Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

The Final Countdown

Alrighty Kids. This is something I’ve been thinking about writing
about for a long and because I know you’re all dying to know this
information, I’ve finally decided to impart it to you. Don’t you feel
special?

So, the next few emails (six to be exact) will be accounts of my
favorite movies. I’m giving you my top 5.5 movies. You’ll see why
there’s the extra half eventually, but I like to build a little
antici…….say it………..pation.

It wasn’t until I started working in this business that I actually
found any need to consider listing my top movies, but in many
interviews I’m asked what my favorite movie is, or my favorite
television show (don’t worry, I’ll write about that sometime soon). I
mean, what better business for me to be in than one that asks me
questions like that in an interview? Anyway, after much thought and
deliberation, here is the list I came up with.

So here goes…drum roll please. My fifth favorite movie of all time
is REALITY BITES.
Ethan Hawke, Winona Rider (pre-klepto), Steve Zahn, Janeane Garofalo,
John Mahoney, I mean, really, could you ask for more than that. Yes?
Well, here goes.

It’s funny because, as a writer, I usually write stuff that’s not
really broken down by a genre. I’m not writing Romantic Comedy, or
Drama, or Horror. I like writing drama that happens to have humor in
it. I like writing stories where two people get together in the end,
but not in a ‘here’s where the leading man and leading lady have the
big show stopping kiss.’ Most of my favorite movies, however, are
exactly this. They’re romantic comedies. I came to this realization
a while ago and as much as it pains me to admit, I love romantic
comedies. They give me little butterflies in my stomach, just like
when I’ve got crushes on people. I love the little butterflies.

Now, as you see my top five movies as this list goes on you’ll see
that those aren’t necessarily romantic comedies but many of the movies
I watch over and over again are Rom Coms. I love Moonstruck, When
Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, the list goes on. But the
thing about the two Romantic Comedies that make the top five list are
that they have a sort of different take on things.

So without further adieu, Reality Bites. Basically, the thing that I
love so much about this movie is it’s a sort of Gen X response to
life, in the form of a Romantic Comedy. I mean, you’ve got these four
friends who just graduated from college and they are experiencing the
thing that we all experience when we graduate from college, where
basically you realize that just because you have a college degree,
doesn’t mean anyone’s going to pay you to do anything. I mean, you’ve
read great books, you’ve learned history, you’ve become somewhat of a
thinker, but no job is giving you benefits (just ask my mother, she’ll
tell you all about it). I mean, all your life you were told that
college is the way to succeed, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not
knocking college, but it’s a nice little slap upside the head when you
realize that you made more money as a waitress than you make at the
three plus jobs you’re working now. And you still have to ask your
parents for money.

I mean, this is where Reality Bites really hits the nail on the head.
There’s a scene where Winona Rider, playing Lelaina Pierce, loses her
job and no place will hire her, she’s over qualified for the crap
jobs, and underqualified for everything else. Welcome to being young
in the new millennium. She can’t get hired at Weinershnitzel and she
can’t define Irony, but she knows it when she sees it.

But laying out how much the work situation sucks is not sufficient to
rank on my top five. Perhaps my favorite thing about Reality Bites,
and something I’ve tried to emulate in my own writing, is the films
take on relationships, specifically modern romantic relationships.
Long, long ago I wrote about Sex and the City (I’m sure you don’t
remember it, but if you want to reread go to
http://www.wordpress.com/juliaisbadass), and in this little rant I mentioned
that there is a person that loves to fight with me about how
unrealistic Sex and the City is. Now, I argue that relationships have
changed over the past 20 years. There are new rules and regulations
on relationships and pre-sex and the city, Reality Bites was the best
display of this. Basically, you’ve got Janeane Garaffalo’s character
Vicki, who sleeps with tons of guys and is ‘out the door before the
condom comes off.’ Now, young ones, raise your hand if you are like
this, or you have a friend who is like this….everyone? Okay then.
There’s Steve Zahn’s character, Sam, who is gay, but hasn’t come out
to his family yet. There’s just a great vulnerability to him and at
the end you see him in his first ‘relationship’ and he’s so giddy.
Now, gay men, were you like this in your first relationship….yes?
Okay then. And the most important is the relationship between Lelaina
and Troy (ethan hawke, a.k.a. sexy beast). Basically, Lelaina and
Troy are two friends who share insane sexual tension. They’re in love
with each other, but don’t admit it, so they just get jealous and
angry every time the other one sleeps with someone else, but they also
don’t have real relationships because they’re in love with one
another. Then, when they do get their shit together and have sex,
Troy freaks and leaves and gets all emotionally disconnected. Hello,
this is almost every relationship I’ve ever had…but I won’t say who
the emotional disconnect comes from. Anyway, this seems to be the
way…we’re so afraid of getting hurt, that we run from anything that
could potentially be a gratifying relationship because it’s scary.
Um, hello that’s everyone I know. (besides the peeps that recently
got married and to them I say, cheers, you’re already doing better
than most people our age).

I know it’s sort of depressing, but this is the world we young folks
are living in. You’re not someone’s girlfriend unless you have a
discussion about it. Basically, they are (in theory) allowed to sleep
with someone else unless you have a full discussion about the fact
that you are there girlfriend, or, you’re not their girlfriend, you’re
just ‘exclusive.’ It’s all very confusing, and Reality Bites, in a
subtle way, shows this without flat out giving you a list of rules.

But these instances of Reality in Reality Bites aren’t the only thing
that make this movie a classic. Sure, it hits on veins that are
grounded in the reality of many young’n’s but it is the way in which
these things are hit upon that makes this movie such a work of genius.
For example, at the beginning of the move, in one of my favorite
scenes, the four friends are getting drunk on the roof of an office
building after their graduation. Vicky is singing and Lelaina says,
‘quick Vicky what’s your social security number,’ after rambling it
off with ease, she looks straight at Lelaina’s camera and says,
totally deadpan, ‘that’s the only thing I really learned in college.’
Now, this does go out to some of my college professors and I don’t
agree with this statement, I learned a lot in college, but you have to
admit it’s funny. The thing is, I think it really gets to the heart
of the matter (not trying to quote Graham Greene). It gets at what I
was saying earlier about not getting jobs after college. I mean,
vicky works at the gap, post-graduation, she doesn’t need to know who
Graham Greene is.

For those of you who don’t know Janeane Garaffalo is my one of my
favorite Comedienne’s and most of my favorite lines in the movie come
from her. But many people don’t know that Janeane is also an amazing
dramatic actress. Another major issue Reality Bites hits on is AIDS.
I mean, this is something that starting with Generation X, we’ve all
had to deal with as we’ve become sexually active. For the previous
generation, it was too late. Vicky, at one point in the film goes to
the Free Clinic, she, in a moment of flippantness calls it ‘the right
of passage for our generation,’ Yes, the way she says it is humorous,
but think about this for a second. It really kind of is the right of
passage for our generation. Sure, losing it is a right of passage,
but now we have another one, getting tested.

Later in the movie Vicky gives my favorite speech where she declares
that she worries that she might be dying of AIDS but it’s like it’s
not happening to her, it’s like she’s a character on Melrose Place and
she teaches everyone that it’s okay to be near her, and then she dies
and they all show up to her funeral in halter tops. Okay, so this is
something that I’ve noticed about the younger generations. We are so
exposed to media all the time, that we are constantly comparing
ourselves to characters. I don’t think this is a new thing, I mean,
how many boys probably saw a bit of themselves in David Copperfield or
Huckleberry Finn? How many girls see a big of themselves in Elizabeth
Bennett or Jane Eyre? But now, media is so pervasive that this is the
way we communicate. Things are Tarantinoesque, you’re the ‘monica’ of
the group, he’s ‘the dude.’ I mean, it’s easy to describe things in
terms of movies and television. When I say, I was like Angela Chase
in high school, the vast majority of people my age understand EXACTLY
what that means. For those of you who don’t, she was a character in
My So-Called Life, rent it.

I think that the thing that captures my heart the most in Reality
Bites is the almost unnoticeable way the writing captures the feel and
the subtleties of love in the ’90’s (and now the new millennium). It
captures the way we relate to each other, the way we talk to each
other, the fact that Lelaina drinks 8 million diet cokes a day (hello
Julia and her ridiculous caffeine addiction), and yes, it ends with a
‘lead man and leading lady share a show-stopping kiss,’ but they’ve
already had sex, so I guess that throws much of the Rom Com formula
off. Even that is an exclusively ’90’s act. I mean, sure, it
happened in When Harry Met Sally, but did Harry and Sally go shopping
for groceries at a gas station……………

I rest my case.

Peace, Love, and Gen X,
Julia

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August 31, 2007 - Posted by | Gay/Lesbian, Hollywood, Movie Reviews, Movies, Quentin Tarantino

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