Sunday, November 04, 2007

Great moments in cinema history

Yes, it's time for the beginning-of-the-month list - September's declaration of intent (and last month's late, serialized, unduly protracted follow-up) herewith crystallizing definitively into a regular feature.

This month's topic is, more properly, Great moments in my personal history of cinema-going.

Out of the many hundreds of films I have seen in a cinema (really - I used to aim for 50 a year, when I had access to lots of cheap arthouse cinemas as a student in Oxford; and since then - at least, until coming to China - I've generally managed to keep up an average of at least 20 a year), there are just a handful that left a particularly vivid impression in my memory - as much for the circumstances surrounding that moment, and hence the emotional impact on me, as for the fact that they were especially brilliant films (although they were).

Here we go.....

10 life-changing moments in the cinema

1) 2001: A Space Odyssey - I was taken to see this when I was far too young. Not on its first release (heck, I was hardly even born - I hadn't realised until recently that it pre-dated the first Moon landing), but at some point when it was getting a big second run in cinemas in the early or mid-70s (it might well have been tied into the end of the Moon missions, or the launch of Skylab). I was still at primary school. I should not have been allowed in. My parents should not have taken me (I suppose they thought I'd enjoy it because I was a bit of a space programme obsessive at the time). I didn't understand it (and, even then, I was not used to not understanding things). It scared me. It traumatized me. It fascinated me. I don't think any other film has ever lingered so long or so potently in my memory. I enjoyed reading the novelization a few years afterwards (also by Arthur C. Clarke, who had written the original short story which inspired one of the key ideas in the film, and then developed the screenplay with Kubrick), and it went some way toward rendering the mysteries more intelligible. I didn't see the film again until some 25 years later (I think it had been kept out of cinemas in the UK - perhaps another of Kubrick's famous episodes of control-freakery? - until its 30th anniversary rolled around); and I still found it deeply unsettling; although at least this time I had a deeper understanding of why.

2) Vanishing Point - This would have been about the same time as '2001'; I can't now recall if it was a little later or a little earlier. My brother - quite a bit older than me, already in his middle teens, and a friend of the son of the guy who owned our small-town fleapit cinema - was my hotline to the coming attractions (there was only one film per week, and almost everyone in the entire town went to see it on the Friday or the Saturday). And this one seemed a particularly exciting prospect: a road film, a chase film, lots of car stunts. However, under our old cinema ratings system I think it was categorised as an 'AA' - which meant that you were supposed to be 14 or 15 to be allowed in. The cinema owner, Jeff, was usually pretty relaxed about letting kids in to see stuff; but this picture was reputed to have quite a bit of violence and nudity in it; and I was still only about 8 or 9, maybe 10 - it would have been pushing things a bit too far. I think I had been intending to go with my bro (he had taken me to a few single 'A' category films, where I was supposed to have been accompanied by an adult), but he got cold feet about the idea. I must have bitched about it so much that my dad agreed to try to get me in. So, part of the pleasure of this particular cinema experience was getting my way; part of it was being able to surprise my bro afterwards with my knowledge of the film (he'd gone separately with some mates, and wasn't aware that dad and I were in the theatre at the same time as him); but mostly, I loved it because it was such a wonderfully dark, existential sort of thriller. I've always been drawn to films that are dominated by a sense of bleakness, hopelessness; always, even when I was 9!

3) An American Werewolf In London - I saw this when I was attending admissions interviews in Oxford; it was the winter I turned 18. I think it was the first time my parents had ever allowed me to travel anywhere on my own. It was the first time I'd been able to drink in a pub on my own legally (a bit of a dull experience, actually, after 3 or 4 years of illicit thrills as an underage drinker). And it was the first time I'd had an opportunity to go to a 'big town' cinema (of the three cinemas that I visited in my childhood - Monmouth, Coleford, and Hereford - only the Hereford one was of any size, and I don't think it had a second screen; though nominally a 'city', Hereford was essentially a hick town, just a rather larger one than Monmouth, the overgrown village that I grew up in). It might well have been the first time I ever went to the cinema on my own. I had a high old time. I went to the cinema all three nights I was there. The highlight of those three trips (oh, how exhilarating it was suddenly to have choices, to be able to go more than once a week!) was this great John Landis horror comedy (the other two nights were 'Airplane!' and 'Monty Python's "Life of Brian"'). It was one of the very few occasions when I have really appreciated the communal aspect of the cinema-going experience (usually I am strictly solitary and anti-social in my film-watching); the theatre was packed, and the audience were loving it - a great atmosphere. I think we were all "warmed up" by the bizarre trailer that had preceded it, for a soft porn film (the first one of those I'd seen as well, I'm sure); one of those very tame ones that has to masquerade as a documentary about Swedish naturist resorts in order to get a mainstream distribution. It was ludicrously amateurish, and the commentary was priceless - we were all hyped up and reeling with laughter before the main feature began. (Was this a deliberate promotional ploy by the 'American Werewolf' distribution company, do you suppose? Was the porno trailer a fake, a comedy short specifically designed to lubricate audience laughter?) Fabulous film, too; still a favourite. Jenny Agutter in the shower - a key erotic moment in any Englishman's life (curiously enough, the other two key erotic cinematic moments in an Englishman's life are Jenny Agutter swimming naked in 'Walkabout' and Jenny Agutter dressed as a Victorian schoolgirl [and taking her bloomers off to flag down the train] in 'The Railway Children' - what was it about Jenny Agutter?). And then there was Griffin Dunne's wonderfully downbeat comment on the limitations of the afterlife: "Have you ever tried talking to a corpse? It's boring."

4) Fitzcarraldo - I had just gone up to start my undergraduate career at Oxford. I had just discovered The Phoenix, the two-screen arthouse cinema in Jericho (still going strong today) where I would spend countless hundreds of hours over the next two decades. The next morning I was required to rise relatively early to attend my college's Matriculation ceremony (failure to attend which could, I was told, have dire consequences). But what the hell - they're showing this dark, weird epic by Werner Herzog on the late show; that's a must-see. It's a long film, something like two-and-a-half hours; and it didn't start until nearly midnight. I was knackered the next day, nearly did miss the Matriculation..... might have had to wait another year to start at University. It would have been worth it! This was probably the first really great film that I got to see on my own at a cinema, and it completely blew me away; both the story and its execution resonated with me more deeply than just about anything else I have ever seen. It is a wonderful celebration of the power of dreams, of the beauty of being passionately attached to your ideals, and of the possibility of finding some consolation even in the most devastating failure.

5) Lili Marleen - My other (even more frequent) resort during my Oxford days was the delightfully sleazy, single-screen Penultimate Picture Palace (PPP) just off the Cowley Road. In my early days there, they ran this fantastic schedule where there was a different film each week for the early and late evening screenings and a daily-changing film on the afternoon matinees and late-night slots: 16 different films each week. I never quite got to see all of them; although I think I did make it into double figures for the week once or twice. In fact, I did once think of applying for a job as a projectionist there, so that I could see the films for free (at this time, the admission fee was only 99p anyway; but I was going so often that it did start to mount up!). Thanks to the wonderful profusion and diversity of the PPP's offerings, I had got to know and like the work of the very stylish, very quirky German director, Rainer Werner Fassbinder. One week I happened to notice, at the very last minute, that his 'Lili Marleen' was on that afternoon - an exuberant wartime adventure starring his regular leading lady, the gorgeous Hanna Schygulla, as a glamorous nightclub singer forced to entertain German troops. It was the only screening that week. It might be my only chance to see that film ever (to my knowledge, it never did come around again in the cinemas). And I had read that it was wonderful. It was just a bit unfortunate that it clashed with a tutorial (one of the weekly, hour-long, one-to-one sessions with a professor which are the main method of 'teaching' at Oxford). Something had to give. I hastily scribbled a note excusing myself from the tutorial. I could have fibbed and claimed illness. But I have always believed that honesty is the best policy: so I explained there was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a Fassbinder film at the cinema that afternoon, and I considered that more important. The prof was reasonably understanding about it. I never regretted the decision: it was a delightful, quite exhilarating piece of film-making (I've never seen it again in any medium; I wish I could find it on DVD here.). That incident was thoroughly representative of my time at Oxford; my studies were always a very low priority - I felt I was getting my education elsewhere.

6) Brazil - Terry Gilliam's blackly funny masterpiece (a take on Orwell's '1984', scripted by Tom Stoppard) is a film I find bears many repeat viewings. I think I went to see it 3 or 4 times in the first year it was out. The first one was probably at the Phoenix (I went to see it with a Welsh drinking compadre of the time, who subsequently pursued a career in film-making himself for a while). The first 10 minutes or so are just staggering; I sat there, eyes popping, jaw sagging - probably sighing with delight. A little later that summer I went to see it again at Not The Moulin Rouge, a slightly swanker sister of the Penultimate Picture Palace, up the road in Headington. Despite it being outside of the academic term time, it was a pretty packed theatre - and I ran into a couple of friends who'd also fallen in love with the film and come back for a repeat viewing. I once read that there was a cinema in Paris that showed this film every day for a dozen or more years. My recollections of seeing this film epitomise the exhilaration, the sheer joy that the cinema can inspire in me.

7) Commando - This might seem to be lowering the tone a bit, but I honestly believe that - of its type - this is a great film. It is a thoroughly workmanlike action adventure film that diverts quite well on those terms alone, yet it also gleefully sends up - much better than any other film I can think of - the conventions of that genre. I fondly recall reading this soundbite from Schwarzennegger (probably written by his publicist) when he was promoting the film (at that time big Arnie was just starting to break big after the success of 'The Terminator', and was seen as being in competition as an action hero with Sly Stallone and his rapidly deteriorating but horribly successful 'Rambo' series), probably before I saw it: "In this movie I kill way more people than Stallone. And I kill them in more interesting ways." And it's perfectly true: the "tool shed sequence" is a classic! However, I didn't just fall in love with this film because it's so slick, smart, and funny. No, it won a special place in my heart because it came at another key juncture in my life, in my sputtering career as a 'star' student. 'Collections' (internal College exams at the beginning of each term, to test work supposedly done over the vacations) were a big part of Oxford life. I'd always hated them. If you were an under-performing student, they could be labelled as 'penal', which meant that if you got a poor mark on them you could face disciplinary procedures - including, potentially, being kicked out of the University altogether. I think my 'collections' this term were not formally classed as 'penal', but I had been given enough coded warnings to realise that if I screwed them up, I would be asked to sit a second set that would be 'penal'. I was hating my course at this point. I hadn't done any work over the vacation. I knew I was likely to fail these 'collections' horribly, and it would be a complete waste of time even to sit them. I might as well just go straight to the follow-up 'penal collections' (at least that would give me a week or two to revise). So, I skipped the exam, went out and got extravagantly drunk at lunchtime with my buddy The Bookseller (as he now is), and then looked for a film to while away the afternoon with...... and we chanced upon 'Commando'. The combination of a good friend, a lot of alcohol, running away from major life responsibilities, and happening by chance on a surprisingly clever and entertaining film made - oddly enough - for one of the happiest afternoons of my life.

8) The Hairdresser's Husband - Patrice Leconte is perhaps my favourite still-active director: I love just about all of his films. And I think this was the first I ever saw. It came at a particularly bad time in my life. I had just suffered a spell of serious illness which left me in hospital for 2 or 3 weeks, and knocked me off my feet for considerably longer than that. It had required some minor surgery. The procedure was somewhat botched. The operation had been on my bottom. It damaged my anal sphincter, such that..... well, I wasn't wildly incontinent but I was distressingly leaky for a while. The surgical wound was deep, wouldn't heal properly, kept getting infected. I'd lost a ton of weight: I was gaunt and enfeebled. I'd been laid up in bed for so long that I'd become decidedly wobbly on my feet. I'd lost so much muscle tone in my buttocks that they chafed together all the time when I moved; walking more than a hundred yards or so would result in severe soreness, and indeed bleeding. Sitting down was acutely uncomfortable, yet I was barely strong enough to stand up. Can you imagine how wretchedly humiliating and debilitating and painful all of this was? I doubt it. I was in a bad place. My protracted - indefinite - period of invalidity had obliged me to quit my teaching job; and convalescing at home with my parents had been rapidly driving me crazy. Luckily, my good friend The Egregious Dr P agreed to take me in for a month or so. He was still living in Oxford, his house barely a mile from the PPP. So, I spent much of that period of recovery going to see films. The short walk there and back took ages, and was agonising - but this was the only source of pleasure and hope in my life at that moment. In that exhausted, depressed, emotionally brittle state I had some particularly intense cinematic experiences - experiences that lifted me out of near-suicidal despair; experiences the recollection of which still buoys my spirits to this day. I particularly cherish my first encounters with 'The Big Blue' and 'Cinema Paradiso' in those dark days. But it was 'The Hairdresser's Husband' that enraptured me most of all. From the opening shots - the young boy dancing so unselfconsciously, ecstatically to the strange Arabic music on his gramophone; the voiceover anecdote about the grotesquely unsuitable swimming trunks his mother had forced him to wear on their seaside holidays; the jarring revelation that this marvellously determined, unselfconscious, individualistic child has matured into a dour, taciturn, eminently lugubrious Jean Rochefort - well, I was in heaven. I'm not sure that I've ever been so wholly, instantly captivated by a story on the screen. Afterwards, I limped painfully home with a song in my heart - and didn't chuck myself in the river, as I had been seriously contemplating just a few hours earlier.

9) Dr Strangelove - I first saw this on TV one afternoon when I was about 12 or 13 (and whatever chore it was my parents thought I should have been doing was obstinately deferred). The 'real time', documentary feel of it sucked me in completely: by the end of it, I felt completely emotionally drained; I felt as if I really had just witnessed the last two hours of human existence. Nearly 20 years later, I found myself passing through San Francisco as a backpacker, and thought I should check out the famous Castro Cinema (I think it's actually on Market St; but it's near the head of Castro St, well-known as the epicentre of the city's gay community). It's a gorgeous, huge, old school style cinema - it even still has a Wurlitzer organ at the front (or, it used to back then). I confess I was a little nervous of the place's reputation as a homosexual rendezvous/pick-up site. And I was wary of the double entendre involved in asking, "Do they play the organ in the matinees?" However, I learned that Strangelove was on one afternoon during the week I was there (another of those one-screening-only deals: see it now or miss it forever), and I couldn't resist. No organ, alas. But no unwelcome homosexual advances either (I was just about the only person in the theatre - rather sad, really, for such a great film). On the big screen I found it even more devastating than I had on that first viewing as a child. My eyes were damp at the end of it.

10) The Girl On The Bridge - Another Patrice Leconte nomination, to prove how much I love the guy (and I could go on about 'Tango' or 'Ridicule' or 'La Veuve de St Pierre' at great length also). I can't quite remember when I first saw this (and IMDB is currently unavailable to me, so I can't check when it came out); but I know it was at The Phoenix; and I suspect it was in the late '90s. It was another period where I had reached a very low emotional ebb in my life. It was another occasion when I found something so deliciously enjoyable that it revived and reaffirmed my whole zest for life. For a long time I carried the ticket stub - imprinted with the name of the film - around with me in my wallet, to remind me of why I keep on living.

As I warned at the outset, I have spoken more about my mental state when I first experienced these films than about the merits of the films themselves. But they are all very, very, very good - and I do urge you to give them a look, if they are not already known to you.


Anonymous said...

what a perfect sunday morning read to accompany my hot cup of burmese tea. I've been looking forward to delving into the Froog Film History since I heard about its conception.

Anonymous said...

#3, wait, something's missing. what was the "wonderfully downbeat comment on the limitations of the afterlife"? or are we meant to hunt it down for ourselves?

Froog said...

Yes, I'll try to fix that. Blogger really is a pain: it randomly varies font size and formatting, so that some bits of text just disappear sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Okay, now I just feel silly, being the 3rd commenter when I am also the 1st and 2nd. But as my Ladies' Tea Club isn't around to comment (by the way, I haven't really seen them here in a while, I wonder what's up) and the Guys (TBC, FG(?), Snopes...) aren't around either... and I'm sure Moonrat's got other activities on what would be her Saturday night time... I guess I'll just continue on and be that 3rd commenter...

#1 I'm not sure I ever watched this, but I was gifted the book at an early age and remember determinedly making my way through it... I was really too young to be reading it. But, then, that was often the case and made my re-read several years later all the more interesting and worthwhile. It was an odd one... drawing up all sorts of scenes in my imaginative mind. At this point, if I watched the film, I'd probably be disappointed with the disconnect between my images and the screen. But, anyways, all of that was so long ago, I'd really need to re-visit the book now to have a better understanding of how and why it affected you.

#3 (again), soft porn as a trailer? I feel UK cinemas might be a bit different than USA... or at least at that time. or maybe it's just me.

"I think it was the first time my parents had ever allowed me to travel anywhere on my own." that topic has such potential for development. I hope you'll write more.

#5, "The prof was reasonably understanding about it." Was he at least an arts appreciation professor? It's not like you skipped out on math or science, right?

"16 different films each week" - so glad you followed that up with the cost of the films... Just as I read that and the following "make it into double figures", I thought, which student has U$70 to blow on films every week.

#8, Glad you pulled through on that one. Sounds like your agonizing 1 mile walk to and from the PPP was probably good for your body, too. Rehabilitating can be such an awful dreary process that having some, any, happy excuse to get up and move really helps.

Froog said...

Have we got the Dunne quip visible again now? If we have, we've probably lost something else. It really is a trial, sometimes: creating these long posts can take twice as long as it should.

What Dunne says (as he sits in a cinema, surrounded by the zombie-ghosts of other werewolf victims) is: "Have you ever tried talking to a corpse? It's boring!"

2001? See the film! You probably don't have a clear recollection of your mental visualizations of the novel any more. And even if you do, the images in the film are so strong that you'll soon forget all your preconceptions.

I think now that what so terrified me about the film (and the recollection of that first experience still does) is that it was probably the first time that I had been confronted with the idea of mortality, the extinction of the human body. There are three very different, very striking images of this in the film: the death of astronaut cut loose from the ship (the terrible contrast between his death agonies, flailing arms and legs in panic, groping frantically at his severed airline; and then the body suddenly limp and still, drifting through the endless blackness of space); the murder of the crew members in suspended animation (we never even see them, encased as they are inside their cryogenic sarcophagi; we just see the traces on their life-signs monitors one by one faltering to a flat line); and the death - or decay, at any rate - of Bowman at the end, his entire life passing in just a few minutes (I think I found this accelerated aging the most disturbing thing of all - perhaps just because the mechanism of it was unexplained).

The 'death' of HAL the computer is oddly moving too - the pitiful way it pleads for its 'life' as Bowman is dismantling it. Its serial loss of faculties is distressing, too - somewhat like Alzheimer's, a slow regression into infantilism.

Regarding my difficult convalescence, and the awful problem of the buttock-chafing, there was no progress for quite some time. Walking didn't seem to do me any good at all. Funnily enough, the problem cleared up almost immediately once I began running again. I had been afraid to try that for quite some time: my legs had become very shaky, and I thought, "If I can't walk, I sure as hell can't run!" But actually, once I tried it, there was no problem at all (other than that I was completely exhausted in under 10 minutes - it took me quite some time to build up to being able to run 4 or 5 miles again).

Anonymous said...

#3 now visible.

Now that you mention it, I do remember those scenes from the book.

watch the film? ah, I'm sure it could find it on the dvd round, but I think the right combination of environment, frame of mind, planned post-film activity are necessary so that I don't fall into the pit. So, perhaps, one day, we'll see.

you've always been a runner? some deep muscle tissue somewhere remembered that? it's like riding a bike, maybe? once you learn, you don't forget? I'm that way with horses. I wish horses were more accessible here. They've pulled me out of more than one slump.

The British Cowboy said...

I knew there was a reason I liked you Froog. Two Kubrick movies. And Jenny Agutter's baps.

I too have been a long time defender of Commando. It just seems to draw the right line between laughing at itself and yet still being a serious action movie. I believe it holds the record (though may have lost out recently) for most blanks fired in a movie.

And Froog - what was the PPP's sister cinema? I cannot for the life of me remember.

I too spent many happy times at the PPP before it got closed down. Including their blatant disregard for the law - showing the uncut version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I seem to remember. It upset Ian Toner rather badly, I think.

Froog said...

The PPP's companion cinema in Headington was (as I mention somewhere in the middle of that post) was called 'Not the Moulin Rouge'.

I thought the PPP just ran out of money (or the owner ran out of desire to carry on) rather than being closed down? It did keep going well into the '90s. It got away with showing all of that dodgy material (I think they even managed to show 'A Clockwork Orange once, despite Kubrick's crankiness about it; and they showed some much worse stuff than TCM - Pasolini's 'Salo', for example. In my early years, they used to delight in having a 'banned' week once or twice a year to showcase that kind of film. Was that still continuing in your day?) by being nominally a private club. You had to pay a 1-quid-a-year membership fee; at least back in my day you did.

The British Cowboy said...

Yes - there was a membership fee in my day.

I can't believe I missed you saying that was the Not the Moulin Rouge...

For those not blessed enough to have lived in Oxford, the owner of these two places was quite the character. He got in worlds of trouble with the council for having a hube fiberglass shark installed in the roof of his terraced home.

I seem to remember the PPP being shut down for flagrant code violations. That could be my imagination though.

Froog said...

Code violations? Possible, I suppose - I did tend to think of the place less as a 'fleapit' cinema and more as a 'death-trap' cinema. When I first went there, they actually had wooden seating; but they ripped that out after a year or two and replaced it those airplane-type seats. It was still always pretty alarming to see how much fire people brought into the place for the late-night Rocky Horror Picture Show week at the end of term (did they still have that institution in your time?). It was not just people holding up cigarette lighters; I swear I've seen people burning tapers of twisted newspaper in there as well! It was definitely the best place for that experience - a packed theatre of pissed-up revellers, always a few novel interjections, and doing the Timewarp in the aisles. Worth risking a fiery death for....

I loved the quirkinesses of that place: the fact that the projectionist had to climb up that steel ladder (that looked like it had been looted from a submarine) to get to the tiny projection-booth immediately above the box office; the Al Jolson 'Jazz Singer' sculpture on the facade, with the white-gloved 3D fingers reaching out imploringly to you (very un-PC, of course, these days; that might have been the reason it got closed down!); selling slices of gooey chocolate cake instead of popcorn as the cinema snack (over time, that must have added considerably to the rancidness of the seat covers); labelling the ladies & gents loos 'Pearl' and 'Dean' (a joke that none of our non-Brit friends will get).

Thanks for the Headington link. I was just wondering if there was a photo of Bill Heine's shark on the Net somewhere. I may post it on here later.

Anonymous said...

I checked out the link. That is totally random and absolutely fantastic.

When i first read about the shark, i thought about the townhouse in Georgetown that has a Giraffe on the roof, but after seeing the picture.... no, this Shark is way better.

btw, i didn't realize you two weren't there at the same time. so many of your stories/references seem to be together. and yet, this post's comments make it appear as though you were years apart. So if you didn't meet at Oxford, where did you two meet?

Froog said...

Well, we did overlap slightly. The Cowboy is a few years younger than me - but we both contrived to spend a rather longer-than-average spell at Oxford; and he was still around when I found myself drifting back into teaching jobs there after my illness. So, we really started hanging out a lot in the early '90s.... when neither of us were actually students any more.

The British Cowboy said...

I am not a few years younger than Froog. I am aeons younger. And MUCH more handsome.

What do I have on Froog? Why, I'm 2" taller, a better dancer, and much more fun to be with!

Yes, there was still the RHPS showings when I were a lad. Good times, good times. It really was a wonderful place.

I think Froog and I met a few times through mutual friends. I had it in my head for a while he was dating Lyn Anthony, but I have no idea where that idea came from. Anyway, we started really to know one another after I dropped out of my doctorate, and we were both in Oxford for pretty much the reason that we had no where better to be.

Froog said...

Now, where the heck would you have got that idea from? She has been either dating or stalking or living with JimBob for as long as either of us can remember!!

Of all the gals in all the bars in all the world.... really??!! TC maybe, LA never.

Of course, now you know me better, you realise that I never actually date anyone at all - it eats into valuable drinking time too much.

The British Cowboy said...

I think the first time I consciously met you was in the Onion gardens one summer, and Billy Joe Jim Bob and Lyn were both there. I mistook Lyn's natural flirtacious ways to a connection between you, I think.

Were you ever close to David Mackie, or did you not cross over as Corpuscles?

Froog said...

Oh, yes, I knew David. Fellow disgruntled classicists. I think he's an aeon older than you, only a few millennia younger than me.

Anonymous said...

ah, i see (LOL) thanks for the clarification.

And, TBC,

I'm going to reserve the right to not believe you until I see you. (taller than our towering Froog? Younger then his energetic 29 years? Handsomer than his heartbreaking eyes? who are you kidding?)

you might have him on the dancing bit though. I've only seen a few shoulder shrugs so can't really claim to know whether or not he can move.

and, Froog,

"Of course, now you know me better, you realise that I never actually date anyone at all - it eats into valuable drinking time too much." --- that's a great line. someone's going to quote you on that some day as their weekly bon mot.

The British Cowboy said...


I am very disappointed in you. Please tell me your not recognizing the movie line, in this thread of all threads, was the result of alien abduction...

Froog said...

Oh, you mean her not knowing 'American Werewolf'?

She has a very different cultural background from us, Cowboy. Be gentle with her. She is well-versed in Bollywood, but knows next-to-nothing about Western cinematic or musical culture.

Mind you, my other favourite blog-pal, Leah, is an all-American (well, part-Swedish - you know how it goes) Minnesotan gal..... who's never seen The Simpsons.

Hard to believe, I know - but the world is very various.

Anonymous said...

i admit to alien abduction.

and thanks for the back up, Froog. Now that you mention it, I think I did catch that film on Fox 23 on a some lazy Saturday afternoon back in the day. oh wait, maybe that was an american werewolf in paris... are the films related? I should just stop... this isn't helping my case with TBC, at all.

The British Cowboy said...

No No No...

"What do I have on Froog? Why, I'm 2" taller, a better dancer, and much more fun to be with!"

This is not an attempt to claim I am taller than Froog. It is, instead, an adapted quote from a movie classic...

Froog said...

Ah, well, I had my suspicions that was a reference, Cowboy, but I had no idea what film you had in mind either. Do enlighten us!

But if it's an Adam Sandler film (or one of the less good Will Ferrells), I'm going to start slagging off Elvis Costello again!

The British Cowboy said...

Airplane 2! for the love of God.

Airplane 2!

It is said, of course, by Jacobs, the same actor who played Johnny in the original.

Yes I know 2 is a pale imitation of 1, but it still includes such classics (mainly by this actor). Such as...

"Jacobs, I want to know absolutely everything that's happened up till now."

"Well, first the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got to big and fat, so they all died and turned into oil. And then the Arabs came and they bought Mercedes Benzes. And then Prince Charles started wearing all of Lady Di's clothes. I couldn't beleive it."

Johnny/Jacobs is sadly no longer with us. He was a victim of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. That makes me feel more than a little sad whenever I rewatch Airplane!

The British Cowboy said...

And Tulsa, you have to see 2001. If only for the single greatest ever cut shot in the history of cinema.

Froog said...

A contender, certainly.

I think I might favour Peter O'Toole extinguishing the match at the beginning of Lawrence.

Oh, and thanks for the reminder about Airplane 2. That was a great character - but forgive me the lapse of memory: I only ever saw it once, 20-odd years ago. I remember that bit about the dinosaurs, though....

The British Cowboy said...

Really? I will often put 2001 on when a little bit toasty just to watch that shot. It's stunning.

Have you discovered the joys of HD-DVD yet? I am simply gobsmacked by the quality.

The British Cowboy said...

I just purchased Airplane! and Airplane 2.. The Sequel! because I am bored of working.

I also got Spiderman 2 & 3 for some reason unbeknownst to me.

Froog said...

Ah, impulse-buying!!

You should take out a restraining order against yourself - not to be allowed within 200yds of Target.

Did you have an 'ugly' selection as well??

Froog said...

I suspect the "reason (allegedly) unbeknownst" is the lovely Kirsten. It sure as hell ain't the CGI!

Froog said...

2001 in HD? No, don't have that here yet. Not likely to have it for a good while yet. I look forward to sampling yours the next time I make it Stateside.

I think you just like watching all the screeching and cackling in the 'Dawn Of Man' episode because it reminds you so much of the Union bar.

The British Cowboy said...

I am not sure if 2001 is in HD or Blue Ray. I went with HD, because having bought a 360 it was an inexpensive add on.

I did buy 300 in HD. And WOW. Now if only they will bring out Sin City in that format I can die a happy man.

Froog said...

Returning to the Cowboy's speculation in the middle of this thread as to whether Commando held the record for "most blanks fired in a film" - well, it's a noble contender, but I doubt if it ever held the No. 1 spot.

I recall back in the late '70s or early '80s there was a (not particularly good) Clint Eastwood thrill called The Gauntlet which claimed that distinction in its promotional blurbs - remember, there's a scene at the end where the bungalow Eastwood is holed up in gets entirely demolished by gunfire?

I suspect that in more recent times the record has been claimed by Blackhawk Down.