Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Two from the vault

(Since I have repeatedly open and shut this blog like a vault...)

Today I browsed some discount DVD racks and picked up two of my much-enjoyed movies which I heretofore did not own. It's such a joy to be able to revisit a movie you have loved in years past, pop it in the player whenever the mood strikes, and remind yourself of how it made you feel when you first watched it. Who you were back then. Who you are now, and why you love the movie in a different way.

I am now the owner of Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run (1998), and Taylor Hackford's White Nights (1985). Lola is the sort of movie that I obsessed over as a teenager, aping Franka Potente's shock-red hair time after time, finding romance in her scenes with Moritz Bleibtreu (despite the harsh German accents), and totally "getting" it when I was just a kid who wanted to be cool and Donnie Darko and Memento hadn't come out yet. White Nights appealed to a different part of me, a ballet dancer who was naïve about but fascinated by political intrigue from before I was born. I could lose myself watching the masters, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines, dancing for their freedom. I dreamed I'd one day be as beautiful as Isabella Rossellini (impossible). Lola spoke to my fast heartbeat and hard edges, and Nights to my soft daydreaminess.

In high school I studied ballet under a divorced couple (who still remained "close") that had sought political asylum in the U.S. from Cuba. They were such a fascinating pair, and excellent dancers, and I guess there is something so romantic about escape when you have never had to do it. He was dark and wore tight pants and controlled the classroom with the kind of terror that gets the best out of the students. She was gentle and beautiful but would explode when you were being slovenly in class. I'll never forget when a girl tried to excuse her lethargy with a vague plea that she hadn't eaten much that day. It's sort of a rule in ballet that eating disorders aren't talked about much if at all, so the student had been bold to invoke them. The instructor was so pissed off at this lazy lie of an excuse. "In Cuba, we sometimes ate catfood! And sometimes all we had to eat all day was a little bit of cafecito! But we still had to dance perfectly!" The unspoken "or else" hung in the air.

Run Lola Run is the kind of movie you watch in introductory film classes to learn about nontraditional narrative timelines and sound editing. It's sort of a primer for movies that make you think about heavy stuff like free will, and true love, but that's still totally fun and energetic. Lola is so pretty and determined and fearless, and what teenage girl doesn't want to be like her? Plus, this is the perfect movie to show to people who don't know what it's about. You get to smirk at their furrowed brow when they learn of the 20 minute "ticking time-clock," and then nod at them like "Right?! Get ready," twenty minutes later.

I hope you have seen these movies. If you haven't, please give them a try. I'd love to hear how they sit with people who see them for the first time as adults.


Jim said...

I love Run Lola Run!

prspad said...

Your review makes me want to see "Lola" again!