Saturday, June 6, 2009

MapQuesting a Meme

Rick Olson of the superb Coosa Creek Cinema has tagged me for a meme. Here's the Q 'n D of it all:

1.) Think of a place (real or fictional) and time (past, present, future) portrayed in a movie (or a few) that you would love to visit.
2.) List the setting, period, applicable movie, and year of the applicable movie’s release (for reference).
3.) Explain why, however you’d like (bullet points, list, essay form, screenshots, etc.). If this is a time and place that you have intimate knowledge of, feel free to describe what was done well and what wasn’t done well in portraying it.
4.) If possible, list and provide links to any related movies, websites, books, and/or articles that relate to your choice (s).
5.) Modify Rules #1-4 to your liking. And come up with a better name for this meme.
6.) Link back to this Getafilm post in your post, please.
7.) Tag at least five others to participate!

That's from the GetaFilm site hosted by Daniel Getahun who is the originator of this meme. I had to think about this for a little bit. I don't mind the whole meme thing, it's just sometimes it's hard for me to follow the rules. So I'll do my best. I started thinking about what places I would like to visit and oddly enough almost all of my conclusions came to some form of a director's alternate universe. These films, with the exception of one title, exist in the years they were released. As is the case with any of these lists, this is in no way a definitive culmination of my brainstorming...but it's the best I could come up with for now, so let's get to it...

I'm going to do this by chronological order of when the film came out (Oh, and all of my DVD's are boxed up in storage right now, so all screen caps are coming from the net and some of them aren't as specific as I would be had I access to my own collection):

Duck Soup (1933, directed by Leo McCarey)

Ah yes, what a maddening euphoria it would have been to exist in Freedonia. Duck Soup is a film that takes place in an alternate universe, sure, but it seems eerily absurd like The United States of America. There are a lot of parallels to Freedonia's problems and the problems we face in America today, so how great would it be to have lived in Freedonia with a president who (gasps) tells the truth. Oh how we could have used someone like Rufus T. Firefly in our previous administration to just tell it like it is...if only there was a song...

"If any form of pleasure is exhibited, report to me and it will be prohibited! I'll put my foot down, so shall it be... this is the land of the free! The last man nearly ruined this place he didn't know what to do with it. If you think this country's bad off now, just wait till I get through with it! The country's taxes must be fixed, and I know what to do with it. If you think you're paying too much now, just wait till I get through with it!"

Anyway, that's just part of the fun of this film. It's one of the all time great comedies, and I think it would have been a hell of a ride going through what we went through for eight years (and are still feeling the effects of) with someone as blunt and rudely honest as Firefly. Hey, at least we would get the truth.

The Alternate Universe that is 1970's Italian Horror (1970's, directors: Lucio Fulci, Umberto Lenzi, and Dario Argento)

Whenever I talk about Italian Horror on this blog I almost always throw around the word ethereal. These films displace the viewer creating alternate realities that are unlike anything in the genre. Sometimes that's a good thing, but more often than not it's a bad thing. Take for instance the place I would love to visit from all of these 1970 Italian Horror films: "New York City". This "NYC" is actually Rome posing as the Big Apple (except for a few of the exteriors in Fulci's Zombi 2), and often times (like Kubrick's "New York" in Eyes Wide Shut) it does create an eerie feeling (usually if in the hands of Argento or a motivated Fulci, not hacks like Lenzi) that displaces the viewer. It's also the backdrop for what are some of the craziest goings-on I've seen in any horror film. The "city" is also often the catalyst for sending our protagonists in jungles of the Amazon where they are killed by cannibals. I think I'd like to go there to tell these characters that you don't have to stand there and watch them eat your can run and get the hell out of there!

More than anything the "New York" and other alternate realities of Italian Horror (especially "Louisiana" from Fulci's The Beyond) are home to sport coat wearing zombies; killer spiders (some real, some not so much) that hiss like snakes, and chew off people's faces; and among other things, an all Jazzercise channel that gets interrupted by tons of infected, blood-thirsty scientists. Come on! Who wouldn't want to be a part of that swingin' "city".

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999, directed by Anthony Minghella)

The Rome of Minghella's masterpiece (I must really want to visit Italy) is the most realistic out of all of these places that compile this list. The Rome I want to visit exists in the 1950's, specifically the Rome as experience by rich, easy-going playboy Dickie Greenleaf, his fiance Marge, and a mysterious "friend", Tom Ripley. Before the horrifying events unfold that really set this brilliant film in motion, the viewer is treated to a bevy of luscious scenery and stunning on-location cinematography that made me want to, for the only time in my life, wish I were rich. To be rich and to be in Dickie's position -- to drive around Rome on a Vespa with a beautiful woman, drink expensive alcohol while laying on the beach, sitting in cafes all day, have no responsibilities -- and to have it all in beautiful 1950's Rome...well sign me up. I could live there forever. Especially when Tom and Dickie go out on the boat and are surrounded by nothing but beauty and an eerie silence, a man could definitely be inspired there. Well know...that thing happens...

American Movie (1999, directed by Chris Smith)

You can kind of call this an alternate reality because really I don't think amateur horror filmmaker Mark Borchardt has any idea what reality means. But man is he passionate about getting his film made, and that passion is infectious. The specific place I would want to be is in Milwaukee with Mark, all the time, talking about horror film (it's no secret what a fan I am of the genre), and hoping that just maybe, someday, I could be as passionate about something as he is about getting his film Coven made. The specific scene I'm thinking of is when he's editing late into the night at the local university, splicing together scenes at the last second, mulling over every decision like Scorsese would with his films. It's a scene that shows the drive (even though often he appears to have no drive) this man has. It's kind of like the Coens' Fargo: these people are etched out of a specific geography, and I wouldn't mind being there, because really, there's a character on every corner.

Apatown, U.S.A. (2000's, directors: Judd Apatow, Greg Mottola, and Akiva Schaffer)

This is another one of the alternate realities that I would love to live in where guys like Steve Carrell, Jonah Hill, and Seth Rogen are hooking up with beautiful women. I'm like those guys...and I guess this alternate universe isn't so far fetched since I am getting married this summer to a beautiful hey, us nerds do get lucky sometimes (for the record I don't know how I fooled my fiance...). Films like Superbad and The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up exist in that bizarre Apatow realm where geek is chic and it doesn't matter what you look like, what your social status is, or any of that crap: it's your individuality (and weirdness...or read: geekiness) that sets apart from everyone else and makes you attractive.

I threw Akiva Schaffer's name on there, too, because he's obviously indebted to Apatow's style, plus I've been obsessed with Hot Rod lately: it's a brisk 80 minute comedy starring Andy Samberg that also exists in the same retro, thrift store habilimented (thank you Thesauras iPhone app!) universe where the dork gets the extremely beautiful girl (Isla Fisher) because they don't change who they are. By the way, the movie actually is pretty funny and I can't convince myself to stop watching whenever I come across it on Direct TV.

Well, there ya have it. I proabbly flubbed the rules a bit, but these are the places in film I would most like to visit.'s taggin' time:

Troy, Sam, Ed, Andrew, and Ali.


  1. Fun, eclectic list you have here. And as for this.

    so hey, us nerds do get lucky sometimes

    A-Men to that, Kevin, Amen.

  2. Thanks Ryan. I'm glad you can relate (I'm assuming) to that line. Like I said...I don't know how I fooled my fiance, but hey, I'm glad I'm getting married. I remember seeing Knocked Up in the theater and someone after the movie who sitting close to me saying: "that was so unrealistic, why she be with such a slob like that." I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and point to me and my fiance who were there seeing the movie to show her that this oddity does occur every now and then, haha.

    Anywho...thanks for stopping by.

  3. A noble interpretation of Daniel's rules. I especially like your inclusion of "American Movie." Alternate universe, indeed!

  4. Thanks Rick. I can't wait until I start writing about what my favorite movies from 1999 are (for my Revisiting 1999 project), because American Movie will definitely be on the list. I've heard rumors that some of the film was scripted, but I refuse to believe it...I don't want to believe someone as bizarre and brilliant and utterly unique as Mark Borchardt had lines being fed to him.

    "It's alright. It's okay. There's something to live for. Jesus told me so."

    Man, I can't get enough of that movie. The DVD is great because you can actually watch Coven...boy is it bad.

  5. Wow. Great responses. Assuming I can find the time to tackle this one myself, I'll be hard pressed to top yours, Kevin.

  6. Outstanding! Thanks for playing along, and read "rule" #5 closely - you followed it to the letter.

    These are some fascinating picks, to be sure, and interesting that like Rick, you ended up in Italy. I've been meaning to watch Ripley again one of these days and part of the reason why is that I remember it having a keen sense of place and time, with terrific production design.

    American Movie is a great pick as well, haha, though I think I'd rather visit than live there, if given the option...

    Apatown - is this an original term? It should be credited to you. As it happens I've just come across Knocked Up on TV. Haven't seen it since the theater. What's ridiculous is how much time Heigl, who works at friggin' E, remember, spends being disgusted by Rogen (not just disinterested), only to fall for the guy as he acts more and more outrageous. Crazy - and awesome, I suppose. Congrats on your upcoming wedding and thanks again for participating!

  7. Andrew:

    If you get to it I can't wait to read what you come up with. Thanks for stopping by.


    I'm glad I did your meme some justice. I will confess that I don't much care for memes (too much pressure, haha!) but I liked the loose rules of yours. Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by to see what I came up with.

    Apparently, like you pointed out, I have a soft spot for Italy. The Rome of Minghella's film is a thing of antiquated beauty, which I can imagine is what the real Rome is like.

    Yes...I would rather visit Mark instead of live with him. It's great to see that there's some fans out there of this truly masterful documentary.

    I don't know if I've come up with Apatown...but if I did I will gladly take credit for it! Haha.

    Thanks for the kind words in regards to my wedding. I hope to see you around here again.