Thursday, July 17, 2008

Some Movies Are Better Left Remembered

My noggin is a plethora of movie knowledge. It is jammed with remembrances of past movies. Of scenes. Of lines. Of shot techniques. I can't remember birthdays of loved ones, but I can sure as heck remember who the director of photography was for The Limey (Ed Lachman and by the way he also has a cameo in the movie just in case you were wondering). But the memory is a funny kind of thing. Sometimes a memory can be harsher than it has to be. And sometimes the old memory has a nice pair rosy colored glasses on. I'm sure a lot of how memory works has to do with the time, the occasion and the state of the world. For example, I saw The Glass House a couple of days after 9/11. I loved it because it was exactly what I needed. I'm sure if I revisited it again I would no doubt hate it, but at the time it was a nice fuzzy warm blanket.

Some movies are as good as I remember. Sometimes they're better. There's nothing more rewarding than discovering a movie is even better than you remember it. Or means something different today than it did several years ago. I am always amazed at how much richer The Royal Tenenbaums becomes with each new viewing. I suppose those movies would move into the classic category for their ability to capture a storyline or emotions that are timeless.

Then there are movies that aren't as good as you remember. For instance, I recently re-watched Brian DePalma's The Fury. When it comes to old-school Brian DePalma, I'm unapologetic. I love Phantom of the Paradise. Dressed To Kill. Body Double. I feel that Blow Out is not only a good movie, but a masterful one.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I would have added The Fury to that list. My memory of the movie was of brilliant snippets. Of the opening scene at the beach. Of Amy Irving walking the beach with her red locks of hair and girl-next-door innocence. Of the beautiful slow-motion mayhem towards the end of the movie. My memory sort of glossed over the other parts. The awkward conversations about nothing that involved strange camera angles as if DePalma was saying "yeah I know this scene sucks, but I have to have it so at least I'll make it interesting looking." The idiotic attack on the middle-easterners. And the random and unnecessary car chase between Kirk Douglas and the police.

Truth be told, seeing The Fury again really bummed me out. Seeing it again reminded me of why I avoid his more recent movies because they are without a nucleus. Of random sometimes brilliant scenes that are somehow not related. To me, DePalma is the essence of that film movement. Self-indulgent, sometimes brilliant with a slight chance of implosion. Seeing The Fury again made me wish I left well enough alone. To just remember it as being a much better movie than it is and to recommend it right up there with all the others. Stupid memory.


Anonymous said...

You mentioned Body Double. Talk about a blast from the past.
The main actor in that movie looks just like Bill Maher

Anonymous said...

You lost me at "idiotic attack on the middle-easterners"-- did you not understand what was going on in that scene? It seems to me to be central to the entire plot, because it gives us an abstract indication of just what Childress and his secret operatives hope to gain by channeling Robin's powers (they've purposely ingrained a complete hatred of middle-easterners into Robin's psyche in the hopes of harnessing his power for their own corrupt purposes), but also shows us how unpredictible such a tool can be-- Robin is a loose cannon. They've created a monster with a monstrous fury. So if by idiotic, you mean the monsters who've created/warped Robin's mind, without thought that he might fly off the handle and do destructive things that they'd never imagined, then I guess I understand. But otherwise, you've lost me.

PIPER said...

Anon 1:

The guy's name is Craig Wasson and I'm not really sure what happen to his career. He showed up in a casting session once that I was involved with for a commercial and it was weired.

Anon 2:

Yeah, I understood what was going on in that scene. And I understand how important that scene was and how it had to build on the opening scene. But like a lot of Brian DePalma's films, it's all spectacle and no thought. Seriously, middle-easterners on a carnival ride? I just think that there could have been some more thought put into it.

I think of the scene in Marathon Man where the old woman recognizes Szell on the street. It's obviously built on past history and it was such a powerful scene but on a much smaller scale.

Anonymous said...

I really want a body double poster for my man room.

PIPER said...

It's a good poster. I used to have one when I was a teenager. Can't believe my parents let me keep it up. And I'm killing myself that I bring it along.

elgringo said...

My girlfriend and I just watched The Fury for the first time. We both thought it was rad. No memories to refer back to, but on a first viewing, it definitely worked.

Also, this post reminded me of one of my favorite blogs: Natsukashi: Nostalgia Through Film

Go check them out, their posts are always entertaining.

Jason Soto said...

Wait...The Glass House? The one about that girl who's adopted or something by this family and they have some secrets or something and possibly they're trying to kill her or something?
Wow, I forgot all about that movie.

I haven't seen too much DePalma's movies. I did see "Snake Eyes" starring the dreaded Nic Cage and didn't think it was THAT bad.

Adam Ross said...

Good post, I had a similar experience when revisiting "The People Under the Stairs." I remembered it as a riot of a movie, but seeing it through my more mature eyes I could tell it was made for high schoolers, which is how I was able to enjoy it the first time.

I've only seen "The Fury" once, and enjoyed it, same with "Snake Eyes," and I KNOW I don't need to watch that again.

PIPER said...


I remember not liking The People Under the Stairs, but thought I might revisit it again. But maybe I shouldn't.

This post is obviously bigger than The Fury. It covers lots of movies that we remember being better than they actually were.

For the record, I remember Cannonball Run being pretty damn funny. And it still is.

whitney said...

I actually really liked this movie. I watched in just a couple days ago (which strikes me as an eerie, ESP-induced coincidence?) and thought it was campy and fun. At least, I think it is as good as Phantom of the Paradise, if only for the last 30 minutes or so.


Fox said...

I gotta disagree with you here. I still love me some The Fury. But I am a pretty biased Brian DePalma fanatic.

Did you at least still enjoy the levitating and exploding Cassavettes??

PIPER said...

I liked it the from the first angle and the first cut. It got a little excessive from there.

Thomas Pluck said...

I recently watched this and reviewed it- I can enjoy DePalma, but this one seems too similar to the far superior Carrie. It makes me wonder why he took it.

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