I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

14 Movies From Which a Justin Tiemeyer Can Be Constructed

(In chronological order)

1. The Care Bears Movie (1985)

Amy now gets annoyed whenever I sing The Care Bears Movie theme song Care-a-Lot by Carole King.

But I keep singing it!

2. The Labyrinth (1986)

My aunt used to baby sit us during the summer sometimes, and the really cool thing about being a teenager at Aunt Sue's house was that she usually had one or two premium movie channels that we did not have. One afternoon, a movie called The Labyrinth came on, a beautiful creation of Jim Henson and David Bowie, completely new to me in the mid-90s, and yet eerily familiar. When it came to the scene of the baby walking on the ceiling, I recognized a scene that I'd seen in dreams for most of my life, that I'd described to my mother on more than one occasion. When mom and dad got home from work and picked us up, I talked to them about this strange feeling, and in quite a Dickensian fashion it was revealed that some months after my brother had been born, making me three-years-old, my father took me to see The Labyrinth. Showing this children's film to his child was an excuse for him to get out of the house and enjoy a film starring one of his favorite musicians, David Bowie. Since my Labyrinth renaissance of the '90s, I've come to enjoy much more of the work of the Thin White Duke and I've gotta say that it's brought my father and me closer.

3. Robin Hood (1973)

One of the most told stories of my childhood is that my mom had recorded the Disney animated Robin Hood film from the Disney channel when we had one of those free weekends (back when there was programming on Disney worth paying more for), and that I watched that video until the tape was worn straight through. I bought it again a couple years back, but I have trouble believing that Robin Hood will ever be the same with what I now know about those Crusades that the good king was off on.

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

If you've ever been to a karaoke bar, there's always that one white guy or girl who gets a kind of ironic kick out of doing a token rap song, the grin on his or her face shouting out, "Hey, I'm singing black people music and I'm not a black person." And it's cute, because this karaoke bar is a hole in the wall that only white people go to anyways. These people generally sing either "Baby Got Back" or "Ice Ice Baby." I've always been of the opinion that if you're going to go Vanilla Ice (wipe that smile off your face!) there's a better way to do it: "Ninja Rap." Instead of saying "Yo VIP, let's kick it," for example, I'm much more inclined to say, "Yo, it's the green machine, gonna rock the town without being seen. Have you ever seen a turtle get down?"

5. Wayne's World (1992)

Wayne's World is the occasion of the first time I ever really felt cool, like I was a part of something. The kids I went to school with never defined what was cool. The TV shows I watched kind of did. (I mean, come on, I watched the Ninja Turtles and Saved by the Bell - how does that not define cool?) In truth, it was the comedic interchanges between my Uncle Paul and my cousin Angie that first defined cool for me. They were always quoting some funny lines from Airplane or Naked Gun or Caddy Shack, and I would just bask in wonder. Their wit was sharp and fast, and they quoted some of those favorite lines non-stop. I wanted to be like that, and my first opportunity was with Wayne's World, which I saw in the theaters at least three times and continue to watch to this day. This was one of the first, and last, times I ever studied anything in my life, and the object of my study was Wayne's World. The result was magnificent, however: I attribute my relationship to my Uncle Paul to this movie, a man I consider not only one of my best friends of all time but also like a second father, the first person after my nuclear family that I want anyone I care about to meet, 1/2 of my concept of who and what a man ought to be. All I can say about that, and forgive me if I lapse into Mandarin, is: Zang!

6. Jurassic Park (1993)

When I was younger I was much better at writing novels. By that I mean that I get more than thirty pages into writing them before giving up on the idea. If I listed the names of some of my early novels, you might get an idea of what one of the most important movies in creating a Justin Tiemeyer was: Prehistoric Park, Cretaceous Park, Prehistoric Park, and Golden Gate Park (about a dinosaur park under the Golden Gate bridge). You guessed it, I was a really big fan of Tron. (PSYCH! I was really into Jurassic Park. DUH!)

7. American Beauty (1999)

Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey) strongly prefigures the latter years of my high school experience when he begins to see life as a farce and simply starts treating life as a farce. It seems simple in writing, but in actuality it is radical - it is both incredibly sad and incredibly comedic. A short while later I would have a similar experience. School is aimed toward people who don't care and don't know anything. The woman I was infatuated with at the time had begun dating my best friend. The bottom seemed to have fallen off of reality and my guiding principles were falling apart, something which has happened at least two other times in my life. But like Lester Burnham, I felt a kind of freedom, a kind of second chance at life. I spoke out in classes, half as comedic disruptions, half as well-thought answers and comments on the topic at hand. My popularity began to sky-rocket, getting me elected to the court for two dances (but never king!), and out of that turmoil I found a bigger, stronger version of myself that, despite issues with depression, would turn into a juggernaut of self-confidence. I was an iconoclast and rebel who stuck by Lester Burnham's sarcastic words: "You don't get to tell me what to do ever again." He was speaking to his wife. I was speaking to the world.

8. The Shining (1980)

When I first saw The Shining, I encountered Jack Torrence, a father who wore the same kind of clothing as my own father, who had difficulties with alcohol and who ended up attempting to kill his entire family. I have to admit that Stanley Kubrick's presentation was so brilliantly strange, and yet close to home, that I was kind of frightened of my own father for a couple of weeks. The man who my mom had offered as assurance of security when I heard strange noises in the night was now the object of fright, of intense fright, of the killer you live with. I think the difference between my father and Jack Torrence, however, is that my father hasn't attempted to kill us all.


9. American Psycho (2000)

I remember the occasion of my first viewing of American Psycho fairly vividly. We had a half day at high school for some reason. I went to the mall with some girls I knew (and made them hold my hand whenever we went into a clothing store). Afterward, Jared and I decided that we were going to see American Psycho up at Studio 28, a theater that was kind of far away but featured the only reel of American Psycho in the area. A girl named Lisa, a girl I would later date for three months, called us up and decided to tag along. I think if Lisa were to describe herself in high school she would probably say that she was sheltered. She once told me that the only reason she knew of any of the songs on Guitar Hero and/or Rock Band was because she dated me. If you know anything about American Psycho, you can see why I find this occasion fairly humorous. She's a sheltered girl from a hardcore Christian Reform family and the first scene we see when we arrive at the theater somewhat late is of a businessman killing a homeless person and his dog. You think that's funny? The two of us ended up watching Requiem for a Dream a couple weeks later in Jared's basement. Lisa is happily married now, which suggests to me that I did not, in fact, break her.

10. Mr T's Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool (1984)

I couldn't talk about movies without talking about the wildly successful movie night that happened at the Tiemeyer household once a week involving my little brother, all his little friends, and his loser older brother (me). We would watch ridiculous movies from Chuck Norris's Forest Warrior (where he transforms from a bird to a ninja, mid-jump-kick) to Monster in the Closet. But the crowning jewel was Mr. T's Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool, a movie Micah found on the free children's and instructional rack at Family Video. After sharing this movie often with one another, we went off into the world and shared it with others. I shared it with my calculus class senior year and it was such a success that it made its way into my Salutatorian's address at my graduation. 

11. Donnie Darko (2001)

I currently own three copies of the film Donnie Darko. The first is a VHS copy of the film that I bought before we witnessed the massive conversion to DVD. The second is a DVD copy of the film that I bought not because I thought VHS was on the way out, but because it included various bonuses. Most people forget that it is precisely bonus features, and not some human drive toward progress, that really sky-rocketed the DVD medium into mass use. The third is a DVD copy of the Director's Cut, possibly the most unique re-presentation of a film I have ever seen, focusing on the science fiction elements that were hinted at in the original, but also including a hilarious featurette on Donnie Darko's biggest fan. I still have use for all three copies, because Donnie Darko is one of the movies I am most inclined to loan out to friends. It is as if watching this movie is understood as a condition for understanding who I am. (For example, who I am is a fan of Tears for Fears, but this was not so until I watched this film, which features "Head Over Heels" and a cover of "Mad World.")

12. Purple Rain (1984)

Eye once tried 2 write a story where Jesus came back n the 1980s n he was essentially Prince, being very much like the Purple One and yet very Jesus at the same time. When eye became blocked on that story, eye decided 2 write a kind of Andy Kaufman story about a writer trying 2 get a story published n which Jesus comes back in the 1980s and is essentially Prince. Then eye just gave up on the whole thing and listened to some of the best music that has ever been made. It was probably the best decision eye could have made.

13. Dawn of the Dead

Last semester I went to see a movie in Fort Worth with a couple friends/colleagues of mine. The movie theater spanned multiple floors, the first consisting of a large parking garage and a couple smaller businesses, and the upper levels of the ticketing counters, the concession stands and the theaters themselves. I remember leaning over to my friend David and admiring with him how defensible this structure would be in the event of a zombie apocalypse. The garage could be armed with explosives and fire traps in the event that we'd need to clear the area and bolt, but this might be better done with ladders and ropes as other tall buildings were within climbing or swinging reach. A gigantic picture window overlooked the square, a picture that at this point in time was dominated by a muddy construction site. Between this and the area overlooking the escalator one could easily snipe zombies. Laughing over the choke points and strategies, I honestly think David and I became better friends.

14. There Will Be Blood (2007)

I'm finished.

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