Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Guilty Pleasures of the Cinematic Kind

In the first installment in the series "Guilty Pleasures", in which Montagers reveal their deepest, darkest cinematic favourites, Carmody Wilson unveils some rather embarrassing tastes. Film-wise, that is.

An instructor, marking a lovingly crafted paper I had written on my favourite films, remarked in his notes that I had “a taste for bad taste.” He wrote this in a chummy sort of way, as if the paper I had put together of what I thought to be excellent films, was a joke, and that it was okay for him, the esteemed film academic, to laugh at such a ridiculous and misguided choices. I was kissed off with a good mark, and that was that. I can just imagine his sanguine face contorting with disbelief had I submitted the following selections as serious contenders for that assignment. My own face is betraying my feelings about revealing these films and forming a grotesque death mask of grandiose horror. But no more. Here goes.

I really, really like Star Trek films. I cried my eyes out when Spock was left behind, cheered crazily when Sulu ordered “target that explosion and fire” and tore at my own shirt as Kirk raged against “Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!” And I don’t love these movies ironically, either. I just really love them. I even own Star Trek VI on DVD. Christopher Plummer deigned to be in, so the least you can do is watch it. I dare you not to be more excited than you have ever been at the movies in a long time. That said, I do prefer the “old” cast films to the Next Generation, but that doesn’t mean that those aren’t damned exciting too. I like to imagine Jean -Luc Picard, fresh from his traumatic experience with the Borg, laying on a luxe sofa-bed, wan and recovering. I come to him in a diaphanous gown with nursing implements, and we look knowingly in each other’s eyes as he whispers..”make it so…”

On the other, and less pornographic, end of my shabby taste register is BritComs. Yes, those movies that are usually penned by Richard Curtis and star any number of toothsome, long in the tooth, houndstoothed loveys and darlings. This stems largely from my (now) closeted Anglophilia, but also began in earnest with a love of Hugh Grant when I was a teenager. I remember renting Four Weddings and a Funeral from Video Bob in my hometown of Assiniboia not long after it came out on VHS. I was enraptured. Here was a genuinely funny movie that tugged at my horny little heartstrings and starred a floppy-haired toff who gets the girl. Sadly this girl was the execrable Andie McDowell, who, though frightening enough for her stupid pronunciation (“wouldn’t” becomes “wood ent”, and everything else comes out sounding like your pet dog was trying to speak, but was drunk, had a swollen tongue and was deeply brain damaged from birth), has one of those horrible gummy smiles where more gum than teeth actually shows, making her every appearance more gruesome than the last. But idiotic love interest notwithstanding, I was smitten. And so I rushed back to Video Bob’s and bought, again on VHS, this other Hugh Grant film I had seen moldering in a bargain bin. Clutching my purchase, I high-tailed it home and slid it into the machine. (That sounded like an altogether different experience, but never mind.) The film, “An Awfully Big Adventure” was far from the light rom-com I’d expected. The clues it wasn’t going to be a silly comedy about British people doing silly British things were immediate: Hugh Grant’s character was gay, (deeply troubling for a 14 year-old girl in a hick town where the only use of the word really meant stupid. See also “retarded.”) Equally indicative that this wasn’t a laugh-a-minute picture was that Alan Rickman, (that funny guy from Robin Hood!) has two scenes where he slowly pumps away on top of a motionless teenager (who turns out to be his daughter), and whose body is later fished out of a river with a skyhook. Also, Hugh Grant smoked.

O the shame. I couldn’t believe that I had watched such a movie, let alone owned it. ( I like it now, incidentally,) Then the whole hooker/blowjob thing happened and my innocent love of Grant was shattered. Strangely, it didn’t put me off BritComs, and when subsequent schlock-fests Notting Hill and Love, Actually came out, I was happy as a clam, chortling away at them in the cinema. I still never tire of the countless reruns they show of these and now, almost without shame will choose them every single time over any other programming when they are on.(Confession: I, on purpose, own Love, Actually on DVD. Phew! The first step is acknowledgement. The second, ignominy and suicide.)

But now that I have exhausted and shamed myself, I am in a very dark place. I need to rush out and get some sunshine and maybe The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain and The Wrath of Khan on DVD.

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