January 8, 2013

Retroview: 7 Movies That Changed The Way I Think About Movies

A Retroview Review. This one had been a part of a "7 movies that changed the way we think about movies" list...
7. Rushmore

When I saw Rushmore for the first time, I was blown away. At the time, my movie watching experience was that of children's movies, schlocky big budget movies, and schlockier "wide audience" comedies, and while I had movies that I really had a great time watching, I didn't really connect with anything in any meaningful way. In fact, I didn't see much of an art to movies, I thought of them as pure entertainment. Then I saw Rushmore, and it showed me that movies can be so much more than a cheesy love story or large explosions. There could be a subtlety to movies that I previously just didn't notice.

6. Rope

Not my first Hitchcock movie, but the first that blew my mind. Another movie rife with subtlety, Hitchcock's ability shone bright enough that my young mind opened up and started to see that movies didn't just have to have simple plots, and that tension could be built with not only clever dialogue and terrific body language, but with minute lighting changes and camera placement.

5. The Searchers

This one is kind of a cop out, because The Searchers was honestly just the first Western I saw that showed me that Westerns could be awesome. Before I saw it, my young mind categorized Westerns as "those dumb, old movies about stupid cowboys." And, while The Searchers is old, and was when I saw it, and it was about cowboys and the old west, it was about so much more than that. Again with the subtlety kick, but The Searchers showed me that Westerns, like other brilliant movies, could subtly be about more than it's setting, it could touch on human issues that have been relevant throughout time.

4. Pierrot Le Fou

Ah yes, French New Wave. I had filed FNW movies under "that artsy crap that no one understands or actually likes" until I saw Pierrot Le Fou. It's true that I had no idea what was happening throughout most of the movie that first time, because the movies I'd seen up to that point were all pretty cut and dry on how to arrange things like "plot" and "camera angles." That said, I loved it. It showed me that movies that took me outside of my comfort zone could be fun, and that there was a whole universe of "artsy crap" to delve into, just waiting to be understood and liked.

3. The White Room

When I mentioned this movie in the Soundtracks list (two lists ago), I said the short story about this movie is that this band wanted to make a movie and that it went horribly wrong. Well there's no way I'm going to go into the whole story, but the slightly longer version is that this crazy duo, The KLF, made a movie for some crazzzzzy reasons (that post is forth coming). Their plan was to make a movie within a movie (possibly with bookends as well, but I'll have to check on that to be sure), and while filming the innermovie, they ran out of money. They didn't even finish filming everything they wanted for the inner movie, and what they did shoot looked awful. But they still realllly wanted to make the thing, so they scheduled a private showing of the material they had filmed and edited, hoping to get more money from investors to complete the movie. The investors watched the ~60 minutes of film, and straight turned them down. The movie was abandoned, never to be shown again. But the weird thing is that you can find copies of it. And it's on the internet. How is a complete mystery to me. All of this only partically blows my mind. What really blows my mind is that, after tracking down the movie (the only two lines of dialogue dubbed in Russian) it's actually a pretty good experiment in tone. It's the chillest movie I've ever seen. This hardly even starts to scratch the surface of the story behind this movie, but that's enough for now. I can't believe something like this exists is essentially my point.

2. Gone With The Wind

Straight up a genius movie. I saw it in a hotel room halfway between home and MN to see relatives. As a young child, I was not a fan of "old" movies, probably strictly on the basis that they were "old." But because this movie is pure magic, and stumbling on it after flipping on the hotel TV to surf around before bed, my sister and I were sucked in. We sat, probably slack jawed, and sucked in every moment. It proved to me that "old" movies could be good.

1. Borderline (1930)

Here's the daddy of them all. I'm gonna need a bigger blog post (to fully express my adoration for this movie). Borderline is a simple movie, from plot, to camera angles, to dialogue. But it's so drastically different from basically every movie out there, in camera work, plot, mise-en-scene, pacing, etcetcetc, especially considering when it came out. Macphereson (the director/screenwriter) took his camera, pointed it at the actors, and lingered on them for far longer than would seem appropriate, forcing us to delve deep into the image. Frequently there are shots just of people's hands, or people just staring at one another, shots which evoke a feeling of uncomfortableness in me that I cringe when thinking about them, but a good sort of cringe. It's an effective movie, one that shook me to my core. I hadn't known that was truly possible until watching this movie. Brilliant.

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