Friday, June 29, 2012

100 Film Facts About Me

Stevee of Cinematic Paradox created a monster when she posted 100 movie related bits of trivia about herself.  I've combed over dozens of lists from fellow film bloggers over the past couple weeks, and while at first I figured I'd go about my business and sit this one out, the more I read the more I started to think "well...why not?"  So, here goes... 

1. My parents owned a video store for a bit when I was a toddler.  I started doling out unsolicited recommendations as I hobbled around stuffing popcorn in my mouth at age 2 or 3. 

2. Growing up, I could always count on my dad to introduce me to all the sci-fi/action films I’d need to survive and my mom to usher in the comedies and raw classics. The odd place they intersected? Musicals. 

3. I feel my taste really started to develop once I realized I could check out the 'unapproved' R-rated movies on my library card and watch them in secret (with the volume turned down low in the living room) in 30 minute increments before school each day.

4. That’s how I first saw Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange.  It's also how I caught up on Sex and the City early on.

5. If my parents knew, they said nothing…

6. When I was very small I saw a trailer for Bram Stoker’s Dracula that scared the crap out of me.  Consequently, I spent several years fascinated (and terrified) by the idea of Gary Oldman licking razor blades.

7. Growing up I thought (for some reason) that Freddy Krueger’s name was Rocky.

8. On a related note, during my first conscious attempt at trick or treating (around age 5), I saw another kid dressed up as Freddy Krueger on the neighbor’s lawn and ran back into the house screaming and crying.

9.  When I finally saw Nightmare on Elm Street, I thought it was hilarious.  In fact, I think most horror movies are darkly comedic.

10. There are some actors I just can’t stand for really superficial reasons.  For example: Jennifer Love Hewitt and  Kevin Bacon.  I just don’t like their faces. I actually find their faces irritating.  Julianne Hough and Jeremy Renner are definitely joining this group.  

11. Seriously. I think Jeremy Renner looks like he should be cooking meth while half-baked in a garage somewhere and haven't been impressed with any of his acting efforts since The Hurt Locker.  

12.  Meanwhile, while she's certainly not a very good actress, I actually kind of like Megan Fox.  

13.   My phone is set to wake me up with one of two alarms: “Chamber of Dreams” from the Barbarella score or “In Motion” from The Social Network.

14.   While I didn’t particularly enjoy the film itself, I adored the Philip Glass score to The Hours so much I learned to play chunks of it on the piano.

15. Sometimes I get hit with this urgent need to listen to Ennio Morricone's  "The Ecstasy of Gold" from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  When I do, I listen to it at least a few times in a row.  It's like a fight song. 

16.  The place where my short-list of favorite songs merges with the film score world is "The Pink Room" from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.  I love that song.  Instant atmosphere. 

17. There are certain songs that make me want to pick up a camera and build a film from a single scene's soundtrack up.  Brightblack Morning Light's "Everybody Daylight" is one very key component in the movie being shot in my head.

18. I don't really have a soul, so when I say I got emotional during a movie it means that maybe my eyeball leaked a single tear, but there was one time when I was sick at home that I watched The X-Files: Fight the Future and started crying through my stomach flu.  I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT WAS ALL ABOUT. 

19. I’ve never understood the appeal of The Princess Bride.  There. I said it.

20. Actually, I’m not very fond of any of these:  Psycho, Forrest Gump, West Side Story, Platoon, Scarface, Crash, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Artist. 

21.   La Dolce Vita is my all-time favorite film and one I would select without hesitation as a definite contender for best film period. 8 ½ comes close, and yet as much as I admire Federico Fellini’s work I really did not enjoy Amarcord.

22.   From middle school to senior year, I made an embarrassing hobby of writing generic form letters to handfuls of celebrities at the beginning of each summer and seeing whose autographs I could collect by the end.  I had no illusions about how silly this was, but they made getting mail exciting.
23.   I went through a die-hard level fascination with Audrey Hepburn at one point.  While I still love her (it’s hard not to), now I see her as a sort of gateway drug to old Hollywood.  She's been upstaged by Kate.

24.  I identify with Katharine Hepburn’s Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story.  We have similar  personality problems, and my suspicions are confirmed every time I watch the film with someone I’m close to.

25. Every time I watch the Criterion version of Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, I have to alternate the audio tracks between the standard and the Philip Glass opera option.  If there’s enchantment afoot on screen, I want the opera. 

26. Oh, yeah:  I’m a Criterion Collection supergeek.  I would probably piss myself with terrier levels of excitement if they asked me to visit ‘the closet’.

27. I’ve seen over 60% of the films Criterion has released.  Yes, don’t worry, I still have a normal social life.

28.  I have a massive girl crush on Tilda Swinton to the point that I convinced a few of my friends to cut work and drive hours out to the middle of nowhere to watch her Q&A on I Am Love at Ebertfest.  She spoke for over two hours.  She is an amazon. It was weirdly riveting.  By the end I think they were converts.  I could be projecting.

29. I can no longer hear or sing Abba's "S.O.S." without hearing or impersonating Pierce Brosnan.  Best worst vocal performance.  

30.   Even though I’m definitely a feminist, I love James Bond as a Platonic ideal of spies and give Bond girls an automatic pass.  

31.  I've had a hand-collected mixtape of all the 007 theme songs in one form or another (cassette, CD, MP3) since I was 11.  

32.  Last year one of my Halloween costumes was the Rooney Mara version of Lisbeth Salander.  Yes, I’m a year ahead of your plans.  Altered eyebrows, hand-cut wig, fake piercings, temp tattoo and all.  Still upset I couldn’t find clip-on gauges.

33.  The opening credit sequence of The Hunger is my absolute favorite. The rest of the movie pales in comparison.

34.  After watching Super-Size Me, I got right in my car and drove to McDonalds for a Happy Meal. 

35. Animated food always makes me insanely hungry.  Ninja Turtles pizza? That cake Fauna’s making in Sleeping Beauty?  All of the dumplings in Spirited Away?  Want. 

36.   Five film worlds I’d be happy living in: La Dolce Vita (though Fellini is clearly making a statement against that), Orlando (oh, those tree lined walkways),  Brideshead RevisitedRoyal Tenenbaums, and… Harry Potter.

37. I’m still not-so-secretly hoping to one day learn I have wizarding powers.

38. My dad actually took my sister and I out of school for a few hours in the middle of the day to see The Matrix Reloaded.  While it may not have been the best movie, it was a great memory.

39. I would probably put someone’s eye out for a chance to see the supposedly brilliant director’s cut of the otherwise shoddy 54

40.   My favorite silent film is The Passion of Joan of Arc. Maria Falconetti blows me away every time.

41.   Nothing strikes me as more pretentious than when actors talk about “their craft.” 

42. Except, perhaps, the questions asked by film students during a festival Q&A.  Dear guy who asked Charlie Kaufman why the house was always on fire: die.  Just....die.  I mean really, just think about it.  Close read on your own.  (BTW: Kaufman reacted like the dude was sprouting horns).

43. Even after four+ seasons of True Blood, I can't hear the name Sookie without thinking of Claire Danes scowling the pronunciation in Igby Goes Down.  

44. Though I was rather fond of Christopher Plummer as a kid, my first celebrity crush was actually Ethan Hawke in GATTACA and Great Expectations.  I KNOW HE'S TOTALLY CREEPY NOW, but whatevs. Everyone else liked Hanson and stuff. That's worse, I think. 

45. There's a glitch in my programming that makes me actively seek out films people feel are 'disturbing'.  Last night I finally saw I Spit on Your Grave.  There's a lot wrong with that sentence.  If you told me you had a copy of Serbian Film, I would watch it objectively.

46. They filmed parts of Ocean’s 12 in a suburb I inhabited.  A friend and I spent time that week walking into town to casually observe the odd phenomena that was George Clooney shooting hoops between takes in a regularly abandoned parking lot. 

47.  I ate dinner with John Waters last year.  I didn’t know what to say, but contributed to a group discussion on how hard it was for teens to shock their parents these days. 

48.  I feel absolutely terrible for the poor monstrous xenomorph/human hybrid that gets sucked out into space at the end of Alien: Resurrection.  It may have been an evil killing machine, but that look it gives Ripley like “mom, why are you doing this to me?” makes me inappropriately sad.

49. When I was a toddler, I spent sleepless hours watching the shadows from the hall and wholeheartedly believing the Wicked Queen from Disney's Snow White was coming for me.  Not the old hag, either.  The pre-transformation, sneering, caped Queen.

50. I wholeheartedly believe that people who broadly state that they don’t “like” or “get” foreign films are complete idiots.

51. As a kid, I was a pretty serious Trekker. Who has two thumbs, a plastic phaser, and the action figure of every primary cast member from original series to Voyager?  This girl.  

52.  And yes, the giant mainstream success of the J.J. Abrams movie did feel like a justification of those endeavors. Thanks for asking. 

53. I find most movies classified as ‘thrillers’ insanely boring.  You can keep your Bourne films, thanks.

54.   A recurring meme in my family has been to loudly announce/question/declare “ANJELICA HUSTON!?” whenever we spot her and repeat it like chattering birds for a good five minutes.  Anywhere, anytime.

55. I believe Eyes Wide Shut is underrated.  I've also managed to use it as a research paper example no less than three times. 

56. I want to raid the Velvet Goldmine wardrobe. Give me all of the platforms.

57. When I was a kid I remember seeing the movie tie-in book jacket for Virginia Woolf's Orlando and thinking that Tilda Swinton (though I didn't know her name) was just what I pictured for the White Witch of Narnia.  Guess someone agreed...

58. A then-friend and I would speak-sing "Magic Dance" from Labyrinth nearly every day of AP English.  We did not tire of it.

59.  My dad hung out with Francois Truffaut and Fanny Ardant the year before Truffaut died. He brought them a backstage dinner and they invited him to stick around for awhile.   

60.  The first time I saw Annie Hall I didn't get what the big deal was.  The second time was like being hit upside the head.

61. I infinitely prefer Diane Keaton/Woody Allen collaborations to his work with Mia Farrow.  In all honesty, I don't much like any of the Farrow films.  

62. I will continue to hope for a sequel to Kill Bill.  I really want to see what happens when Vernita's daughter seeks her own revenge.

63. I love swinging 60's sex comedies and spy spoofs. If they have enough style, they don’t need a plot. All you need: a hallucination scene or two, technicolor, plastic rimmed glasses, minidresses, and seriously heavy eyeliner.

64.  Bonus points if you have all of the above and Peter Sellers.  

65. While I’m alright watching a late night movie on my own with just my laptop, I get antsy if someone expects me to group watch a movie on a screen smaller than 42”  without surround sound.  Seriously?  I can’t handle it.  It’s like there’s no point. 

66. Though I’m a fiction writer and a cinephile, I’ve never actually tried to write a screenplay.  While my work is heavily influenced by oddly cinematic elements, I have no real interest in the technical breakdown of the screenplay and find that sort of constraint way too tedious and dull…

67. John Wayne has never impressed me. 

68.  I have no idea what the first movie I ever saw was. I can't even remember the first time I went to the theater.  

69. If I'm going to see a drama or self-proclaimed "serious film" in theaters I often prefer to go by myself. 

70.  There was a point at which I enthusiastically loved these three "terrible" films: Batman & Robin, Lost in Space, and The Avengers (Emma Peel, not Iron Man).  

71. Vin Diesel looks like a reindeer.  Penelope Cruz bears a bit of a resemblance to one as well.  This is not a criticism, it's just a thing. 

72. This is a film blog and not my personal film journal.  Therefore, you'll never see a full list of everything I watch on a day to day basis.  I just can't do that.  To me, it's the movie blog equivalent of a foursquare check-in at the grocery store: filler.

73.  I don't take any notes when I watch a movie. 

74. I'm a cinema autodidact. I only took two film related courses in college (one related to French culture/history, one on history represented in media), and assisted in creating another (picking the films, textbook, layout, etc) as a freshman.  I was peer teaching it to seniors in my sophomore year.   

75. Guys, I'm going to keep defending Lars Von Trier.  You'll just have to deal with it. 

76. Though I'm a super-deluxe literature nerd, I find myself able to consider film adaptations and novels as entirely separate entities with very different objectives.  As long as the basic thesis remains intact, I'm not going to pitch a fit.  This is why I can really love Kubrick's Lolita even thought the book (my favorite) is infinitely more complex and beautiful.  It's also why I appreciated the alterations made to something like Watchmen (another favorite)but couldn't stand Tim Burton's Narnia-mimicking Alice in Wonderland (favorite x 3).  

77. On average, I read about 130 books a year. Literary fiction, classics, a bit of YA sprinkled here and there, generally no 'genre' work (not that I frown upon it).  If it catches my interest, I'm going to read it.  While I occasionally pick up books because I hear they've been optioned for an intriguing movie, I could care less which format I experience first.    

78. I once got in a fight with a friend because I couldn't stop myself from laughing during the entirety of A Walk to Remember.  She was bawling, I thought it was dreadfully silly.

79. While I admire and enjoy quite a bit of Steven Spielberg's work, I think he's one of the least interesting big name directors working today.  He's lost his edge, in my opinion.  I'll take a polarizing auteur any day.

80. Martin Scorsese is fucking adorable. 

81. There are days when I think: "this outfit would look better with a neck ruff. they should bring that back."

82. V for Vendetta taught me an important lesson on ways to eat breakfast foods. 

83. You have no idea how in love I was with Fight Club throughout the entirety of high school.  Obsessed.  Simply obsessed.  I'd talk about it more, but...

84. I recently fulfilled this seriously nerdy daydream: belting out "Don't Rain on My Parade" at work. Sure, it wasn't in protest, but if felt alright regardless.

85. After college I became weirdly fascinated with The Big Chill and St. Elmo's Fire. They're supposed to be these big generational movies about groups of friends who have grown up together, and part of me seems to think that one day I'll recognize the characters. I don't know why.  I really don't see my friends there at all.

86. Because of Fantastic Mr. Fox, I now must wave my hands about my face whenever I say something is "different."

87. I desperately want there to be a sci-fi dystopian David Bowie musical built up primarily from the Diamond Dogs concept album.  I also think Lady Gaga's next career move should be her equivalent of Purple Rain set in a Warriors-esque New York.   I would watch the shit out of that.  No lie.

88. When we were kids, the sibling and I would subject ourselves to depressing movies like Fox and the Hound in part because we'd figured out that afterward we would appear so emotionally distraught that our mom's only option would be to distract us with another movie. 
89. When I was blonde I was told I looked just like Jennifer Jason Leigh in eXistenZ.  With very dark hair I was told I looked just like Emma Stone in Zombieland.  That's all very nice, but I feel more like these two:
90. I was disappointed with Lars and the Real Girl because I honestly felt that it just wasn't weird enough.

91. The first thing I think of when I think of bad poetry is Albert's opening piece in I Heart Huckabees: "no one sits like this rock sits / you rock, rock / the rock just sits and is / you show us how to just sit here and that's what we need."  Then I it that far from Tao Lin?

92. Favorite screen adaptations of Shakespeare:  Forbidden Planet and Throne of Blood.  

93.  I will watch a really shitty kids movie if you tell me Steve Coogan is in it.  

94.  Even though I thought the movie was alright, a part of me dies every time someone says they love The Help.  

95.  I've considered begging Disney to get their merchandising priorities straight and start producing all the Happy Meal-style toys from the "Small Fry" short.  I WANT A LIZARD WIZARD.  

96. The first film I ever wrote about for public consumption was Hero (when it got its American theatrical release).  

97.  Happy Go-Lucky pissed me off.  There's such a thing as being so stupidly optimistic and naive that you're actually just insane and suffering from illusions of invincibility. 

98. As great as Ingmar Bergman was (and he was magnificent), the first thing I think of whenever I hear his name isn't one of his own films.  It's the short parody De Düva. 

99. Last month I found a rhinestone embedded into my leg and briefly thought that perhaps I was undergoing a Nina Sayers-esque transformation into Emma Frost.  We can't discount this theory too much, as I have no idea where that thing came from...

100.  John Cusack has shown up countless times in my dreams as a friend or someone I know.  I like him well enough, I suppose, but really!?!  I've never been able to figure out why he's this guy who's popping round to my kitchen table when I'm asleep.


  1. I've been looking for someone else who hated Happy-Go-Lucky! Thank you! And how the Hell do you find the time to read 130 books a year? What with work, blog and film watching, I struggle to read one a month! Great list, another inspiration for me to write one of my own, though I imagine I'll struggle after about #12 to write anything interesting.

  2. What a great list, must have been fun to write as it was fun to read. Only question.. 130 books a year? Together with watching a lot of movies I presume.. How do you do it?

  3. On the subject of the books: I really don't know how. I read fairly quickly and am able to split my focus pretty well. So, I carry them around, I read during work breaks, I read during TV shows, and I read to wake up. It just happens.

  4. Holy shit this is awesome! Is that really you on the picture as Lisbeth? You look great! Agree with so manyu of this - for me Penelope Cruz looks like a duck. She is pretty and all, but her mouth....

    "11. Seriously. I think Jeremy Renner looks like he should be cooking meth while half-baked in a garage somewhere and haven't been impressed with any of his acting efforts since The Hurt Locker. "

    Haha, while I like him as an actor he does looks odd.

    1. Yep, that's me in costume. Not the clearest shot, but I wanted to maintain a bit of anonymity. :)

      Penelope Cruz does kind of look like a duck as well, I can see it.

  5. I have a theory that one had to be within a very specific age range to have any fondness for Batman & Robin, The Avengers, and Lost in Space (my god!), as I also admit to.

    1. Yeah, I think this is true. There was a sort of rabid fandom for all of these movies that went through my friend-group at the time, so I'm willing to accept that we may have all been immune to the cheese.

  6. The X-Files is heavy stuff, I don't blame you ahaha and finally someone who didn't like Slumdog Millionaire... I get the "old hollywood gateway drug" - mine was Paul Newman (upstaged by Cary Grant, clearly).

    I find Katharine Hepburn's characters rather relatable really, both in The Philadelphia Story and in Holiday. 60% of criterion and 130 books per year? You're everything I hope to be.

    I was planning on doing Lisbeth this year, but I guess now it's a last year's thing anyway. You looked awesome!

    Laptop vs. Small TV - Check.

    Oh... my best friend's favorite film is A Walk to Remember... I can't think of anything worse.

    This is an amazing list, really! Very entertaining.

    1. Haha, thanks! Yeah, Slumdog is incredibly overrated in my opinion. It's a decent movie, but seems more like a forgettable bit of pop trivia than a great film. Feel like its success was more a social indicator of where we were that year than anything else...

  7. Loved this post.

    1. That. Is. Awesome.
    3. This. Too.
    20. Psycho? Ouch!
    26. Oh my god, can you imagine?
    32. So cool!
    47. Whoa, seriously jealous.
    50. Yuuuup.
    55. Couldn’t agree more.
    62. God, I’d love that.
    75. Good!
    94. Christ, me too.

  8. 15 -- Ennio Morricone. Understandable. Great music.
    19 -- Neither did I! I like good fantasy (like LOTR), but The Princess Bride left me unimpressed.
    48 -- I feel terrible about that creature, too. It's such a bizarre scene.


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