Image still from Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, 1926
I usually don’t jump on the meme bandwagon, but my cousin and friend Micah has hit me with the film baton, and in doing so brought up a memory of going to the movies with my family at age 11 to see Space Camp. What can I say: it’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy.
Total number of films I own on DVD and video:
Three, not counting the handful of art videos and DVDs by other artists that we own. Mostly, we rely heavily on Netflix and Murray’s library purchasing budget at school. He’s developed quite a nice catalog over there, which we borrow from liberally.
The big three at home?
1) The Cinematic Orchestra, Man With a Movie Camera, (2003). The excellent jazz/dance band, The Cinematic Orchestra, has written the perfect score to the 1929 Dziga Vertov classic silent film, a must-own for cinephiles.
2) We bought Blade Runner (1982), a longtime influence, in the cheap-y bin at a chain bookstore after a blog conversation with Michael from CultureSpace last fall made us want to see it again. This also counts as the last film I bought.
3) True Stories (1986) is one of our favorite-ever films. It’s a wild romp for the fabulously innovative David Byrne (on a related note, check out the new Radio DavidByrne.com), and it’s about Texas: what’s not to like? Filmed in and around our hometown of Dallas during our childhood in the early 80s, it’s like a trip back in time for us.
The fantastical fashion show filmed in NorthPark Mall is a nostalgic tour de force: I got my saddle-oxfords at that kiddy shoe store that John Goodman walks past. Incidentally, Raymond D. Nasher, of the new Nasher Sculpture Center, was responsible for developing NorthPark, one of the first enclosed malls in the United States. Before the Nasher Center opened, much of his sculpture collection was housed at the mall. In fact, you can see a David Smith, Anthony Caro, and Alexander Calder as Byrne and John Goodman walk through the mall during the “Shopping is a Feeling” scene.
Last film I watched: We watched La Strada: Special Edition last night. Here’s a deep, dark confession: I’m not too much of a Fellini fan, that’s more Murray’s territory. I can say this though, the film was much improved by watching the last half hour on x4 speed. We could still read the subtitles, and it sped up the whole train-wreck of a love triangle.
Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order): Because this is hard to narrow down, my answer is not so much of a top-five list, but a personal valentine to a few films I love. Funny how three of them are Texas movies, set someplace I know intimately, familiar as my grandmother’s everyday apron.
1) True Stories, of course.
2) And Hands on a Hard Body (1998), a documentary about an annual contest of endurance at a Longview, TX car dealership. We lived in Austin when this small film broke records by showing at the Dobie for over a year. It’s a funny, profound life lesson; an example of how to accept defeat and triumph with grace. It’s one of the few films that has ever made me slide off my theater seat from the sustained effort of laughing, and yet, paradoxically, it also never fails to make me cry.
3) The Apostle (1997) is another Texas film, with an excellent performance by Robert Duvall as a Pentecostal minister full of doubt, and later, full of stained redemption. As a nuanced character study, it’s dead-on and unflinching, and captures a type of personality I’ve only run across in that part of the world.
4) Northfork (2003) is the most current of my five films. Set in Montana, the Texas of the northwest, this beautiful film is about a small town on the verge of being flooded by the construction of a new dam. The impending doom brings a measure of magic realism that turns everything on its head, and leaves the town and its inhabitants skidding through time and nostalgia, hope and loss.
5) Finally, Harold and Maude (1971): My sister and I must have watched the cleaned-up televised version, taped on VHS off Channel 11, a hundred times as pre-teens. Something about the elegant, elderly and wild-at-heart Maude was deeply reassuring and inspiring to me. When I finally saw the uncut version, I was surprised to find that it isn’t even that racy. I’ll answer the last question here; if you could be any character portrayed in a movie, who would it be?: I’d have to say the gorgeous, irrepressible, long-lived, and passionate Maude.