16 May 2006

So I was watching Mission: Impossible 2 the other night when I got to thinking about my favorite guilty movie pleasures. A guilty movie pleasure, as I see it, is a movie that you can't defend on any rational level, but would rather watch on any given night instead of, say, 8 1/2 or Tokyo Story. It occurred to me that a list of those weird, bad, but delightful movies would be much more revealing than a list of my favorite films of all time (which I've blogged on several occasions). So here, without further ado, are ten movies of dubious quality that I will gladly watch again and again:
1. Beyond the Sea. As I told my parents the other day, "Whenever I feel depressed, I just need to see Kevin Spacey dance."

2. Elizabethtown. It had me at hello. Or at least at "My Father's Gun."

3. New York, New York. I was watching this again recently for the first time in about ten years. What a weird fucking movie. Travis Bickle falls in love with Judy Garland. Go figure. But as a teenager, I was so obsessed with Liza Minnelli's performance of "And the World Goes Round" that I actually performed it once, a cappella, at a high school leadership conference. (Sounds like something from a Daniel Clowes comic, doesn't it? Don't ask.)

4. The Dreamers. God help me, but parts of this movie are so good. The cinematography. The speech about Buster Keaton. And...everything, really. It just doesn't come together. And you see parts of Eva Green that you really don't want to see.

5. A Single Girl. Somebody stole my copy of this movie. I'm still mad about this. Ninety minutes of Virginie Ledoyen doing nothing in particular. How obsessed was I with Virginie Ledoyen in college? I bought this movie even after seeing her in The Beach.

6. One From The Heart. See the italicized comment for New York, New York, above. Totally insane. God, what a great soundtrack, though. And so beautiful. Don't tell anyone, but this is still my favorite Coppola movie.

7. The Mummy. You know what? I really, really love Peter Jackson's King Kong. You know what else? When it comes down to it, I probably love this movie even more. My God. Can you imagine what the world would have been like if the Star Wars prequels had been this good?

8. The Way of the Gun. Good movie? Not really. But it has lines that I never tire of quoting. ("I promise you a day of reckoning that you won't live long enough to never forget.") A great score. Oh, and the way that James Caan holds up the flaps of his jacket to show that he isn't carrying a gun? The best thing he's done in twenty years.

9. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Actually, this is a great movie. I'll defend it to anyone. I just can't defend its current position on my Best of All Time list. (Number twelve, in case you were wondering.)

10. Days of Thunder. Honestly, I picked this one pretty much at random. I can't explain it. I don't know where it comes from. But I'll gladly watch any movie where Tom Cruise rides a motorcycle.
I'm sure that I've forgotten a few. I've left off movies that are enjoyable solely as camp (the musical remake of Lost Horizon) or when filtered through some sort of weird homoerotic misreading (The Jungle Book 2). More interesting is the question of whether I can predict whether or not a movie will be a guilty pleasure in advance. I sure zeroed in on Beyond the Sea pretty quickly. (Any Kevin Spacey movie made after 1997 is a good bet.) And I have a good feeling about The Da Vinci Code. We'll find out soon enough...

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