FIVE FROM THE FIRE #5
john cribbs & jordanna kalman
Ok Jordanna Kalman - here is your challenge.
You're strolling down a sidewalk in beautiful downtown Poughkeepsie when none other than Nikki Sixx runs up to you - his hair disheveled, mascara smudged around his eyes, large and white as twin glaciers.
"Jordie!" he screams as he grabs both your shoulders intensely.
"Nikki?" you reply.
"Jordie, you've got to help me - I was nodding off after a Big Fix in some building...when I came to, Mick Mars and Alice Cooper's roadies were gone and a lit cigarette from my hand had set the entire structure ablaze! I thought it was just some abandoned warehouse, but it is in fact FULL OF ALL THE MAJOR FILMS OF FIVE NOTEWORTHY FILMMAKERS! And it's all going up in smoke as we speak!"
You slap him. He still looks pretty shaky so you slap him again. It's fun slapping Nikki Sixx. Then you place your hands on his shoulders reassuringly. "Nikki...tell me where this warehouse is."
He takes you down the street, and it's worse than you thought. Not only is it a warehouse full of the only prints of certain films, it's full of the only prints of all the films directed by:
WES ANDERSON MEL BROOKS HAL HARTLEY
JOHN HUGHES KEN KWAPIS
There's no time to panic, and absolutely no time to check the internet to find out who Ken Kwapis is! You've got just enough time to save FIVE movies from the entire oeuvre of these five masters. Jordanna...which films do you save???
ps. In this scenario we're just going to say you are not pregnant, and free to risk only your own life to rescue some of these movies.
I could most definitely save five films whilst pregnant, it's really a no-brainer here so I'll be in and out. I hate to make some obvious choices but here I go...
Firstly I would go for Rushmore since it's my favorite film. I feel like it came out at a time when I still was able to enjoy movies and music, before hipsters ruined everything. I guess Wes had a lot to do with being an influence on garbage like Lost in Translation, Squid and the Whale, Napoleon Dynamite, Rocket Science, etc.
Maybe I should let it burn as to not let it be an influence ever again.
But I won't. How could I live in a world if I could never see Max Fischer introduce Mr. Bloom to his father? It's the amazing moments like that that hold Rushmore together. Sadly, The Royal Tenenbaums doesn't work. Even though it also has some terrific moments, it's a mess of a movie. But I have to save it from the fire. Gene Hackman seems like he's having such a good time and Luke Wilson gives his best performance to date. Plus, I think the mess is interesting - you can see how Anderson's obsession with cinematic influences, visual details and soundtrack slop up the film.
Next,I will of course go to save Spaceballs, which I saw in the theater when I was ten years old and thought was the funniest thing I'd ever seen. This was before I saw any of the Star Wars or Alien movies, or Blazing Saddles for that matter. The movie just gets better and better every time I see it because now I understand the references and the more subtle jokes (like being in space sans space helmet-- how are they breathing?!) It's a parody movie but it seems like so much more than that. Maybe because I saw it before I knew it was a parody movie so the characters don't seem like jokes, they're just funny.
So here's a pickle, do I rescue Blazing Saddles or The Producers? I guess it comes down to do I like racism jokes or Hitler jokes better? I have to think about it.
There's no need to save any of John Hughes' overrated movies.
So I guess it's time I fess up, John... I really don't like Hal Hartley. I only watched his films because I liked you and now that we're married and I'm carrying your child I think it's safe to tell you I think he stinks. He's really pretentious and boooooooring.
And that leaves us with Ken Kwapis. How dare you assume that I dont know who he is! I told you who he was! And yes, I'm saving Vibes. (That's weird, I'm watching TV and Julian Sands just came on and he's in Vibes, when he was younger and attractive). Vibes is a charming movie with a charming cast and I am proud to save it.
In the end I've saved:
Rushmore The Royal Tenenbaums Spaceballs
Vibes Blazing Saddles
I had to pick Blazing Saddles because while deciding I kept thinking "watch - me - faggots!" and it cracks me up.
My choices sure do make me sound sophisticated. We should really get on those "classy movie viewings" you keep promising me.
You know what's hilarious: in his Five from the Fire Eric Pfriender questioned whether Ted Kotcheff was the director of Dunston Checks In. He's not. That would be...Ken Kwapis.
I had a sneaking suspicion you hated Hal Hartley but it took this little experiment to bring it out. Now that everything's out in the open: pack your bags, leave the baby by the back door on your way out. Just kidding - certainly his last three or four features make him pretty hard to defend. I almost gave you Werner Herzog, now I'm glad I didn't! I guess I kinda thought you enjoyed Henry Fool... but that's fine. No couple likes all the same stuff (for example, Cy Twombly stinks.)
The Hartley films are obviously pretty similiar - it seems like saving one would be enough to keep his former spirit alive. But it would be hard for me to choose between The Unbelievable Truth, Trust, Surviving Desire and Henry Fool. Those movies are all so good. So pretentious... Soooooo boring...
I like that you decided to preserve the memory of Dom Deluise ("Oh wait - wait for me to get out of the shot!") over John Hughes. I guess I thought maybe you'd save Some Kind of Wonderful, but then that's not actually directed by Hughes and therefore ineligible. So that one's a gift... from, from your wife.
Rushmore is indeed a no-brainer, but I'd gladly sacrifice the amazing line in Tenenbaums ("I just want to say the past six days have been the best six days of probably my whole life."/"Immediately after making this statement, Royal realized it was true.") and Gene Hackman saying "Let's shag ass!" and "You heard me, Coltrane" for movies without Ben Stiller in a stupid wig being completely useless. And Life Aquatic? If that movie had an ankle I'd slit its Achilles tendon to guarantee it didn't make it out of the fire alive.
It's hard to think of a world where the only Producers available is the excrement that is the Nathan Lane-Matthew Broderick musical. Not a world I'd want to raise a child in. But you didn't make a bad choice - Lili Von Shtupp, Hedy Lamarr (that's Hedley!), Sheriff Bart... it's just one of the funniest movies of all time, not to mention one of the best westerns. Sadly, if I found myself blinded by flames and mad on fumes I'd probably pick both Producers and Blazing Saddles over Spaceballs, if for no other reason than you and I could probably quote Spaceballs from beginning to end (with a little help from Kyle Miller) and it'd be just as good.
I guess that's sort of besides the point. I could easily do the same with either of the other two Mel Brooks movies... but frankly I guess they're just better films overall.
That is a shame about Men in Tights... and Curly Sue...
So for the record, I appreciate your Hartley-less decisions, and my choices would be:
(And maybe The Beautician and the Beast - sorry Vibes).
Stay tuned: next week will bring another Five from the Fire - find out what noted cheesesteak enthusiast John Cribbs would save from the filmographies of five hilariously unrelated directors! I'll give you a hint: it involves a dog named "Ma Barker!" Bark-er!
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