Let me preface this by saying: I'm an idiot. Not the clumsy but engaging Mr. Bean type of clownish fool. Or even the bumbling but charming Hugh Grant brand of oaf. More the ‘authority figure giving you a look of disgusted disbelief before saying “what is wrong with you?” in a way that makes you think “yeah, what is wrong with me?” before sobbing' style of dimwit. If I were being generous, I'd say I was readily capable of making poor decisions. If generosity was not a factor, I'd say I was a complete turkey. This utter void of self-awareness is most often displayed when it comes to movies. I never realise that my choice of viewing on a particular evening is what psychologists would describe as ‘a really stupid thing to pick, what is wrong with you?' To which I respond, ‘Yeah, what is wrong with me?' before sobbing.
Thundercrack is many things: pornographic, sick, disturbing, interminable, painful, stomach churning, depressing and hideous. But there is one thing it definitely isn't: a date movie. In fact, if you do take a date to see Thundercrack and they seem happy with your choice, you need to either marry them or change your identity and move to a place they won't be able to find you. Like Singapore. I chose Singapore. For the uninitiated, Thundercrack starred cult filmmaker George Kuchar and involved a variety of sexually unpleasant things involving cucumbers, gorillas and vomit. My heartfelt apologies are still extended to the young lady I took to the Scala to see this in 1991. It was a misjudgement.
I don't know if this was some kind of psychological experiment I was conducting on myself due to boredom or a form of performance art (or possibly a full scale mental breakdown) but for a while, as a video store clerk, the only film I would recommend to people was Straw Dogs. In my ‘staff picks' section, there would be Straw Dogs or nothing. Young, beautiful, affluent San Franciscan couples would approach the counter and ask ‘have you seen anything good...' and before they could finish the sentence I would answer ‘Straw Dogs'. They'd grab the box, look dubious, shrug, rent it and then angrily return it, never asking me for anything ever again. Mission accomplished.
GOODBYE DRAGON INN
My film tastes run along the same lines as John Waters. I love anything foreign, pretentious and slow. The slower the better. And I wished that other people shared this inclination. But they don't. Just me and John Waters it seems. Goodbye Dragon Inn, made by Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-liang, isn't profane and borderline illegal like Thundercrack. It's more a trial of endurance. If your idea of kicks is an elderly woman in a leg brace slowly climbing stairs to give someone a steamed bun, then do I have the blockbuster for you. I could feel my date visibly tense as she saw just how many stairs there were, how slowly this woman was moving and the gradual realisation that we were going to see her stagger up every single one. She may have cried, I've possibly blocked it out.
This is an excellent example of my previously mentioned stupidity. I broke up with a girl at the zoo in Washington DC. I'm not sure why this venue was chosen. Possibly I thought it might be best to be out in public and also monkeys tend to throw positive perspective onto everything. After the break-up, which was painless and inevitable, we tried to decide what to do next. I suggested we go to the nearby Uptown movie theatre. I can't remember what was playing but during the trailers my recently former girlfriend leaned across and pointed out that this was the venue for our first ever date, where we'd seen Vertigo is the first flushings of attraction and happiness. I'd forgotten that fact.
A quick one. This was another video store suggestion. I'd either seen this Michael Winterbottom version of the Hardy novel and repressed it, or hadn't seen it and assumed it was just some fairly standard BBC style bodice and bonnet affair. Which if course it isn't. It's immensely harrowing and probably the worst thing to suggest to a woman who is eight months pregnant.
There comes a point in every relationship, every failed relationship, where you sell out your significant other. This can be done either emotionally or physically. You let them take the blame for something that was entirely your fault. Or else you choose something or someone over them. Which I think is exactly what Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt is about. That tipping point when one of the people involved realises there's an alternative to the relationship and suddenly you're released and you don't have to care anymore. And every time I seem to reach that point with someone, I always seem to be watching Contempt. Which sucks because it's a really good film.