Friday 6 August 2010

The Mammoth Movie Meme: Days 1-6


I'm running behind on the 31-day movie meme that’s going around for this month. Here are my choices for the first six categories.

Day 01 -Sequel that should not have been made

Sex and the City 2 (2010). I consider it a technicality that I haven’t actually seen Sex and the City 2. Given the marketing and promotional blitz that made this movie pretty much unavoidable a few months back it really, really feels like I have seen it. Furthermore, enough people whose judgment I trust blasted this femininity-as-drag-show, feminism-as-consumerism freak-show to convince me that it’s an apt choice. The biggest mystery, though, is why on earth they went to see it in the first place.

Day 02 - Movie that you think more people should see

I’d be very happy if more people saw  Rage (2009), Sally Potter’s acute and soulful multi-vocal meditation on corporatism, celeb culture, work, the Internet and much more besides. An urgent, resolutely contemporary film that’s also, I believe, one for the ages.

Day 03 - Favourite recent Oscar-nominated movie

Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon (2009). I don't think it's Haneke's best or most profound movie by any means, but the stealthy control of pace and atmosphere make it a singular experience, and one that’s hard to shake off. However, if we’re talking Best Picture nominees only, then I vote Up (2009).

Day 04 - Movie that makes you laugh every time

Well, how to choose between Bringing Up Baby (1938) and All About Eve (1950), The Naked Gun (1988) and The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Never Give A Sucker An Even Break (1941) and What About Bob? (1991) - and so many more? So instead I’m going to pick a movie that practically no one else likes but that seems to me to get funnier every time I see it: James Foley’s Who’s That Girl (1987). A Bringing Up Baby throwback down to its mischievious cougar named Murray, Foley’s film is usually derided as one of the Madonna movies that viewers should avoid at all cost. Well, don’t believe it. From its witty animated credit sequence to its madcap wedding finale, this boisterous screwball cartoon is terrific fun. Madonna’s performance is inventive and quirky, even as it riffs on a history of cinema icons; Griffin Dunne scales delirious heights of comic desperation as the stuffed-shirt who’s liberated by her (he’s never funnier than when surveying a ruined Rolls and yelping “There was a Patagonion Felus in here!!”); and there’s also a gem of a performance from Haviland Morris (of Sixteen Candles [1984], Gremlins 2 [1990], and, all-too-briefly, Adam [2009]) as Dunne’s ostensibly demure fiancee who, it turns out, has been “had” by cab-drivers all across New York. Add to the mix two bungling henchman, a John Mills cameo in the film’s lovely middle section, and a few witty, well-aimed pot-shots at American class and social politics, and you have a delightful comedy. Now, there must be more closeted Who’s That Girl fans out there... Mustn’t there?

Day 05 - Movie you loathe

Inglourious Basterds (2009). Its superb opening sequence notwithstanding, Tarantino’s offensive amalgam of Jewish revenge movie, revisionist WWII fantasia and cinephilia self-indulgence seems to me to have been misconceived on almost every level, a folly on a grand scale.

Day 06 - Movie that makes you cry every time

George Miller’s Lorenzo Oil (1992), especially the scene in which Susan Sarandon’s Michaela, holding her sick and suffering son in her arms, gently tells the boy to give up his struggle for life. A moment of heart-wrenching poignancy, directed with care and sensitivity, and impeccably performed. Runner-up: The Sixth Sense (1999), for the scene in the car between Toni Collette and Hayley Joel Osment near the end.

For your pleasure: Rage's great trailer.


  1. Ha. I totally get you on loathing IB. I don't know, I loathe parts but not completely, but I definitely do NOT love it.

  2. Wow, I'm very curious to see Rage now...I don't think it's opened stateside yet. And I haven't seen Lorenzo's Oil, though I've always wanted to. I'll have to check it out soon. I think you have a special affinity, Alex, for stories and themes regarding mothers and sons, no? I wonder why those in particular seem to move you so much? :)

    Oh, and I also adore Who's That Girl? I totally love just about anything from 1987...movies, pop music, the playfully god-awful fashion. Griffin Dunne is so much fun in that film. Plus, the movie poster & soundtrack album cover image of Madonna with her cherry-red lipstick and peroxided blond hair is ICONIC.

  3. Andrew - I thought INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS’S opening sequence was amazing, but it prepared me for a totally different movie. ie. something other than a puerile mess. :)

    Jason - Well, as a total Mummy’s Boy I guess it’s no surprise. ;)

    Seriously, I do think that mother/son scenes (and all parent/child scenes, of course) have the obvious potential to tap into something primal. These two films certainly achieve that, with a frankness and tenderness that’s all too rare, I think. I find the mother/son scenes in THE SIXTH SENSE to be incredibly well-observed - one of the most undervalued aspects of the movie, in fact - and I certainly relate to them from my own experience. (Though I never saw dead people, I hasten to add.)

    I read a hilarious interview with Luca Guadagnino, the director of I AM LOVE, recently. He was criticising the mother/son dynamic in MID-AUGUST LUNCH and announced: “I’m a Hitchcockian … I still believe that PSYCHO sets the standard for mother/son relations!”

    I should have known that you’d appreciate WHO’S THAT GIRL - what with your great 80s fixation! I’m happy to know that there are at least two of us who love that movie!

    Do see RAGE when you can. Sally Potter has a great blog that you might find interesting, though I note that she hasn't updated it lately:

  4. You don't like Inglorious Basterds? ...

    I'm with you on The Sixth Sense, though.

  5. There’s a piece by Peter Bradshaw that sums up some of my feelings on INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS:

    However, I’m choosing Tarantino for a later (favourite) category of this meme, so I guess it all balances out. ;)

  6. I'm with you on SATC2 and Rage