's game, and the movie itself. It's incredibly flawed, but I've never been able to stop loving it.

50. When movies I hate inspire me to read books I end up loving. (Fight Club is a prime example.)

51. "Mr Homolka: stop eating my sesame cake!" -- Congo

52. Actually managing to run down copies of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II at a video store way back before Anchor Bay made them more widely available. Remember the days when you really had to go and physically search for obscure movies? Long, long before torrents. And I was doing it in the days of VHS! I didn't have to search out revivals or midnight showings!

53. Midnight showings!

54. The moment when Christina Ricci shrugged off her blanket in The Ice Storm and Carl and I shared a look that just said "Holy shit!"

55. When I was 8 and my friends and I used our sisters' jump ropes to tie swords to our backpacks so that we could play Ghostbusters.

56. Digging my own Sarlaac Pit in my Mom's garden.

57. "Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable." -- The Wizard of Oz

58. Brian Henson's Jack Pumpkinhead puppet.

59. The time Becca and I went to see Jurassic Park III on the actual date of my 25th birthday, 17 July 2001. My Mom was out of town and I had my freshman orientation at NIU that day; when I made it back home, Becca and I went to see the movie and had a great time. But the best part of it was this junior high kid. A different kid was trying to open the exit door to let his friends inside for free, and when he went out to get his friends, this junior high kid rushed down the aisle and closed the door, locking out the little juvie. It was hilarious! The dumbass even knocked for someone to let him back in, but no one did. Half the theater was laughing at this dork. Somehow the kid got back inside and, seeing that no one had gotten to the island full of dinosaurs yet, went back to the emergency exit door to open it, walked out to get his friends... and the junior high kid rushed down again and slammed the door shut a second time! I loved that kid!

60. The time Becca and I got to the opening night of Mars Attacks! almost an hour early and decided to wait in the car and listen to music and talk... and then got out of the car only to hear a voice announce on a PA: "MARS ATTACKS! IS SOLD OUT!"

61. The time Carl and I were at a movie, waiting to get in, and I explained that Becca--at the time my new girlfriend--had borrowed my cassette of Danny Elfman's Music for a Darkened Theatre. The young man manning the ticket booth said "Your girlfriend has your tape? It's not yours anymore, son."

62. Seeing Dances with Wolves on Christmas Day with my Mom and sister, beginning a movie tradition that lasted up until 2004.

63. My favorite movie poster of all time.

64. Return of the Jedi: the first movie score album I ever owned.

65. "Jim... your name... is Jim." -- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

66. The Disney logo screen from the 80s and 90s, and the excitement I always felt as it began.

67. The final stand-off in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

68. "This is what hatred looks like! This is what it does when it catches hold of you! It’s eating me alive, and very soon now it will kill me!" -- Princess Mononoke

69. My favorite score ever: Conan the Barbarian, by Basil Poledouris.

70. The "I Bring You a Song" segment from Bambi.

71. Willow's song in The Wicker Man, and Christopher Lee's recitation of Walt Whitman.

72. "Love me, fear me, do as I say, and you can have everything." -- Labyrinth

73. "I just want to know... that it's really happening." -- Close Encounters of the Third Kind

74. When I'm watching a horror movie in the comfort and occasional distraction of my own home, and it still manages to scare me. There's a moment in The Descent that actually made me scream in my living room.

75. When the audience burst out in applause at the title of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. It was the most enjoyable moment in an extremely shitty movie.

76. When a trailer fills you with delicious anticipation. Even if the movie ends up being terrible, there's nothing like the excitement of a movie trailer. Currently, that's how I feel about Green Lantern.

77. The opening credits of Watchmen. And the performances in Watchmen... basically, every single thing about Watchmen.

78. The word of mouth on Pulp Fiction. That movie was allowed to build and build and build its audience. A small movie that came seemingly from nowhere, I went to see it on the strength of Roger Ebert's review, and I absolutely loved it. So did a lot of people. Every single time I went to see it in the theater, it was packed. And it was still out in theaters months later. It used to be so very different. Can you imagine a movie coming out in August today and still packing in audiences in January? Today it would be out on DVD by October.

79. That Terry Gilliam refuses to give up, despite how little Hollywood cares about backing him (even though they rip him off endlessly).

80. Roller Girl.

81. Kat Dennings, the perfect ideal of the high school girlfriend, in Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist.

82. Gandalf's description of the white shores and far beyond, a green country under a swift sunrise.

83. "Lo there do I see my father. Lo there do I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers. Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. Lo, they do call to me, they bid me take my place among them, in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever." -- The 13th Warrior

84. The best part of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves being released: TBS playing a 24-hour marathon of the 1938 classic The Adventures of Robin Hood.

85. The screen's longest attempted trip down the stairs in Laurel & Hardy's Block-Heads.

86. Seeing a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Billy Joe's Pitcher Show in Des Moines, IA, a theater that served food and alcohol at tables long before the idea of premium theaters became as big as it is now. I was 16 years old. There was only one guy in the place who knew all of the audience participation bits, and he totally freaked out my cousin. I asked her if we could come see Heavy Metal the next week, but she said no.

87. My Dad taking me to task for wasting my time and money seeing Jurassic Park at the movies 13 times, only to have my Grandma say: "Oh, you're just like your Dad was when he was 16! I think he must've seen Billy Jack 13 times! We drove across the country to California to go to Disneyland, and then the very night we got back the only thing he wanted to do was borrow the car so he could go to the drive-in and see Billy Jack!" I miss you, Grandma.

88. That moment in Foxes when Cherie Currie pukes blood into the oxygen mask... it destroys me every god damn time I see it.

89. "Greetings, Starfighter! You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada." -- The Last Starfighter

90. The frog-dog. Thanks to James Woods in The Hard Way, I've put French fries on my hot dogs since 1991.

91. Hayden Panettiere's silly Southern accent in Lies My Mother Told Me: "'d'I bust in on sumthin'?"

92. An audience member walking out of There Will Be Blood literally 8 minutes before the end of the movie, yelling out "This movie sucks!" and Becca yelling back at him "Go fuck yourself!"

93. "I'll be right here." -- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

94. Tombstone: the perfect pulp B-movie Western.

95. The Battle of Normandy scenes in Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg's last great achievement, which makes a point he spends three unfortunate hours constantly reiterating with a half-baked rip-off of every Samuel Fuller movie he hasn't already ripped off up to that point.

96. Every courtroom scene in Inherit the Wind.

97. Haku remembering his real name in Spirited Away.

98. Rodney Dangerfield's obvious stunt double doing the Triple Lindy in Back to School.

99. My favorite Disney moment ever: Donald Duck, Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistoles singing "The Three Caballeros."

100. Helen Mirren.

Again, 100 off the top of my head. I'm sure I could think of 100 more, but not right now. I'm exhausted!


Matt said...

Awesome list. Thank you for bringing back a bunch of my own memories (especially of The Crow... what a great movie!). My sons are now 3 and 5 and they're just starting to realize how wonderful it is to see a movie in an actual theater (matinées, of course... it's freakin' expensive).

Caffeinated Joe (Wings) said...

Wow. Now that is one hell of a list! I would have to keep going back and adding and adding to mine. Great post!

Jaquandor said...

Great list! I just posted my TV version, which took me two weeks to write.