As my withdrawal from the cancellation of The Rotten Tomatoes Show slowly weans, I am going to write my Five Favorite Films to lick my wound. This feels like when you make a mixtape for someone who you just broke up with. I completely made that up; do people actually do that? Well, consider this my break up movie compilation:
5. Velvet Goldmine (1998)
During high school, I had an unhealthy obsession with drag queens. Mix that with my pre-teen discovery of punk rock, and you get cross-dressing glam rock. So I naturally gravitated to this fictional film chronicling the disappearance of a former glam rock star. Initially a hot mess of a plot, this is a film that you have to watch several times to understand. The characters are thinly veiled (of course, out of velvet) caricatures of some of my favorite musicians: David Bowie, Marc Bolan from T. Rex, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed. Todd Haynes provides a visual feast with an amazing soundtrack. This movie is so endlessly quotable: e.g. “The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history.” Plus Oscar Wilde – my favorite writer – is apparently an alien left on an Irishman’s doorstep and the forefather of glam rock. Yeah, the film is over-the-top ridiculous, and I love that.
4. Rushmore (1998)
I adore Wes Anderson’s trademark dioramic film style and blatant over-use of the Futura font. And this I believe to be the pinnacle of his current oeuvre. I often run into those who say that Anderson’s films are just all style and charm without any substance. “O. R. they?” Rather, I think his style is the omnipresent filter for expressing feeling with a whimsical sense. His films are told like fairy tales with more probable subject matter. And Max Fischer is one of the greatest characters on film. After all, he saved Latin. What did you ever do?
3. Almost Famous (2000)
Surely, this is Cameron Crowe’s masterpiece. This film has so much heart and is centered in a musical period that I favor. (Led Zeppelin is my favorite band. And yes, I would definitely have been Vic Munoz, the bumbling Zep fan, had I lived at that time.) Penny Lane is such a fascinating character. Yes, she’s morally ambiguous and befriends rock stars because “famous people are just more interesting.” But she truly cares for William Miller and loves Russell Hammond. Oddly, the line that always hits me the hardest is “They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. Y’know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts,” delivered with such conviction by Fairuza Balk as Sapphire. I guess because that’s a good summation of my feelings toward music. And as I grow with my love of music, the character of William has helped as an anchor of sanity and purity in my own experiences of chaos. Obviously, I am very invested in this film; which is because the main characters are so three-dimensional.
2. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
I’m a huge fan of Tim Burton’s earlier work – not so much his recent adaptations of already kooky films. I’m undecided about whether Edward Scissorhands is really better than his other movies; it’s just the best representation for my love of Burton. His trademark style is that of a dark tone varnished with whimsy and decorated with modernized German Expressionism. And when Burton is working with an original story, it never gets old. This film encapsulates the pangs of loneliness in such a heartbreaking yet consoling way. Though Edward has so little to say, he expresses so much. Like he uses his scissorhands to express himself and make connections with others, my main mode of communication used to be through poetry/short stories.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Preface: Charlie Kaufman is a god. Summary of film: Yes, Kaufman is the best screenwriter. Ever. I share with him an interest in unpacking how the mind works. Somehow he finds a way to make abstract ideas into clear-cut, pleasing visuals. And interweaves them into beautiful and complex, yet understandable stories. Mix that with the masterwork of Michel Gondry’s directing (WITHOUT SPECIAL EFFECTS EDITING!!!) and heartfelt performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, you get the best film in existence. I have never been in love, but I empathize deeply with Joel Barish in his struggle against having the memory of his lover erased. I can only hope that I have as great, and less tragic, a love that he had in his earlier memories. (Also, I went through a phase in 8th grade, dressing like Clementine Kruczynski. I have a coat just like the one in the picture above. I still want to dye my hair orange.)
Honorable Mentions (due to my indecisiveness): Citizen Kane, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Truman Show, American Psycho, Annie Hall, A Clockwork Orange, Dead Poets Society, Pulp Fiction, Harold and Maude, Alice in Wonderland (1951), A Streetcar Named Desire, Amelie, Psycho, American Beauty
So, The Rotten Tomatoes Show, this is an open plea for your reconstruction. I leave you with a song from El Topo to mull this over.