July 29, 2009

Movies For Hot Weather

Every year when the days become intolerably muggy and miserable I get irrational movie cravings. You'd think I'd want to kick back with something chilly and soothing, but it's quite the opposite. My brain craves fever dreams, it wants to bog down in sweltering incoherence and spin its wheels giddily. Suffering through the longest, hottest entertainments during the summer months is its own form of escapism -- it makes it easier to meld with a movie and project yourself into it, and the stain it leaves on your psyche lingers a lot longer. Here are a few of the movies that will help push you over the edge into delirium. Turn off your AC, press a glass of something cold to your forehead, and prepare to lose your mind in luxury.

First of all there's Night of the Iguana, adapted from Tennessee Williams' play and starring Ava Gardner, Richard Burton, and the incomparable Deborah Kerr. Most of the movie takes place at an isolated Mexican beach resort where the characters all take turns healing and destroying each other. Here's the trailer:



I've posted about Robert Altman's Three Women before. Watching Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall grapple for dominance in the middle of the Californian never gets old for me. Over time (and the movie is over two hours long, so there is a lot of it) camp humor gives way to existential dread amidst the most blinding '70s decor you've ever seen. The lugubrious soundtrack will pin you down and gradually drain your will to live -- but you cannot look away. Here are the first ten minutes:



This is a real firecracker. You don't have to have seen David Lynch's Twin Peaks TV series to appreciate his cinematic prequel Fire Walk With Me as one of his strangest and most emotionally charged films -- the movie shouldn't work, but for some reason it just does. Lynch gives you all the necessary info on a need-to-know basis as you tour the crime-scenes, roadhouses, and psychotic episodes of small-town America. If Sheryl Lee's sultry/horrified performance doesn't flip some sort of hidden switch in your amygdala, then you might not be human. Here's the trailer:



Here's another Altman treat. This one goes down smoother than 3 Women, but it has about 25 more characters to keep track of and over a dozen musical numbers, so this is long-haul entertainment at its finest. I couldn't find a clip that does Nashville justice, so here's a montage set to one of the movie's songs. Give it a chance and it will become one of those movies you quote at least once a week.

July 25, 2009

Wallpaper Dream

In last night's dream I was on vacation visiting my mom. She took me with her to visit an elderly female relative whom I'd never met before, warning me that the old woman had never really recovered from the loss of her husband years ago, and that she could be rather crazy and unpleasant.

At the old woman's house, things went about like you'd expect -- she asked bizarre questions and acted outraged when the answers didn't meet her expectations. At one point she accidentally broke a coffee mug and then demanded that I pay to have it replaced. Irritated, I refused, pointing out that she'd broken it herself. My mom was ashamed of my manners, but the old woman seemed pleased by my reaction and suddenly took an interest in me. She asked if I wanted to come outside with her and see her garden, the one she'd been working on since her husband died. I let her lead me outdoors.

What I saw when she opened the back door awed and terrified me. Every inch of the outdoors had been covered over with wallpaper -- the lawn, the trees, as far as the eye could see, all wrapped in different colors and patterns. Astounded at the depth of her grief and madness, I burst into spontaneous tears and began weeping profusely. She laughed at my reaction. I whirled around, looking for a place she'd missed, but even the flowerbeds were papered over. I could see hints of dark earth in the cracks between sheets of paper. The outside of her house was covered too.

My mother rushed outside to see what the commotion was, but she couldn't figure out why I was crying. I tried to explain, but I realized with horror that she couldn't even see the wallpaper, that it wasn't really even there -- the old woman had actually just passed her own vision over to me somehow, infecting me with her madness, which I had been so impatient with earlier. My mind contorted, unable to comprehend itself.

Then I woke up. I lay there, relieved -- until suddenly I realized I could hear music playing in the living room! It was 5 AM, why would music be playing? I ran to my computer to check it out, and this is what had been underscoring my dream:


Nothing had been playing when I went to bed. I think it's possible that one of the cats jumped up on my desk and trampled my keyboard, somehow triggering the "play" button; otherwise I have no idea. I'm sure that the music had something to do with the potency of the dream, though. It gets pretty intense right around the 3:00 mark, which must have been while I was still asleep. Tex always refers to this movement as "music to drink poison to", I should have known I'd eventually fall victim to it.