Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Now this is a Story all about How….

Sorry ’90’s kids, I just got that stuck in your head.  And for those of you who aren’t ’90’s kids, well you missed out.  Don’t worry, you will find out the top 1.5 movies of Julia’s favorites, but I’ve been pondering weak and weary on this subject for a few weeks now and thought I’d let you in on the crazy wanderings of my freakish mind.

It all started one day with a little R.E.M. song called ‘Losing My Religion.’  I was driving to Booksoup and Losing my Religion came on the radio.  Suddenly, goosebumps sprang up all over my body.  Now, this is something that is not all that uncommon.  It happens during great scenes in movies (in fact, that ‘I too can command the winds sir’ speech in the trailer for the new Elizabeth movie gets me good), it happens during great scenes in T.V. (the Ross and Rachel break up in Friends gets me good), and it happens especially in great theater, I erupt in goosebumps at least five separate times while watching Les Mis, and Rent, well, it’s embarrassing.  But it’s never really happened during a song I’ve heard eighty million times, and one that’s not connected to some sort of story line.  My mind had been sort of orbiting around a concept, but I hadn’t quite put my finger on it, until that exact moment.  The moment R.E.M. gave me goosebumps, it all slammed together in my head.  I think that ’90’s kids (a.k.a. Kids who grew up in the ’90’s so were born in the early ’80’s) have it made.  We’ve got the best deal.  I mean, we grew up at a time that had the best of everything. 

Think about this.  We are young enough to remember Bush the 1st and we were born when Reagan was president, but the president we truly remember throughout our childhood was Clinton.  We grew up when health consciousness was strong, but not crazy like it is now.  I mean, we didn’t have atkins or south beach when I was a kid.  You just ate your veggies and your parents kicked you out of the house to play after school.  We grew up before the great germophobia happened.  I mean, most kids today are weak and sickly because their parents are constantly squirting that anti-bacterial shit on their hands.  I ate dirt.  I fell out of trees.  I broke toes like they were going out of style.  And now I’m sick maybe once a year, if that (and last time I was sick it was food poisoning).  I mean, we had the good cartoons, we had the good music, we had the good movies, we got to see what a real president is like.  That’s right, I’m going out on a limb and saying it.  The 1990’s was the best time to be a kid (and a young adult)…and here’s why…

Like I said, we had the best cartoons.  Now those of you that grew up in the Looney Tunes era may fight me on this, but trust me, ours were better.  See we had the Looney Tunes.  We got to see Bugs and Daffy and Road Runner and Coyote, but we were also born into the Era of Nicktoons.  That’s right those of you younger than I.  I remember when Nickelodeon first came on the air.  I remember the advertising for Nicktoons (before they ever aired) and best of all, I remember the delightful sunday mornings (that’s right SUNDAY mornings) when I sat and watched Nicktoons.  Some of you, I’m sure, are wondering, what the hell is she talking about nicktoons, what are Nicktoons?  Ah, yes.  Well, Nicktoons gave us gems like Ren and Stimpy, Rugrats, Doug, Aaah! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Hey Arnold.  These were truly great cartoons.  I mean, sure Spongebob Squarepants is great, but he’s got nothing on Ickis, Oblena and Krumm from Real Monsters.  We also had the non-Nicktoons, that were awesome.  I mean, when I got home from school there were Animaniacs with Pinky and the Brain, there was Batman the Animated series, there were Gargoyles.  It was a good time for cartoons.  Plus, as we grew up, we got the good adult cartoons.  I mean, we were around when the simpsons started (and was great), but we also got Beavis and Butthead (the music video portion is still, arguably, the best critique on music video to date), we had Aeon Flux (please don’t watch the film, it’s horrible and nothing like the cartoon), and my personal favorite (also my halloween costume this year) Daria, who came from Beavis and Butthead and got her own show.  Basically, Daria was me in high school.  She hated everyone, she was smart so everyone hated her, and she just wanted to get the hell out of there, but she was super witty and awesome and I love her.  I was also in love with her best friends brother, Trent.  Trent is the only cartoon I’d ever consider sleeping with.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he sparked my own sexual awakening…is that wrong?

So that settles it then, ’90’s kids had the best cartoons.  But it wasn’t just cartoons, we had the best television in general.  When I got home after school, I watched Blossom.  Who can forget the beautiful denim hats with a huge flower on the top (pre-sex and the city huge flower accessory, hmmm, wonder where they got that idea from?).  Plus, Blossom always talked about the real issues, her boyfriend hit her in one episode, her brother was a recovering drug addict.  These were real issues, it wasn’t that ‘Leave it to Beaver’, ‘My Three Sons’, ‘Brady Bunch’ kind of crap.   When I got home after school, I watched Full House, the Fresh Prince (the theme song is the beginning of this email, and everyone my age can sing the entire thing.  Don’t ask unless you really want to hear the whole song, but I will sing it for you) and Family Matters, sure they didn’t deal with issues (not big ones anyway), but they were great for their time.  The early ’90’s was the hey day of TGIF.  For those of you who don’t know, this was the ABC friday night extravaganza.  When I was 11, this was the thing to do on Saturday night.  This is when Full House would air new episodes, but it was also home to Boy Meets World, Mr. Belvedere, Step by Step, Family Matters (remember steve urkel), and eventually Sabrina the Teenage Witch (oh, Melissa Joan Hart, please come back to work).  And by the mid-’90’s Friday night was X-files night.  I mean, what other generation can claim that these were the shows we grew up with.  Of course, I’m leaving out the golden two and I’ll get to those now.  These were the shows that every single person my age knows.  Even if you didn’t watch these shows, you couldn’t really escape them. 

Drum roll please (they get their own paragraph).  They were Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210.  Oh, my little ’90’s girl heart still gets all twittery when I think about Zach Morris (I was a Zach girl), Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh.  I scratch what I said about Trent the Cartoon being my sexual awakening…Luke Perry with his James Dean haircut and that rocking Porsche was the real moment I first said, ‘Woah!’  I still, to this day, want a porsche or a mustang because that’s what Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh drove, respectively.  I don’t know if that’s great product placement, or a symbol of how imprinted those fictional characters are on my soul.  Storytelling, be it books, movies, music or television, has always been my kind of religion.  I go to these media for solace, to feel less alone, to experience things I have never and may never experience.  And 90210 was my first foray into the Television aspect of storytelling.  It was my first television addiction, the first show I couldn’t miss.  And even though I started watching it in the third grade, all my friends were exactly the same.  It was our version of water cooler chatting, we had the swingset chats about Brenda, Brandon, Kelly, Dylan, Donna, Steve and David.  Sometimes Emily Valentine.  And eventually Valerie Malone.  Oh yes, Tiffany Amber-Thiessen was the goddess of the early ’90’s.  On a side note, she came into the bookstore once and I got so excited my palms started sweating.  I mean, she was Kelly Kapowski, the good girl who loved Zach (who didn’t?) on Saved by the Bell, and then was Valerie Malone, the resident bitch after Brenda left on 90210.  And what a beautiful reign it was.  Saved by the Bell, though super entertaining now, was the show that everybody watched.  We watched it on Saturday mornings like we were at temple.  And boy did we love it.  The thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact that ’90’s kids still know the plot lines.  And I don’t mean big plotlines like Who shot J.R.?   I mean like the stupid little, only happened briefly in one episode plot lines.  We still quote it.  Saying ‘I’m so excited’ to a ’90’s kid does not, in our minds, end with, ‘and I just can’t hide it.’  No no.  It ends with ‘I’m so excited.  I’m so excited.  I’m so scared,’ from the episode where Jessie gets addicted to caffiene pills (becuase they couldn’t use real drug references on the show).  We remember the words to the music video Zach, Slater and Screech were in.  These were shows that had an impact on the whole of the youth of the ’90’s.  Like I said earlier, even if you didn’t watch them, you still knew them…you still know them.

Now, it’s a little bit harder to argue the movie aspect, because, in truth, ’80’s movies are hard to compete with, as are the classics, but the ’90’s were a renaissance in film.  I mean sure there are iconic movies in every decade, but usually they are iconic of that decade.  Movies like Valley Girl or  are iconic of the ’80’s but a lot of people I know have never seen it.  Just as the Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies are iconic of the the late ’50’s/early ’60’s.  Sure we all know this, but really, when’s the last time you popped in Pillow Talk?  Basically, what I’m saying is that there are certain periods when a whole mess of movies come out that become iconic.  And they seem to come out around the same time.  The late ’30’s/early ’40’s saw ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and ‘Casablanca’ (among others).  The Late ’60’s/early ’70’s saw ‘The Graduate,’ ‘Easy Rider,’ and ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’  The ’80’s had John Hughes movies and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’  The ’90’s had ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ ‘Titanic,’ ‘Pretty Woman,’ ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘Ghost.’  And in the ’90’s there was a distinct shift within the business of making movies.  Because in the ’90’s we were introduced to the concept of the Independent Movie.  Nowadays we take this for granted, but sometime when you’re bored go on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website and look up past oscar winners.  Now, I’m not saying that any of these movies were bad, but before about 1994 movies were nominated based on their box office appeal moreso than their actual status as great movies.  I mean, Chariots of Fire won over On Golden Pond and Reds.  This all changed in 1994.  Now, I’m not saying that the Academy doesn’t still pick blockbuster movies, but times are definitely a-changing.  I didn’t just pull the date 1994 out of my ass; a very important thing happened in 1994: PULP FICTION hit the ground running in 1994, and it completely changed the face of film.  Bob and Harvey Weinstein became underdog heroes for financing and distributing this movie (and they were very daring to allow Tarantino final cut on the movie…that would never happen now).  Pulp Fiction opened the flood gates and by the late ’90’s independent movies took up 2 or 3 of the five best picture nominees (in 2005 all the films nominated for best picture were independent films).  Now I would never ever say that The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, or any other indy movie of the ’90’s are better than other decades movies (in fact, many of the indy movies blatantly steal from older movies…think American Beauty with Sunset Boulevard), but I’m just saying we’re a pretty lucky crew, us ’90’s kids.  I mean sure, we had Titanic (the highest grossing movie of all time.  Please, we all saw it in the theater multiple times), but we also were privy to a revolution where talent and quality filmmaking won out over box office success. 

Now one area where I think we ’90’s kids lost is in literature.  There are some notable exceptions: My favorite book of all time, ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,’  for instance.  We also had Dave Eggers, Chuck Palahniuk, and John Krakauer, but really there are few notable, will last for a long time, kind of books that came out in the ’90’s, the first few Harry Potter books are a giant exception, but we’ll see how their staying power is.

The penultimate category I’m going to cover is other crap.  In other words, all the little things.  As I mentioned earlier, my mother never had antibacterial purel stuff, and it is my opinion that I’m all the healthier for it.  Now, I have no facts to back this up, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  I mean I bled for hours from my nose before my mother took me to the emergency room for them to tell me I had fractured it, and maybe that was irresponsibile, but I thank my mother for doing that because it made me tough and strong and independent, perhaps to a fault.  And maybe that example is strictly personal, but it seems that with this, as Barry Glassner calls it, ‘Culture of Fear’ that we live in, it’s getting harder and harder to steer away from overprotectiveness and irrational fear.  But it’s not just this other crap…I’m taking the plunge, I’m saying it.  We had the most awesome toys of any generation.  Now, hear me out.  We had all the soon to be confiscated toys: Slap Bracelets, Pogs, etc.  We had the Bedazzler, we are just old enough to have puffy painted our keds and to have worn gigantic shirts and tied them at the side with that plastic dohickey (or for those of us who didn’t have the puffy painted plastic dohickey, we tied our shirts with scrunchies).  There are embarrassing picutres of us with crimped hair, but we were not old enough (or long enough in the ’80’s) to have done anything crazy embarrassing, like dress like madonna in everyday life, or have an actual flock of seagulls haircut.  Sure we wore overalls with one strap unhooked and our backpacks over just one shoulder, but I never wore a polyester jumpsuit or a turqoise puffy sleeved prom dress with a side pony tail.  So I’ll give you the fact that I wore ripped jeans, doc martens, and flannel shirts (I’m wearing one right now actually), but ’90’s fashions were never, and I mean never, as embarrassing as ’80’s fashions or disco fashions.  Yes, once again we ’90’s kids scored.

So I’m going to round out this tome with the subject that started it all:  MUSIC.  Yes, music is the glue of the ’90’s kids world.  Because we, like the generations before us, but unfortunately not the generation after us, were blessed to grow up with great music.  We started life Like a Virgin with Madonna, and by the time we were growing into our own muscial tastes we had a spectrum to choose from.  Guns N Roses was the band of 1990/1991 (and anyone who doesn’t love Appetite for Destruction, I can no longer talk to) but my first real love was actually hip hop.  I know, I know, the past 12 years of my life have been dedicated, almost exclusively, to rock of all kinds, but I was a street little 10 year old and I loved Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle (of course, I was too young to know what either of those titles meant).  Plus, we had the whole, T.V. music tie in on one of my favorite episodes of 90210, when Brenda, David and Donna go to a hotel and meet Color Me Badd.  Oh yes, it still gives me shivers.  I always laugh when I think of the fact that I was 10 and singing ‘I wanna sex you up’ at the top of my lungs.  And, of course, let’s not leave out Boyz II Men (abcbbd) and the Motownphilly.  But the end of my hip hop road came along with a blonde guy from seattle named Kurt Cobain.  Yes, we ’90’s kids not only saw the birth of hip hop, we also saw the birth (and death) of grunge.  We were the grunge kids, dancing in the mosh pit, coming as we were, we smelled like teen spirit.  But only for a few years, before we were crushed by Kurt’s death.  I still remember that day as one of the worst of my life.  It was the first celebrity death I ever cried at (the only other was Joey Ramone).  But Kurt brought out the whole seattle scene.  I mean, Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, it was just a great time for music.  And even the poppy crap was still good.  Smashmouth, Blink 182 (the early stuff), Sugar Ray, I mean, who didn’t just want to fly in 1998.  Plus, we had Sublime, Weezer, No Doubt (circa Tragic Kingdom), Bush (god I loved Gavin Rosdale), the Sneaker Pimps, Porno for Pyros, it was just a great time for music.  The likes of which can only be compared to the late 60s/early 70s.  And because we weren’t involved in anything like Vietnam, our music of the ’90s was about society and how messed up it was/is.  We didn’t have to protest a stupid war back then, so we could focus on ourselves, on our problems.

And that is why being a ’90s kid is the best thing ever. 

Peace, love, and Yo homes smell you later, I’m off to sit on my throne as the prince of bel-air,



October 29, 2007 Posted by | Books, Hollywood, John Hughes, Movies, Music, Oscars, Quentin Tarantino, Sex and the City, Television | 1 Comment

Ballad of Clarence and Alabama

So a while ago I started the big countdown of my favorite movies, and,
in true Julia fashion, I managed to get sidetracked. So here goes,
this is my third favorite movie of all time, and yes they are in
order. And just in case you forgot, as I often do, number five was
Reality Bites, number four was Say Anything, and number three is True
Romance. So I know I’ve talked about this one before, so again, I’ll
try not to be too repetitive, and this one will be short and sweet
because really the top 2.5 are the real juicy ones that I have lots
and lots to talk about.

Alrighty then, so True Romance, here we go. Like I said before, it’s
the best Tarantino movie there is, specifically for the reason that
it’s directed by Tony Scott (Ridley Scott’s brother). When Tarantino
wrote the original script it was truly Tarantinoesque. It was all
non-linear and Christian Slater died at the end. I mean, I’m sure it
would have worked but not as well…it would have been a completely
different movie. And one that I may or may not have wanted to see.

Now, something that I don’t know that I’ve ever explicitly said
outright is that a great movie is all about great casting. Most
people don’t really realize how much casting really makes a film.
Think of ‘When Harry met Sally’ without Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
Now think about it without Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher (the
supporting cast). It’s not just about the leads. I mean, let’s learn
something from Girl, Interrupted (a.k.a. the movie Angelina Jolie
stole from Winona Ryder). What good is Scarlett O’Hara without Rhett
Butler, Ashley, Melanie, Mammy, and the rest of them. I mean, the
supporting cast is just as important, if not more so than the leading
men and leading ladies.

This is the genius of movies like the Big Lebowski and True Romance.
Sure, in True Romance the movie rests on the chemistry between
Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater. I mean, without us, the
audience, buying them as a couple, and buying them falling in love as
fast as they do, the whole movie doesn’t work. But
True Romance wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is without the
supporting cast. Just starting with Val Kilmer as Elvis, who we never
really see, he’s always sort of in the background, in the distance, as
Clarence’s conscious. Then, of course, and I promise not to wax too
poetic about him, there’s Gary Oldman as Drexl, the white guy who
thinks he’s a black guy pimp.

Then there’s Dennis Hopper as Clarence’s dad. And Christopher Walken
as the Mafioso who’s after Clarence. The two of them engage in one of
the best tense conversation moments…in a scene of true Tarantino
genius Denis Hopper tells Christopher Walken about how Sicilians are
descended from black people (he uses a different word, that I’m not
comfortable with). What is amazing about the scene is how difficult
it is to tear your eyes away from the screen. The two of them are
laughing as the story is told, but there’s just so much going on
underneath, and you know that Christopher Walken is going to do
something violent because of this story, and you can see it coming,
but you can see that they truly respect each other. It’s great.

Then of course there’s Balki, yes, that’s right, Bronson Pinchot from
perfect strangers as the assistant to producer Lee Donowitz. He plays
a perfect assistant, just pretentious enough. He’s not as good as
Adam Brody in Thank You For Smoking (that’s what career assistants are
really like), but he’s pretty rad.

Of course the true real greatness, and stand out supporting actor is
Brad Pitt. I still maintain that this is his best role, even though
he’s not in it very much. He plays Michael Rapaport’s stoner
roommate. I just don’t know if words can describe the brilliance of
Brad Pitt’s performance as Floyd. The best line is when James
Gandolfini walks in and asks about Clarence’s whereabouts. When he
leaves Brad Pitt, in his stoner voice says, ‘don’t condensend me man.
I’ll fucking kill you.’ It’s brilliant, and I assure you, there are
no spelling errors in that quote.

This brings me to the man, James Gandolfini, who, surprise surprise,
plays a mobster…in training for Tony Soprano perhaps. Anyway, he is
a badass in this movie, as he was in the Sopranos. And it’s all
realized in the scene between him and Patricia Arquette…the infamous
fight scene with the infamous corkscrew. Usually I’m not one for
watching male female physical fights. I mean, I don’t really like
watching men and women beat each other up, but I have to say, it’s
supremely satisfying in True Romance…probably due to the outcome of
the fight.
Still, the corkscrew is priceless.

Now, this movie does come with a disclaimer since I have heard from
some people that you are actually watching these movies…which
couldn’t make me happier. But this is a Quentin Tarantino movie and
you know what that means…violence and STRONG language, and this is
me talking. So just a warning.

There are other things that make True Romance my third favorite movie,
but I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them so go back and look at your old
emails if you need some more persuasion. And until next time…

Peace, Love, and Alabama Whirley,

October 5, 2007 Posted by | Coen Brothers, Movie Reviews, Movies, Quentin Tarantino, The Big Lebowski | Leave a comment

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

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
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, 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,

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

Ezekiel 25:17…The Path of the Righteous Man.


So a while ago I wrote a little email about a guy named Cameron Crowe.  Basically, that was me geeking out over someone I admire.  This is not going to be that way.  In case you didn’t get it (or if you were in a cave in 1994) the subject of this email is not just a bible passage, but a quote from a little movie called Pulp Fiction.  Pulp Fiction, directed by a little director named Quentin Tarantino. 

Now, I absolutely love just about everything Tarantino does, but I fucking hate Tarantino.  On the one hand, he can write dialogue like no one else, but on the other hand he’s a pretentious/pompous ass.  Not that that’s shocking in Hollywood, but it would be so much sweeter if he was talentless as well.  My experiences so far in Hollywood seem to suggest that the least talented people are complete dicks, while the most talented people are pretty awesome.  (Tom Hanks is totally rad, Mary Hart, from Entertainment Tonight, is a bitch and a half).

That being said, I think Tarantino should stick to screenwriting, and I’ll tell you why.  Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs are all fantastic movies.  They’re gritty, laced with a certain, dare I say Tarantinoesque kind of wit, and though they’re slightly idealized or rather slightly stylized forms of reality, they still touch on major themes that affect us in everyday life.

But Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs don’t hold a candle to Natural Born Killers and aren’t even in the same ballpark as True Romance (definitely in my top 5 movies of all time).  And you know why Natural Born Killers and True Romance are so much better than the other three…because Tarantino didn’t direct them.  True Romance doesn’t have the same out of ordering that Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Kill Bill have (though that is part of what makes Pulp Fiction genius…the John Travolta dying and then coming back to him is a stroke of genius).  And Natural Born Killers, though the script was heavily heavily edited by Oliver Stone, who directed the movie, is weird, but not in a Tarantino way.  Natural Born Killers gets down the surreal media storm effect. 

It might be of interest to you all to know that True Romance and Natural Born Killers, along with Say Anything, are the movies that made me want to write movies.  When you’re in this business there are two important questions you get asked…what’s your favorite movie? (mine’s Clueless if you didn’t already know) and what movie made you want to make movies?  To me the second question is the more interesting of the two because many people answer that their movie that made them want to make movies is some terrible movie that motivated them to make something better.  My reason, on the other hand, for choosing these three films is that they evoked the kind of feelings in me that I want to evoke in other people.  After I watched Natural Born Killers I had to sit in silence for at least an hour and just soak in what I had just experienced.  I can’t even put it into words, but the fact that this film had, so completely, hit what exactly American society does with/to truly despicable people is just unbelievable.  I just remember sitting on the couch in my parents living room thinking…that’s it, that’s just it.

True Romance, on the other hand, is a film that is really truly ROMANTIC.  And not in the cheezy, Boy meets girl, there’s some sort of unrealistic/completely and obviously contrived situation where there’s some sort of a road block to the two characters being together, but in the end everything turns out ok.  No, no in True Romance Christian Slater kills Patricia Arquette’s old pimp because he is such a dick.  Patricia Arquette and James Gandolfini have what is quite possibly the best onscreen fight of all time.  The part with the corkscrew, I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I’m just saying it’s fucking awesome.  And that’s really True Love.  When someone will risk life and limb to defend you and to keep your secret.  When someone will take a shotgun to Tony Soprano after she throws him through a glass shower, that’s true romance. 

Now, the other three: Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Reservoir Dogs are all fantastic films and I’m not arguing that they’re not.  Pulp Fiction changed film as we know it and it remains to this day one of my favorites.  Samuel L. Jackson is a badass, Bruce Willis’ best role (except maybe Die Hard), John Travolta proved that he could actually act (though he seems to have been recently disproving that), and man oh man does that movie make you want a Royale with Cheese.  And Pulp Fiction is really the only of the three films that actually works better with the out of order storyline.  An arguement can be made for Reservoir Dogs because you don’t find out who the cop is until it is absolutely necessary…this scenario made possible, to an extent, by the out of order storyline.  Now, Kill Bill, which I totally loved even though I so didn’t want to, could have gone either way.  I think the movie would have worked just as well (especially the first one) if the story had been in order.  The flashback in Kill Bill Vol. 2 was necessary where it was, but the rest of the story really could have worked either way.  I have this to say to Mr. Tarantino…a movie does not have to be chronologically out of order to be a great movie.  Shake it up Quentin.  Give us something new.

Peace, Love, and True Romance


June 14, 2007 Posted by | Hollywood, Movies, Quentin Tarantino | Leave a comment