Thursday, July 9, 2009

Meet Me at the Movies

I watch absurd amounts of movies. Absurd. I feel a deep affinity with The Gilmore Girls because we both value copious amounts of food and film. My dad is a filmmaker, so movies - they were always on, we were always watching them, it's just what we DID. Once, I was applying for a job at Blockbuster, and one of the questions on the application was: How many movies do you watch a month? I think I answered about ten, but in actuality, I probably average around twenty, maybe thirty. Canceling my Netflix a few years ago was a painful decision, but my Blockbuster Rewards card has MORE than paid for itself . It's not accurate to say that movies are my LIFE (I'm in art school, not film school after all) but they're definitely a big part of it.

There is a drawback to being such a cinemaphile, though. "Dinner and a movie" isn't just a generic date for me; it's my default hang out. Always spending time with people like this gets redundant, and there's a certain level of alienation inherent in staring at a glowing box beside someone else. I frequently have to remind myself to mix it up, but in moderation, I don't think watching a few movies with some friends is bad at all. On the contrary, with a little planning and the right friends, it can be intensely awesome.

Planning a movie night turns an ordinary experience into an EVENT. The activity is automatically imparted with some sense of occasion, which I think makes it a little more special and memorable. If you were a total Martha, you could go all crazy and throw up some movie posters, get little striped boxes for popcorn, maybe slip your pimply-faced younger brother a twenty to stand at your fridge labeled "concessions" handing people sodas - whatever. But I don't think you need to give yourself a complete hysterectomy just to make your movie-watching more than Another Night with the Friends. I say, all you need is a good menu and a good theme, and the rest will take care of itself.

The menu is the easy part. When watching a movie, who wants to be fiddling with a knife, searching for a napkin, and wondering if a pea just fell in their shirt while the killer is finally being unmasked? There's a reason movies get paired with finger foods, so get grabby with stuff like pigs in a blanket or veggie sushi. For more substantial eats, calzoni or mini quiches work great. If you want to keep it simple, stick with popcorn but kick it up a notch. One of my favorite ways to eat popcorn is a little melted Earth Balance with a generous helping of nutritional yeast. Try it with an infused oil or caramel coating. (Okay, okay, we've all had it this way, but if you've been vegan for a while, it's probably been a hot minute.) You could also forego popcorn altogether and get your crunch from cauliflower popcorn or roasted chickpeas in your favorite spices. Top the evening off with cupcakes or rootbeer floats.

As for the theme... well, the theme is the most important part, so you can't cop out! Sure, you could default into a trilogy like Aliens* or The Godfather or you could play the greatest hits from your favorite director. Other cop outs include eighties teen comedies or classic horror flicks, but if you're reading this blog, you're way too interesting to throw a movie night like that. You are fully aware that other movies can come in threes, too - like movies...

+ with main characters named Hannah
+ featuring Brad Pitt's butt in a supporting role
+ that take place in Morocco
+ that got nominated but did not win Academy Awards twenty years ago
+ without which there would be no Wes Anderson
+ you watched all the time as a kid but haven't seen since

Here are some more specific lists I made:

zombie comedies
Not all zombie movies have the gravity of a Romero or Fulci. Here are three oft forgot zombie classics that will make you giggle while rotting your braaaaains.

Dead Alive: zombie apocalypse cuts the chord for a serious mama's boy; romance for more than the main character leads to zombie babies; features a totally zAnY zombie priest.
Re-Animator: predictable results when a re-animation serum is introduced to a morgue; zombies with lobotomies and girlie-girl screams; wonderfully gore-filled ending.
Return of the Living Dead: army loses a can of quarantined zombie that explodes in a medical supplies warehouse; goofy isolated dance sequence in cemetery with cranky, naked punk rock girl.

offbeat romances
Yes, there were movies like Moldy Peaches songs before Juno. I've even mentioned some before.

Wristcutters: see this post.
Harold and Maude: yep, same post.
True Romance: forgotten Tarantino film about a comic book nerd that marries the prostitute hired to bang him on his birthday; Samuel L. Jackson screaming about how much he loves cunilingis and Gary Oldman in a goofy fucking wig.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Michel Gondry proving some feelings just won't go away.

movies you weren't meant to laugh at
Nothing gets people talking like a movie that's completely over-the-top or under-produced, or flat out never should have been made.

Braveheart: I'm definitely stirring some controversy with this one, but I don't know howwww anyone takes this movie seriously; how can you take ANYTHING Mel Gibson made seriously?** In this one, he attempts an accent, flashes his butt, and dives into the water on a horse. DIVES INTO THE WATER ON A HORSE. No other plot points are relevant.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - impossibly upper-middle class girls struggling with impossibly upper-middle class problems; scoff at Alexis Bleidel as Greek and everyone and everything in NYC being THAT cool; painfully heteronormative BUT - The Pants get bedazzled this time. (aside: how did I get suckered into watching either 1 or 2..?)
Glitter: remember when Mariah Carey made a movie? I haven't seen it, but it's still used as a gold standard for awful movies. That and Gigli. HAS to be worth it.

movies that incorporate animal liberation
Yeah, I can't think of any movies where that's WHAT the movie is about, but here are three flicks with some vegan themes.

Dead Alive: I know this already got brought up, but its applications are broad!
28 Days Later: the whole world goes zombie after a failed animal liberation.
12 Monkeys: Bruce Willis time traveling; Brad Pitt as c-c-c-crazy (with his butt in a supporting role); occasional props that hint at The City of Lost Children; kind of strange cinematography.

* I refuse to acknowledge anything after the third in the same way some Star Wars fans refuse to regard the new ones.
** I think it goes without saying that Mad Max movies are exempt from this statement.


  1. I really want to plan a movie night now! Great suggestions!

  2. 'Return of the Living Dead' is also set in Louisville, KY and has the amazing line: "send more cops!"

  3. I know they say, "Send more medics." Do they also say, "Send more cops?" Either way - amazing. Ain't no coast like the no-coast!