' Cinema Romantico: Like a Kid in a Candy Store

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Like a Kid in a Candy Store

Before we delve any deeper into the film I saw last night (a certain film featuring a young Harrison Ford in a brown fedora) allow me to spout a few adjectives describing its quality. Rollicking fun. Pulse-pounding. Huge, massive gulps of fresh air. A true cinematic wonderland. Or as J. Peterman said of the "pants story" told to him by Cosmo Kramer - "That is one ripping good yarn."

Going into the theater last night I was of the opinion "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was the finest action movie of all time. And now, having finally viewed it on the big screen, I believe it even more strongly. It's the best. It's not even a contest. It's a virtual extravaganza of exceedingly brilliant shots (I could watch the sequence at Marion's bar in Nepal a hundred times for the camera-work alone) and action setpieces and a blueprint for how to write this type of movie.

And I didn't just hear Indy saying to Marion, "It's important. Trust me." I heard it echoing all throughout the grand old theater that is the Music Box. It gave me shivers. And goosebumps. I had goosebumps damn near the whole time. And the unforced smile.

Watching it last night took me all the way back to my childhood. During the sliver of time when there was a VCR war between Beta and VHS (and yes, this war DID exist, which only indicates how old I am) our family chose the wrong side and bought a Beta. And I remember - years after Beta had become extinct - sitting in the basement of our house on 220 Third St and indulging in a Beta copy of the "Raiders of the Lost Ark". These indulgences often led to me tying my own variations of a whip around the brown couch posing as the truck hauling the ark. I would use my plastic green light-saber as the Staff of Ra to feign locating the location of the Well of Souls.

Remembering all this last night triggered something in me. As I've gotten older, I have become a card-carrying member of the film snob movement. I am, of course, quite proud of this. I love being able to go on rambling diatribes about how "Chinatown" is not simply a story of a murder mystery but a full explanation of the meaning of life. I throughly enjoy being able to proclaim that I have seen every Kate Winslet movie ever made (raise your hand if you've watched "Jude" AND "Hideous Kinky"). Being a cinema snob is great fun - at least to me. But I've come to realize some things can get lost in all this snobbery.

Pretty much all of my favorite movies now are movies I came to as a so-called adult. There just aren't a lot of movies left that I enjoy now as much as I enjoyed as a kid. "Star Wars", for sure. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". "The Wizard of Oz". And "Raiders of the Lost Ark". These are movies that were awesome when I was young and continue to be awesome as I grow older. They transport me back to a much more innocent time. The importance of these types of movies is immense.

Whenever I would watch one of those good old-fashioned action movies, my dad would inevitably would stroll in at some point and say, "Did they get away again?" For instance, if he walked in during "Star Wars" he would ask, "Did they get out of the trash compactor again?" That's a reassuring thing. There comes the point in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when Indy is fighting the big, bald Nazi and Marion is locked inside the plane's cockpit and the fuel truck is spewing gasoline everywhere. But every time Indy defeats the big, bald Nazi and he gets Marion out of the locked cockpit and they both flee the plane seconds before it explodes from the spewing gas. Every time. This will never change. They will continue to escape for the rest of my life and should I ever have kids when I force them to watch the movie they will still continue to escape.

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" was a masterpiece of filmmaking when I was a child and it remains that way. But it's more than just a masterful movie. Yesterday was a day I needed to feel young. Desperately. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" made that happen. And I know that it always will.

1 comment:

Wretched Genius said...

In my parents' house there is a box in the attic that to this day conatins my old Beta copies of 'Raiders' and 'Temple of Doom.' Beta was the better choice, and the rest of the world are idiots with low standards.