' ' Cinema Romantico: "Life Moves Pretty Fast"

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

"Life Moves Pretty Fast"

Considering I was raised a hard knock youth on the rough and tumble streets of west central Iowa......wait, that's not right. Let me rephrase......considering I was raised by a loving family on the pleasant streets of west central Iowa it's perhaps odd that a seminal film of my youth would be John Singleton's debut opus "Boyz N The Hood" (1991) but few films I saw in those years were as involving or moving. And for quite awhile Cuba Gooding Jr. was Tre Styles. He was no one else. When he turned up in "A Few Good Men" as Cpl. Carl Hammaker, nope, he was still Tre Styles. When he escorted Dustin Hoffmann everywhere via helicopter in "Outbreak", nope, he was still Tre Styles. Until......

"Jerry Maguire." As obsessed as I currently am with Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown" is how obsessed I once was with his "Jerry Maguire." And at that moment Cuba Gooding Jr. stopped being Tre Styles and became NFL wide receiver Rod Tidwell. "If I gotta ride your ass like Zorro, you gonna show me the money." And, as far as I'm concerned, that's who he remains to this day. Cuba Gooding Jr.? Star of "Snow Dogs" and too numerous to mention direct to the bargain DVD bin "thrillers"? Nope. He's Rod.

I will admit to a fondness for the 2005 Christmas-themed film "The Family Stone." Oh, it's mostly tepid, certainly, but I harbor a small crush on Rachel McAdams in that film and it's the only movie I ever saw at Chicago's old Esquire Theater before they closed it down and, well, most of all I dig the scene when Sarah Jessica Parker's tightwad Meredith Morton finally loosens up and gets down on Christmas Eve night to Maxine Nightingale's "Right Back Where We Started From."

I Netflix this movie every December and skip through a great deal of it just to get to these moments between Luke Wilson's Berkeley-ized documentary filmmaker and Sarah Jessica Parker at the townie bar. I like it when he says to her "You have a freak flag, you just don't fly it" because it always reminds me to keep my freak flag at full mast. I like when we are introduced to Paul Schneider's Brad, a long ago flame of Rachel McAdams' character, and the way he plays this guy as someone who is just so nice and genuine and so, so, so clueless about women. And most of all I like when "Right Back Where We Started From" comes on the jukebox and she makes Brad dance with her because......I don't know. I just do. Maybe because I like how she gives him love advice in the midst of cutting a rug but probably because I just like busting a move to a song I cherish and that's what she's doing in that moment. I really dig it. And every time I've ever heard that song for the last six years I've thought of Sarah Jessica shimmying. Until......

I think what I loved so much about Lissie's after-Lollapalooza show on Saturday night (Sunday morning) at the so-called Back Porch of House of Blues was how it was all so unexpected. I didn't even know it was happening until about 36 hours before it did. I didn't expect to meet a husband & wife from Orange County who scheduled their family vacation to Chicago specifically so their 19 year old son could attend Lollapalooza, their 19 year old son who they smuggled into a 21+ only show not so he could drink but just so he could hear the music, their 19 year old son who at an autograph session slipped Lykke Li his phone #. I didn't expect to watch the show down front with a lovely girl who doubled as Lissie's friend since the 7th grade (Lissie hails from Rock Island, Illinois). I didn't expect to pay $9.50 for a Maker's on the rocks. I didn't expect Lissie's voice in person to be the closest I'll ever get to having heard Janis Joplin's voice in person. And I did not in any way, shape, or form expect Lissie to play a cover of "Right Back Where I Started From."

Lissie is known for hella good covers (that always underscore how good the song is in the first place while still re-inventing it) but if I'd made a list of potential covers for that evening's show beforehand "Right Back Where I Started From" probably wouldn't have cracked the Top 73,000. But she did, and she and her two man band rocked it. They rocked it. And I danced and I sang along because I have a freak flag, damn it, and I was flying it.

I'll probably still Netflix "The Family Stone" this December but that song will never make me think of Sarah Jessica shimmying again.


Derek Armstrong said...

Glad to see someone else who appreciates The Family Stone. I went to a free screening a couple years ago, knowing nothing about it, and was very pleasantly surprised. In my idealized version of the world, the world is full of liberal families in beautiful old houses who wish they had more deaf gay sons than they currently do.

Nick Prigge said...

"In my idealized version of the world, the world is full of liberal families in beautiful old houses who wish they had more deaf gay sons than they currently do." I like that. Amen.

I really don't care for the movie as a whole but there a lot of little parts sprinkled throughout that I love a whole lot. I like that part, too, opposite the whole townie bar scene where Clare Danes is talking about her trip to Alaska. That's probably the sentimentalist in me but so be it. It's cool. That's what I call a vacation.