Friday, April 26, 2024

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: Stay (I Missed You) 1994

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this week's song, a woman is accused of only hearing what she wants to. "Selective listening" is when you choose to focus on what's important to you and ignore what isn't. Are you often, sometimes, or never guilty of selective listening? The lyrics begin with, "You say I only hear what I want to/You say I talk all the time, so ..." I'm guilty on both counts.

2) She turns the radio up when she hears her favorite song. What song have you recently sung along to? This morning I inexplicably heard myself singing along with "Deep Purple" on my shower radio. I was surprised because I wasn't aware I knew the lyrics. "In the mist of a memory you wander on back to me, breathing my name with a sigh ..." I can't remember where I left my phone, but I can recall the lyrics to a song I don't even like. Go figure.

3) This week's featured artist, Lisa Loeb, has always been a big reader. Her band was called Nine Stories as a tribute to her favorite author, JD Salinger. If you were to name a band to honor your favorite author, what would you call it, and why? The Six-Fingered Sword. If you've read (or seen) The Princess Bride, you know why.

4) This week's song is her first and biggest hit. "Stay" was on the soundtrack of Reality Bites, a movie starring her friend and one-time neighbor Ethan Hawke. Ethan gave this song to the film's director, Ben Stiller, who agreed it was perfect for the film's closing credits. When you watch a movie, do you stick around for the closing credits? Most of them, but not all.

5) In the 1990s, Lisa was popular for her style and appeared on many magazine covers, causing People magazine to comment, "Though she rose to fame as a singer, she's probably just as well known for her glasses." Do you wear glasses? If yes, do you consider your eyewear purely functional, there to improve your sight, or are your glasses an extension of your personal style? I'm very near-sighted, and during covid I discovered I like how I look better in glasses than in contacts. So I pay more attention to my frames as an accessory than I used to.

My current frames

6) Today Lisa does a show on Sirius Radio, and she enjoys broadcasting while her favorite collaborator, her cat, sits on her shoulder. Is there a pet in the room with you as you answer these questions? Yes. My Connie Cat is right beside me.

7) Lisa raises funds for SCOPE, a charity that helps children from low-income families attend summer camp. When you were a kid, did you go to camp? Girl Scout daycamp every day for a week each summer. I really kinda hated it.

8) In 1994, when this song was popular, the nation's attention was riveted to a white Bronco driven by a man named Al Cowlings. Without looking it up, can you recall why this was newsworthy? OJ Simpson's infamous slow-speed chase.

9) Random question: Can you do a cartwheel? HA! Thursday I had to get down on the floor to pick up a tomato that had fallen out of a customer's lunch bag and rolled under one of the display cases at the card shop. I had such a hard time getting up that I thought I might die there. It was very humbling. If I can't easily rise up from the floor, no way am I gonna turn a cartwheel!

Let's Go to the Movies

12 movies on 6 screens over 4 days. It was glorious!

Day 1. Two films, both in Chinese Multiplex 4.

Only Yesterday (1933). It opens with the Crash of 1929. James Stanton, already depressed about his loveless marriage, has lost everything and is contemplating suicide while his wife entertains New York's elite in the next room. He's literally holding the gun in his hand when he sees an envelope on his desk. It's a thick letter from Mary Lane, a girl with whom he'd had a casual fling before the War. What could she possibly have to say to him? From there the story is told in flashback. I always love pre-code movies because of their natural, healthy approach to sex. Almost forgotten now, it was a big hit in '33 and introduced us to Margaret Sullavan. I guess she's almost forgotten now, too, huh? (New to me)

Grand Hotel (1932). The goings-on in Berlin's plushest hotel. This movie has an all-star cast led by Garbo, who I don't much like, and includes two (!) Barrymores and Joan Crawford. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Even Garbo, who "vants to be alone." Lionel and John Barrymore steal the show, though. Especially debonair ladies' man John who, alone in his room, literally rolls around with his dog and confesses this good little boy is the only thing he truly loves. C'mon! How can your heart not break for a dog lover? (New to me)

Day 2. Four films, bouncing between the El Capitan, Egyptian, Chinese Multiplex 1 and Chinese Multiplex 4.

101 Dalmatians (1961). "Cruella deVille, Cruella deVille, if she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will." It's the songs in Disney movies that always stick with me. This film was introduced by a Disney animator from the olden days who explained how being able to Xerox the backgrounds revolutionized the creative process and enabled Disney Studios to keep making "cartoons," which (surprisingly to me) cost so much more than the Hayley Mills movies and Mickey Mouse Club TV Show they'd been cranking out.

That's Entertainment (1974). A compilation of MGM's greatest hits. I saw it back when I was in high school and it was the gateway drug to my classic film addiction, so it seemed fitting to watch it again here.

Lady Sings the Blues (1972). Introduced by Billy Dee Williams, this was a highlight for me. Not just because I have always enjoyed the film, but because my late friend John was such a massive Diana Ross fan. Last time I saw it on the big screen, I was sitting beside him. So this was very emotional, almost like my own personal memorial for my dear old friend. But I'm so angry at him for dying so I couldn't tell him all about Billy Dee and the crowd.

Jailhouse Rock (1957). This is a great movie musical. Yes, I truly believe that. Yes, I will die on this hill. I am so used to people mocking Elvis' movies, and many of them deserve to be mocked, but not this one and watching it at night, on the big screen in a theater filled with the faithful, was a delight. I learned something new: the script was originally written for Gene Kelly! MGM didn't want to make it in 1953 because the screenwriter was blacklisted and by 1957 they felt Kelly was too old. With a few tweaks -- the old con Vince shares a cell with was changed from a vaudevillian to a country singer, and instead of opening a New York supper club, Vince starts his own record label -- and, naturally, a complete new soundtrack, Untitled Musical became Jailhouse Rock.

Day 3. Three films at the Egyptian and the TCL IMAX.

The Mad Miss Manton (1938). OK, this is kind of a stupid movie. But I enjoyed seeing it with my Chicago movie group moderator because Will loves Stanwyck and I'm often in love with young Henry Fonda. (Or maybe I'm in love with young Jimmy Stewart, depends on who I've seen most recently). 

Westward the Women (1952). Remember the 1970s TV Show, Here Come the Brides? This is a grittier black and white movie version. Robert Taylor leads 150 women from Chicago over the Rockies to the California Valley, where they will become wives. The thing I liked best about it was that, after the girls face some genuinely grueling and terrifying shit, they get to the Valley and let the men know they will choose who they marry, not the other way around. Enduring all that gave them, in new millennium parlance, agency. PS The dog does NOT die! (New to me)

On the Waterfront (1954). A nearly perfect movie, with a beautiful performance by Marlon Brando. The older I get, the more conflicted I am about how/why it was made, since it was Elia Kazan's cinematic excuse for naming names during The Blacklist. How to separate what's on the screen -- which is breathtaking -- from the motivation of the filmmaker -- which was cowardly and compromised? Maybe I don't have to. On the big screen, it was wrenching. PS The pigeons DO die!

Day 4. 3.5 films at Chinese Multiplex 1, Chinese Multiplex 6, Chinese Multiplex 4, and the Chinese IMAX. 

My gift from Liz
National Velvet (1944). Velvet Brown loves The Pie, a gorgeous but wild stallion. Velvet's mother loves her and encourages her to run the horse in The Grand National. This is the beautiful technicolor fairytale that made Elizabeth Taylor a star. Introduced by Tim Mendelson, Liz' executive assistant for the last 20 years of her life, trustee of her estate and now an officer of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. He had lovely stories about her and gave each of us a little swag as we left the theater. Again, I'm so pissed at my friend John for being dead, because he would have loved hearing about this. (New to me)

The Big Heat (1953). Remember Violet, Bedford Falls' blonde bad girl in It's a Wonderful Life? She is fucking awesome in this film noir. She is the blissfully happy girlfriend of a bad guy on the rise, until he does something genuinely awful to her. (<<< I won't tell you what.) That was a mistake, because Girlfriend knows how to exact revenge. I'm making her part sound bigger than it was, because I thought she was equally authentic as daffy and dangerous. Loved her! (New to me)

Prisoner of Shark Island (1936). This is the story of Dr. Samuel Mudd's time in prison in the Dry Tortugas. I've been to Fort Jefferson and it was more accurately recreated than it needed to be, which I appreciated. It was thrilling, even though I already knew the bare bones of the story. John Carradine played a very bad bad man. His son, Keith, said his father's movies gave him nightmares as a kid. He'd dream he was on his trike, pedaling to get away from his dad, who was chasing him while wearing a red cape. Like I said, a very bad bad man! (New to me)

Spaceballs (1987). I don't care for Star Wars or sci-fi and I thought this was stupid, so I didn't stay for the whole thing. But I'm glad I went because it was introduced by Mel Brooks and damn, he's funny. Quick and irreverent and strangely obsessed with sour cream (don't ask). The man is a treasure. This is the first time I've seen him since learning that the character of Buddy on The Dick Van Dyke Show was based on him. How I would have loved to hang around with Mel and Carl Reiner. (New to me)

Loved my hotel. Loved the festival. Loved being among the TCM movie nerds once again. Here's hoping I can return in 2025.