My friend Lesley posted a list of movies you should watch to understand her on Facebook and I love that idea so I’m doing my own list of movies you should watch to understand me. If you make a list, please link me to it in the comments! In no particular order:
1) Impromptu – this movie is a double whammy. It’s about a woman writer (George Sand) and a spoonie (Frederic Chopin). Literally every chapter of my life can be titled with a quote from this movie. When Chopin talks about how his body (“this miserable bag of bones”) is a disappointment to him and how he prefers to float up out of it? Even at 17 I felt that.
2) Metropolitan – it’s a Jane Austen movie set in 1990s New York & I related to that WAY more than anything Quentin Tarantino.
3) The Muppet Movie – if only Orson Welles had drawn up a standard rich & famous contract for me. Seriously, you could describe my childhood with just images of Muppets and for me The Muppet Movie is the most perfect expression of the Muppets. Also, Gonzo’s song “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” is still one of my all-time favorite songs.
4) The Royal Tenenbaums – Wes Anderson is my filmmaker soulmate (not using spirit animal because I just learned it’s actually not ok to use that phrase). I kind of wish I could live in his movies. This is my favorite, the one I rewatch the most, but they ALL delight me.
5) Star Wars – once upon a time I wouldn’t have needed to put this on a list because it would have been so obviously but whole generations have never seen this movie. I was Princess Leia 2 or 3 times for Halloween. The impact of a Princess who had BROWN HAIR LIKE ME & who kicked ass was pretty much all the things to little me. This movie is why I went to USC so you could argue that it’s the MOST influential on my life.
6) Galaxy Quest – my comfort food movie.
7) Room with a View – I was a really uncool kid. Everyone else wanted to be the next Quentin Tarantino, I wanted to be the next Ruth Prawer-Jhabvala/James Ivory. Everything from the adaptation to the production design to the casting of this movie is pitch perfect down to the red dress that Lucy is wearing in that one scene. If you read the book, you’ll know what I mean.
8) Gosford Park – I grew up on Agatha Christie, who is my Dad’s favorite writer. I’ve watched ALL the adaptations. So Robert Altman, one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, making a filmic homage to an Agatha Christie film is an utter delight. You can watch this movie a hundred times and get something new out of it. Every character in it is the star of their own story. Just the little moment in the pantry between Tom Hollander and Sophie Thompson (sister of Emma!), where he’s eating tiny teaspoons of jam? That was enough for me to be a Tom Hollander fan for life. Is this the best Robert Altman movie? Probably not. I’d probably vote for M*A*S*H or Nashville (watch it again & swoon over Keith Carradine singing “I’m Easy”). But this is for sure my favorite Altman film.
9) The Thin Man – Nick & Nora were probably my first, adolescent, model for the kind of relationship I wanted to be in. (And how’s this for perfect? Nick Pileggi & Nora Ephron are my grown-up model!)
10) The Philadelphia Story (with honorable mentions to Bringing Up Baby and Holiday) Cary Grant & Katharine Hepburn did screwball together better than anybody.
And some TV shows just because:
11) Twin Peaks was what made me want to be a filmmaker. (Sidebar: I was deliriously happy when I read David Foster Wallace’s piece on David Lynch especially since he summed up my feelings on Quentin Tarantino so perfectly. http://www.lynchnet.com/lh/lhpremiere.html)
12) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Possibly my favorite thing ever. I haven’t gotten sick of rewatching it yet. It’s not perfect. I don’t care. I love it unconditionally & I think it feels the same way about me.
13) Star Trek: The Next Generation (so long as I’m including TV shows, this was my Trek, Picard is, always, oh captain my captain). I watched the original series with my Dad, I worked on Voyager, & Deep Space Nine was great, but this is the one embedded in my psyche.
14 & 15) MasterChef UK, MasterChef. I grew up in the hospitality industry. Chefs were my rock stars. MasterChef UK is the best cooking show in the world. It’s proper. It’s about what is truly happening at the top levels of the culinary industry. It’s like watching Picasso level up from talent to artist. MasterChef (US) still has cred (Joe Bastianich is not only a great restauranteur, he makes killer wine) but the fun of it is all vicarious – I can put myself in the shoes of the home cooks & imagine what I would do.