the first 12:00 movie was a choice between the last picture show (1971) and stick it (2006). the deck was heavily stacked in stick it's favor, since i'm usually the first person to arrive, and elias revealed that was the plan all along. i'd actually seen stick up before, which is what is to gymnastics as bring it on is to cheerleading. it's kind of a jewel of a movie despite some pretty juvenile humor, but once you surrender yourself to the storytelling, there's actually some pretty poignant moments. i watched it originally for missy peregrym, who gives off a kristen stewart vibe in the film. i'm sure she had a stunt double, but peregrym seems to be capable of doing enough gymnastic moves (like standing on one hand) to at least make the stunt work appear seamless. jeff bridges seems to be slumming it here but you look at his body of work from around that time period and it seems to be par for the course (he'd yet to win an oscar). the production value of the film is surprisingly high, with a lot of differently styled shots, like crane, time-lapse, superimpositions, and speed tracking. out of all the movies we would be seeing today, this seemed to be a crowd pleaser along with the big lebowski.
the second film was a choice between crazy heart (2009) and the contender 2000. once again, the odds were stacked so that crazy heart had a good chance of getting picked (no surprise that it won the vote). the blurb elias wrote for the contender used subliminal text to sway you in the other direction. the movie was mike's personal copy and he said it's actually his favorite jeff bridges movie (more than lebowski? no way). i think crazy heart is sort of hit or miss. if you love the main character and the music, you'll love the film. unfortunately i didn't care for either, and although i was glad i saw the movie, it wouldn't have been something i'd see on my own. one of my complaints is that the alcoholic bad blake seems to get over his addiction rather abruptly; it seems like all he had to do was enter rehab, go to a group counseling session, and take a walk in the woods. for a film that spends so much time showing how his drinking has robbed him of almost everything he's ever loved, it's kind of strange that it glosses over his recovery.
normally i'm able to pick up the movie that eventually gets selected, but today i was off my game, starting with the third choice between the fisher king (1991) and the last unicorn (1982). i went with terry gilliam; the last unicorn ended up winning. i'd seen the last unicorn back in the 80's, but there's a reason why i can't remember any of it: because it's a terrible movie. the edition we saw was a standard screen version. it's actually an animated musical (perhaps trying to cash in on some of that disney magic) but the songs are not at all catchy, and the story's inappropriate for children but too childish for adults. it was funny the numerous references to an evil creature called the red bull, plus the strangest of all characters, a talking pirate cat with an eyepatch and a peg leg. i actually fell asleep for parts of the movie, i just didn't want to endure anymore than i had to. little did i know that wasn't the only "endurance" film of the marathon.
the fourth and fifth films were mandatory selections with no choices: 4:00 the big lebowski (1998), 6:00 tron (1982). lebowski was a crowd pleaser, garnering the most uproariously loud laughs. even though i'd seen the movie a bunch of times, i still caught little details i never noticed before, like donny skulking around in the background or philip seymour hoffman's hilariously expressive performance as mr.lebowski's assistant. there were actually a few people who'd never seen the film before; now they're properly caught up with the zeitgeist. tron was a different story. i personally love tron, but i got the feeling that many lady members of the audience didn't care for it too much, with the exception of the tight revealing outfits and one scene where a young jeff bridges goes topless revealing an unforeseen level of sexiness. seen through their eyes, having not grown up with tron, i can see how the film can seem kind of stupid. the story itself is sort of basic; tron earns much of its geekdom love by the fact that it was the first computer generated movie, which captured the imagination of a lot of boys my age at that time. watching it again made me even more excited about the tron sequel out in theatres in december. a cool thing about tron that i never realized was a lot of the CGI animation was done by a taiwanese company; in the credits at one point is a list of chinese animators with their names written in chinese characters (i've never seen that before in an american movie before, usually foreign names are transliterated into english).
during a break between the two movies, elias played some jeff bridges movie trailers, including the mirror has two faces (1996), white squall (1996), and the vanishing (1993). they were interesting as trailers, not sure if they'd be worthy of watching as full movies. but the one that caught everyone's attention was a trailer that didn't even have any audio because of an audio glitch: winter kills (1979). we had no idea what the movie was about, but it was so crazy it made us want to watch it.
at this point elias tallied the scores for the trivia contest. amanda and fran tied for first place, while mike and i tied for second, with chloe coming in third (though actually fifth in the prize picking pecking order). fran went with the lebowski jesus action figure, while mike took home the donny figurine. amanda won the tron diecast flying space T while i grabbed the big lebowski dvd.
the sixth film at 10:00 was a choice between starman (1984) and thunderbolt and lightfoot (1974). i thought it was an easy choice - starman being the better movie (starman is to aliens what ghost is to spirits in the sense of romantic drama) - but several voters expressed a disdain for science fiction after sitting through tron. after the votes were cast and it looked like starman would lose, i tried to lobby to get people to change their minds, but the crowd was unmoved. i didn't want to be a movie fascist and try to force my own cinematic favorites on anybody else (not that i could've really done anything anyway, given the democratic process), so i accepted the decision to watch thunderbolt and lightfoot. i overheard someone (a lady voter) saying the reason they voted for that movie was because it had clint eastwood. when the opening credits came on, catherine bach's name showed up (daisy from the dukes of hazzard, just 19 years old in 1973 when the movie was made). ah good, something for the guys! but what seemed to be a major role was only a brief cameo. thunderbolt and lightfoot is about a bank heist, but much of the film seems plotless and meandering. take for example the heist participants getting normal jobs to buy the equipment they'd need to rob the bank. normally a movie will quickly gloss over that plot point, but this movie seems to revel in the boring details, like one character not remembering his social number, or another character messing up a supply route. it stars then 23-year-old jeff bridges, along with 43-year old clint eastwood. there's no polite way to say this, BUT THIS WAS THE WORST MOVIE I'VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME AND I REGRET WATCHING IT AND WISH I COULD HAVE 2 HOURS OF MY LIFE BACK. how bridges could've earned another oscar nomination must've meant 1974 was a year of bad cinema. to add salt on the wound, most of the people who initially voted for the film were fast asleep while the rest of us needlessly endured the violation of our innocence. the ending was also a real downer, and i'm going to just spoil the movie for you by telling you that jeff bridges' character suffers some sort of brain injury during a brutal beating and ends up dying because his partner clint eastwood didn't recognize the danger signs and carried on like nothing was wrong while his partner slowly became partially paralyzed and eventually died. HOPE YOU ENJOYED THAT MOVIE! there's a real reason why the film wasn't available through netflix: it's kind of not that good. to his credit, elias did apologize to everybody afterwards for not properly screening the film beforehand and making sure it wasn't a clunker. but he probably also thought (like i did) that starman would easily win the selection. of course sometimes stinkers can become cult classics under the right circumstances. who knows, maybe thunderbolt and lightfoot will grow on me, like a malignant form of cinematic canceraid.
it was close to 12:30 by the time the guests left. i pedaled home, making sure i had all my safety lights on while i navigated out of central square. my rear blinker went off, still patiently waiting for my replacement rear bike light to arrive from hong kong. somewhere along beacon street i spotted katarina walking back home, most likely having spent the evening with pau at my place. i shouted hello to her, which surprised her at first, but a few seconds later she shouted hello back, while i was already going past her. when i got back home, pau was already asleep. he failed to turn off the heat though, set at 72 degrees. naturally i turned it back down to 60 degrees. there were dirty dishes in the sink, which i washed while getting a glass of water. at least the house doesn't sink (if they cooked, they must've ventilated).
as a side note, i tried the recycled jelly i made last night. tastes great, but i guess i didn't wash the jar well enough because it still has a pickle relish smell! maybe it was something left over on the lid.