Hold the art, gimme a flick with great extras

I find it almost impossible to watch cinema. This is for two reasons:

One, my palate has been irretrievably vitiated by a constant diet of trashy teen pix, romcom, bromance, vilely stupid adventure flicks, indie gay comedy, and B-minus monster movies dated pre-1977. This means I fall asleep after ten minutes of Babette’s Feast, and I have a perfect 0 for 0 record at having seen the Oscar nominees in any year before the ceremony.

Two, I’m a huge wuss. I wake up screaming at “the least little thing,” or so I’m told, by friends who have urged me to watch one film or another and had me come back to them later, reproachfully: “I asked you if there were mean people in this and you said no.” What they actually answered when I asked that question was, “It’s a really good movie.” Or maybe, “[Lead actor] is amazing in this.” Or possibly, “The cinematography is incredible.”
Okay, I would see through that. Michael Phillips, who for some unimaginable reason is still allowed to review movies that are not about men massacring women, always praises such efforts for “great cinematography.” This is his code for, “The woman gets it with a chainsaw.” So in a weird way I know I can trust Phillips, if invariably to try to steer me wrong. Now and then, however, a friend will manage to sidestep the all-important “mean-people” question, and I won’t catch them at it, and then I wake up screaming, which is unfair to my husband.

Hence my terrible palate.

Mothra vs. Godzilla

This is how I wind up buying my husband an array of used DVDs for Christmas and birthdays, which I am careful to screen beforehand in case they’re a) too terrible even for us or b) cinema.

Typical titles include Accepted, Role Models, House Bunny, Women In Trouble, Out at the Wedding, Modesty Blaise, I Love You, Man, I Spy (the Eddie Murphy & Owen Wilson version), Bridesmaids, Shooting Fish, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Metrosexuality, Sugar and Spice, For A Good Time Call, Balls of Fury, D.E.B.S. Man of the House, Starsky and Hutch (Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson again), Mothra vs. Godzillaand the Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson cowboy collaborations.

Modesty Blaise

One of the fun things about watching juvenile, stupid, or wildly indie flicks is the extra materials. Lots of times filmmakers blow you off with a lame slideshow listing the cast’s filmographies, or a series of talking heads saying how nice the director is to work with, which proves only that actors (like authors) really do lie for a living. But once in a while something tasty comes along.

For example, the fake interview between a young pron fan podcaster and the two actresses who play the adult film stars in Women In Trouble. He’s a hilarious hosehead and the ladies are all class.

Christopher Walken, Balls of Fury

Or the way the entire cast and most of the credited production staff of Accepted skewers Adam Herschman and his character Glen, in between bits where Herschman, 122% in character, fully justifies their remarks.

Or director Lee Friedlander’s wildly inappropriate interviews with the cast, apparently shot in her garage, after Out at the Wedding.

Or Justin Long’s “gay porn star boyfriend of Miri’s high school crush” ad libs for Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Rikki Beadle Blair, Metrosexuality

Or footage of the screenwriter-director-star’s mom following Metrosexuality. (Mom kicks ass. She should have been in the movie.)

Or director Angela Robinson’s saga of how D.E.B.S. came to be.

Or the video about the actresses learning how to be cheerleaders from Man of the House.

Or Jackie Chan’s unbelievable stunt footage dissecting action scenes from Shanghai Knights.

When have you been pleasantly surprised by Special Features slash Deleted Scenes slash Blooper Reels?

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Hold the art, gimme a flick with great extras — 2 Comments

  1. I love extras when they really offer something. Barbra Streisand’s extras on Yentl I thoroughly enjoyed. There were such bits as her salting in females dressed as men so that her own character (who is pretending to be a Jewish scholar) would not stand out as much.

    Another one I really loved turned out to be a separate extra, specifically one of the actors in the Sharpe’s Rifles series began making videotapes of their shootings. The first couple are typically dumb, jerky shots of actors getting drunk and thinking themselves hilarious, but he got a lot better at it–and those films were being shot all over Europe while major events were actually happening, as they pretended history. Pretty amazing.

  2. Examples of DVDs I have screened hoping they would be fun that turned out instead to be art, or possibly just lame:
    The Royal Tennenbaums
    Napoleon Dynamite
    Obvious Child
    And Then Came Lola
    The TV Set (I totally sympathized with Sigourney Weaver’s character)
    Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
    Lost in Translation

    You may now call me a philistine.