Over at Crooked Timber they’re having a discussion of Movies To Avoid Watching Before You Die. The discussion there leads me to three conclusions about the commenters:
(1) They are, for the most part, young, as witness their focus on movies like Starship Troopers. If they were more antiquated, as I am, they could not possibly have failed to mention the worst movie of all time: Endless Love. The full plot summary, from IMDB:
“Two young kids fall in love with each other. But the passion is too consuming for the parents of Jade. The parents try to stop them from seeing each other. But when this doesn’t work David burns down the house and is sent away. This doesn’t stop him from seeing her. When he gets out he goes to look for her. But in the end the passion for his first love is too strong and she has to leave or this love will kill both of them.”
In addition to burning her house down and stalking her, David is partly responsible for the death of Jade’s father, and her mother tries to seduce him. (She saw the two of them making love, and realized wistfully how empty her own life was. Or something.) At the end, Jade says: “But mother, no one will ever love me like that again.” Inexplicably, she seems to think this is a bad thing, and the movie is set up in such a way as to make her seem right.
The only reason ever to watch this movie is if you find yourself wondering: gosh, I wonder why there is such a thing as feminism? Then again, how many people are truly in the dark on that one?
Oh, and did I mention that Jade is played by Brooke Shields? *Shudders.*
(2) The commenters at Crooked Timber never dated a movie critic. If, like me, they had, they might have seen a lot more truly bad movies. The one that sticks out in my mind is Leave It To Beaver. If, like most sane adults, you missed it, you can read the plot summary here and count your blessings.
Best line: Ward, who is sitting with Beaver inside an enormous golden teacup where Beaver has hidden: “You know what ‘unconditional love’ means, don’t you, Beav?”
(3) The commenters at Crooked Timber have never been conscripted into a movie while on kibbutz. I was. For one day, our work assignment was to be extras in a party scene shot in a building all covered with black cloth so that it would appear to be night. In Galilee. In July. Hahaha. One of the actors was supposed to play a guitar, but he couldn’t; I was playing it during the many, many interminable breaks, and at one point they turned on the cameras unexpectedly, shoved the guitar at me, and said “Play something!” For some reason that I have never been able to understand, the only thing that leapt to mind was Joni Mitchell’s ‘Circle Game’, and that’s how I, age 22, came to be immortalized on screen singing that particular song.
If the commenters at Crooked Timber had been in our party scene, they would not have nominated pikers like Starship Troopers or Vanilla Sky. They would have gone with Stigma, the 1981 Israeli movie whose party scene it was.
(If anyone knows how to get a copy of Stigma, please email me. I had the worst haircut of all time in that movie: I’m a complete sucker for inadvertent humor, and I was unable to resist the idea of getting my hair cut in a place with a sign that said: “Barber Saloon”, because it was so wonderful. During the party scene, I was still living with the results.)