March 09, 2005

Billy Wilder is God and Dead

Oh, man. I just had one of those it-makes-you-despair-of-the-human-condition kind of moments. I was reading Izzle Pfaff which is a very funny blog I read pretty regular. It's written by a dude named Skot, an actor-cum-regular job haver, with a rambunctious sense of humor that veers toward the grotesque, usually with amusing results.
He's got a post up now about terrible movies, and that made me think of a flick called The Chase, which for over a decade now has earned a spot in my head as pretty much the worst movie I've ever seen. Sometimes other films contend for the title; Batman and Robin was pretty damn bad, and I walked out during the ending of AI ---- I couldn't stop laughing when the aliens showed up, and it was disturbing the other patrons --- but something about The Chase remained fixed in my brain. I think it was the part where the main character and his hostage make love while one of them is supposed to be driving a car 90 miles an hour during a police chase, into the sunset.
That's pretty much the movie, right there. Charlie Sheen plays the crook, Kirsty Swanson plays the hostage, the spend pretty much the whole movie running from the cops and improbably falling in love while hijinks ensue. Flea and Anthony Keidas have cameos. In retrospect, I think probably the worst thing about the movie is that it thinks it's a satire --- a huge plot thread concerns the attempts of the L.A. media to cover the chase, with much derision heaped upon the slavering ratings whores of the media. While meanwhile, the whole hostage-falling-in-love-with-criminal thing is played absolutely straight, and the love scene is supposed to be "steamy" rather than, "highly improbable given the limits of human anatomy and wholly impossible considering the laws of physics."
Now, I saw this movie when it came out, and IMDB tells me that that was in 1994, when I was fourteen or so. If youth does not present defense enough, I beg of you to consider extending further leniency when I tell you that we went to the cheap, shady theater because we were poor, and we intended to see something else --- irony demands that it was Speed, but my fallible memory cannot back that up --- and whatever it was was sold out. I don't recall that any of my fellow youths were shocked and appalled as I was, but I also don't recall that any of them liked it very much either.
Imagine, then, my renewed shock and horror when I idly clicked on IMDB to try and confirm my recollections of this shlockfest and discovered that it had a rating of 5.3 out of 10 --- average, but passable. What really caused me to despair, though, was reading the user comments, and there are dozens of them, by people who declare this to be their favorite film, a masterpiece of the cinematic art whose awesomness will be discerned by "anyone with a brain." Jesus wept.
Now, ragging on people for not liking the same things you like is the behavior of an asshole; I firmly believe that to each his own in matters of taste. You don't force me to watch "The Bachelor," I won't make you read Granta, we'll all live happily ever after. And I'm fine with the idea that this is a movie that many people would idly watch if it came on TBS of a Sunday afternoon out of sheer inertia. That most people might find it passable rather than terrible doesn't disturb me.
Nah, it's definitely the partisans that geek me out. I don't like to think of myself as a snob, but this movie is so bad, y'all. Hell, there's many a bad movie I've enjoyed in my life --- there's a strange alchemy that sometimes occurs when terrible acting, low budgets, and improbable and cliche-ridden dialogue is brought together with a terrible sense of earnestness, rather like how that last jigger of coke and twist of lemon makes the five different well liquors that go into a Long Island ice tea into a palatable, nay delectable, concoction. But these people don't like The Chase like you like a bad movie. They just like it. Out there is a crew of people, dozens, maybe hundreds of them, to whom its total and complete radical awesomeness is so apparent as to go without mention.
And I'm afraid that those people are who they're making all the movies for. And then I think maybe I ought to lock myself in a room with the complete works of Billy Wilder and just cry and cry and cry.

Posted by Diablevert at March 9, 2005 06:07 PM | TrackBack

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