' ' Cinema Romantico: Kathryn Bigelow Makes 5 Movies You Didn't Know Could Emotionally Destroy You

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kathryn Bigelow Makes 5 Movies You Didn't Know Could Emotionally Destroy You

I had not seen Neko Case live since 2009 and, believe it or not, I had somehow forgotten how good she is live – the supreme overpoweringness of her voice. Sweet Mary mother of God, that voice. It batters you like a hurricane, but you don’t flee. You can’t flee. You can only stand there and smile and appreciate it and let it wrap you in its intense embrace. And made me think about what Neko Case could do with other songs. I’m not talking about classic songs, like “Farewell Angelina”, which if she sang…..like, damn. No, I’m talking about songs that shouldn’t necessarily pulverize you. Think, for example, about Neko Case re-imagining “Margaritaville.” Think about her singing the line “Wasting away again in Margaritaville” and think about how emphatically she'd belt “Wasting.” Hearing her cover it, you wouldn't think of Parrotheads - you'd think of a dispirited man slumped at a tropical bar during the storm season with a warm Corona and a serious alimony check he just wrote that's about to bounce. That long lost shaker of salt would be a metaphor for life, man. It'd be the cover album to end all cover albums - Neko Case: Songs That You Didn’t Know Could Emotionally Destroy You.

Then, the other night, when I stumbled upon Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 opus “Point Break” showing on the Sundance Channel (wait, what?), I flashed back to Neko Case singing songs you never thought could emotionally destroy you. Because really, I never thought that a film about surfing bank robbers starring Keanu Reeves could emotionally destroy me, but when Patrick Swayze is standing on the beach before the herculean waves of the mystical 50 Year Storm - “it's not tragic do die doing what you love” - it never fails to emotionally destroy me. But that's what Kathryn Bigelow, auteur extraordinaire, did do and can do. And it got me to thinking.

It got me to thinking about other movies Kathryn Bigelow could have made. It got me to thinking specifically about movies that you never would have thought could have emotionally destroyed you but that in the hands of Kathryn Bigelow could have left you welling up and reaching for the Kleenex and rising from your seat and applauding with simultaneous cries of delirious "Bravo!".

Kathryn Bigelow Makes 5 Movies You Didn't Know Could Emotionally Destroy You

Terminal Velocity. It's not so much the premise - though, rest assured, Bigelow could make a premise of a KGB agent and skydiver battling the Russian mafia over gold sing - and it's definitely not anything to do with Charlie Sheen. No, it's the presence of one Natassja Kinski, because I often like to imagine an alternate reality where Bigelow/Kinski is like Cameron/Schwarzenegger. Oh, 'tis a beautiful dream.

30 Days of Night. Kathryn's already kicked ass on one vampire film so why not take a crack at another with an immaculate foundation - a remote Alaskan town undergoing a monthlong Polar Night resultilng an obligatory vampire outbreak - that went so wasted. She could jettison Josh Hartnett, bump Melissa George up to the primary role and let the arctic atmospherics ooooooooooooooze.

Quicksilver. Because I'm pretty sure we need Bigelow to make a bike messenger movie. Her “Quicksilver” would be to “Premium Rush” as “Casablanca” is to “Havana”.

Money Train. This, I feel like, almost isn't even playing fair. This is like LeBron James in a layup line. Give Ms. Bigelow a film starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson as foster brothers, a subway train piled high with stacks of cash, Jennifer Lopez as a character named Grace Santiago, and she'd do the rest. They'd be pulling two dudes out of the audience on a nightly basis around the world to play Wesley and Woody in the stage version. This thing'd have a Criterion edition.

Raise the Titanic. The tag: They said that God himself couldn't sink it. Now they say that no man could raise it. And he can't. Because only she can. Jessica Chastain stars in.....“Raise The Titanic”.


Wretched Genius said...

Look, I was a Bigelow fanboy long before her middle east phase, but even I have to admit that she cannot salvage a bad script on her own. Yes, she made the vampire classic Near Dark, the surprisingly decent Point Break, and the glorious mess that is Strange Days (a movie I absolutely adore but have a hard time recommending to non-cinephiles). But she also failed to elevate the pulpy premise of Blue Steel, directed the completely rote K-19: The Widowmaker, and made The Weight of Water so pointless that I usually forget it even exists until I see it on her IMDB page. The lady is good, but she's not a miracle worker.

Nick Prigge said...

All fair points, though I might argue that her stylistic flourishes in Blue Steel & K-19 made them redeemable in spite of their average screenplays.

Still, I will admit to embellishing the premise of this post. I (over)embellish for effect. Sometimes.