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Sunday, March 05, 2006

You say bad, I say so good!

Hey, kiddies, K'vitsh here. Sorry I've been away for so long. I was kidnapped by Trekkies, and, well, I just don't wanna talk about it.

Let's get to it! (This post will be full of links, since I'll be writing about specific movies.)

I'm reading a book right now that deals with Buddhist lessons in a selection of films. It's very interesting and thought-provoking. One of the things I like is how the author uses films not commonly associated with spiritual themes. One movie in particular he chose got me thinking. He included a chapter on Independence Day, which he admits is a clunker.

It made me consider the movies I love, that inspire me, that keep me getting out of bed in the morning. Movies that are, arguably, crap. Today, I will write about two of my favorite "crap" movies.

I first watched The Hotel New Hampshire as a teenager. I had a habit, on weekends, of staying up late and watching movies on t.v. until the sun came up. I hadn't read the John Irving book at this point, so the story was a fresh one for me.

I hadn't seen this movie since the first time, way back when, so when I found it on dvd this Christmas, I was thrilled. Watching it again, I realized how choppy it was, how desperately the director tried to cram all the plot points from the novel (which I've since read) into a two-hour (or whatever) film. There's a lot to cram - the funny, tragic, weird events that befall the protagonist family are many.

The Berry's are a large and boisterous clan that spend most of the film following their father's dream of owning a hotel. Rape, incest, suicide, terrorists, homosexuality, bears - there's something here for everyone.

Of course, many things fall by the wayside, character development, motivations, nuances, don't make it in. It can seem kinda crowded and frenetic.

But heck, I still love it. The quirkiness of the characters, their bravery, their humour - it manages to shine through the muddled mess. There's real wisdom in this movie. "Life is serious, but art is fun," "Love floats, just like Sorrow," are quotes that to this day help me through life. And, of course, there's typewriters.

Somehow the frantic adaptation becomes a character of its own - a nervous, eager to please character that never quite gets it right, but is loved for his spirit and pluck.

Ultimately, it's messy and imperfect and busy and complicated. But so is life. While nice, clean, resolved movies are nice sometimes, it's nice to view something that, even if accidentally, mimics the rhythm of life.

Another film that works for me in spite of not working for a lot of other people is Eye of the Beholder.

This odd little tome tells the story of a private eye (Ewan McGregor) who ends up becoming obsessed with feme fatale (literally!), Ashley Judd.

I'm love a skewed love story, and boy, this is one. They never even meet until the end of the film, then she dies. Delicious! McGregor's yearning and obsession is positively yummy (something that only works in movies and books, all potential stalkers). He never stops her from killing, and occassionaly steps in to prevent her from being taken in by authorities.

But aside from my twisted romantic needs being met, I also love this movie because of my strange attraction to Judd's character. I don't like her in a romantic sense, but am fascinated by her adaptability, her skill at surviving.

She seems to be amoral, but on closer inspection, is merely doing what she can to stay free. She was a teenage criminal who, while in reform school, fell under the tutelage of Dr. Brault (Genevieve Bujold), who teaches her to change her identity, to put herself first. It's fascinating.

Based on a novel, it's a very strange, dreamy, noirish movie.

No Such Thing was something I would've never heard of if I hadn't seen a preview for it before another film I'd rented. The lovely Sarah Polley plays a fledgling journalist who goes to Iceland to find out what happened to her fiance. Once there, she discovers he was eaten by a monster. The villagers try to feed her to it as well, but they fall into conversation and he agrees to come back to the States with her. The monster (Robert John Burke) hates humanity (no wonder I love him) - a hatred barely staved off with eating people and drinking liquor. Once in America, he becomes fodder for sensationalistic journalists and fame-hungry hangers on.

Eventually Polley's character helps him back to Iceland where he (as he begs for) gets destroyed by an odd scientist.

It's lovely and further encourages my fascination with Iceland.

I could go on, but I think I'll wrap it up.

I'd love it if people would leave comments about their favorite "bad" movies. What fun!

Tune in to the K'vitsh blog tomorrow where I'll be giving my commentary on the Oscars.

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