A few of my favorite clips

I need to think happy thoughts for a moment, so this post is a bit of a break and a chance for me to talk about the subject closest to my heart, film. This isn’t really a “best of” set of clips, merely a chance for me to put together some of my favorite scenes from a few films so that I can talk about them.

1. Blue In The Face by Wayne Wang

This is the largely improvisational follow up to Wayne Wang’s film Smoke. I liked Smoke a lot too. I really liked Blue In The Face for it’s use of the same actors in an improvisational setting. There’s a certain energy and “realness” you can get with improv, and I think we don’t use it enough as narrative filmmakers. A lot of films are written using improv techniques, but that’s different than just telling the characters to do whatever while the cameras roll.

This selection of scenes cuts between Lou Reed talking about why he’s lived in New York for 30 years, and why he smokes, with Harvey Keitel and Jim Jarmusch talking about smoking. And you see snippets of POC throughout, kinda weird since there were a lot of POC in the film and it’s made by an Asian director. A side note: the reason so many actors in old movies smoked all the time was because the directors had to give them some kind of an action to perform, and smoking was just a lazy way of keeping them moving. Directors are more savvy these days, but if you look at the old smoking films you’ll notice it usually happens during scenes where people just sit around talking.

2. Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill! by Russ Meyer

I was lucky enough to see this on a 35mm print when I was in high school (not AT my high school though) and Tura Satana haunted my day dreams for months afterwards. This is the trippy intro. Those wiggly lines you see filling the screen are the optical track. If you look at a strip of film, like 16mm film, you’ll find the optical track on the side opposite the sprocket holes. It’s the CRAPPIEST form of audio possible, oh my god. It’s ironic because film is so gorgeous and so superior to video, yet it’s married to this scrawny squeaky form of audio. Basically it works the same way as the film, light goes through it and it gets read back into audio. But it squishes your sounds into pitifulness. I don’t know how Dolby works, but the audio you hear in theatres now is a far cry from original film sound.

Anyway, yes, dangerous go go dancers. And the lesbian gets teased for not being bisexual. It’s pretty entertaining.

3. Mullholland Drive by David Lynch

This is the scene in Club Silencio where they realize that they’re dead and have been dead for the entire first half of the movie. Okay, other people interpret it differently, but that’s what I get out of it. And I don’t feel bad about spoiling it because no one really knows what they’ve just seen when they watch it, except that the kissing scene between Naomi Watts and Laura Harring is fuckin’ hot! I’m tempted to start saying “Silencio” over and over the next time I sleep with someone just to wig them out. One thing I find fascinating about this flick is that it stars Nicole Kidman’s very famous, very closeted lover in a film about closeted hollywood lesbians. I sometimes wonder if Lynch specifically cast her because of it. Anyway, here is Rebekah Del Rio singing Crying. Oh man, Laura Harring is really hot. She kicks Tura Satana’s ass.

4. Velvet Goldmine by Todd Haynes

I like this scene with Christian Bale’s character identifying with the highly famous glam rock super star Brian Slade because I think it’s kind of a common experience in queer lives. There’s something comforting and relieving the first time you see a media figure or movie or whatever that connects to your own sexuality and identity. I dunno, I just get a soft little feeling at Christian Bale jumping up and down pointing to an androgenous bisexual rocker and yelling “That’s me!”

A side note, I remember when Todd Haynes was still in the early stages of his career with Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story and Poison, and Dottie Gets Spanked was touring the festivals. God, have I been around that long?

5. The Hours by Stephen Daldry

This is the end scene with Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf. I think it’s my favorite scene of a psych patient trying to regain control over her own treatment for bipolar disorder. In this case she was sent off to the quiet small town of Richmond for what was then known as rest treatment. It’s still kind of practiced today. I don’t know why people think if they make crazy people REALLY bored we’ll get better. Either way, I actually saw The Hours on a day pass from the psych ward, almost exactly four years ago. I also find people try to tell me that I’m not really saying what I’m saying, that it’s just the bipolar talking. Bipolar doesn’t talk, asshole. It just sits around and makes suggestions for suicide.

My mom thought it was a REALLY bad idea for me to see this film, incidentally, because it has suicide in it. Which is ridiculous, because NOT talking about suicide doesn’t make me think of it less. Also, I think I just needed to see something about another bipolar person, especially one who made a huge difference to the world, in this case to literature.

6. Orlando by Sally Potter

So it makes sense then to end with the film made from the book written by Virginia Woolf to her lover Vita Sackville West. Orlando, in case you haven’t read or seen it, is about a Lord who lives for four centuries, during which he spontaneously transforms into a woman. It was kind of a love offering to Vita, and it’s really funny. Sally Potter’s film is so lush, jeez, I used to watch this film all the time in high school. Actually watching this scene of Orlando falling in love with Sasha, I realized that you can see certain aspects of “melancholy” that remind me of my own bipolar disorder and probably Virginia Woolf’s as well. I dunno, that’s just something I noticed after watching the Hours clip. In film school I found out Sally Potter trained as a dancer, which also explains some of the film.

Probably some of these clips will go offline eventually, but I recommend any of the films mentioned in this post. None of them are related to each other really though, except that I like them.

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