What’s the simplest way to transport yourself to another world? Nostalgia has no limits here and age has taught me it’s the simple things in life that really add up to a deep experience. No, this “Woo-Woo Man” isn’t talking about astral projection or a psychedelic journey. I’m talking about movies or binge-watching a series on the variety of streaming platforms we have at our fingertips these days.
The very first thing I had published was when I became a movie critic for The Greenville News in my birthplace of Greenville, SC. Way back in 2000 it was a big deal to get one’s picture in the paper without it being a mugshot. My wife would agree since I met her in line on that cold, fateful January day when I was assigned to review the movie, The Gift. Crappy movie other than Katie Holmes and Cate Blanchet. How can you go wrong with Cate Blanchet? But I did get the love of my life, so the title was apt. I can still see Pookie’s pretty, red hair whipping in the wind like Aaron Tippen’s antennas.
This is about the movies you know so well you can watch them with your eyes closed and still know what the actors are doing in a given scene—the comfort foods of cinema.
I’m talking about movies that make you feel life in a visceral fashion—your heart thumps harder because your protagonist is in a dire situation. People call me 00Sutty in jest, but I am definitely a life-long 007 fan. Roger Moore is my man and The Spy Who Loved Me was my favorite of his seven turns as 007. Movies bond people together in a way no other shared experience could. My daughter and I still cheer when James careens off the cliff in the opening sequence only to have the UK flag in the form of a parachute save his bacon accompanied by the theme song pumping. If you know your Bond history, you know Bond was back from the abyss in this moment. However, I submit that Skyfall with Daniel Craig is the best James Bond film, hands down. Never before, or since, had I watched a two-and-a-half-hour-long movie and wanted two more hours. I was out of breath at the end of that movie and still get misty over M’s passing. Dame Judy Dench was my favorite M.
I believe in the spirit of Santa Claus, so I put The Polar Express up top of my list of Christmas movies. I must watch it at least once a season. I put this Tom Hanks classic against the likes of Die Hard and Scrooged in terms of top five Christmas movies.
You know it’s bad when nudity, violence, and/or drugs doesn’t help a movie’s cause. A hilarious movie, without meaning to be hilarious, was Kurt Russell’s sequel to Escape from New York with Escape from LA. I never want to see the latter again and never want to find out whether the former was any good. You’re still my huckleberry, though, Kurt. Speaking of horrible movies, there was the great Black Swan that curled around my potty. My editor declined to publish that particular review. Perhaps she had a point. Perhaps I did, too.
Where were you when Baby got put in her corner?
“Who you gonna call?”
“Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now!” –Vivian.
The mark of an exceptional movie, like Ghostbusters, is that it appeals to all ages. Some movies are timeless. Like a classic wardrobe, they never go out of style. When you consider all the talent and quality writing that must align with the sun and the moon, you may decide that magic is involved. I came to that conclusion, perhaps you will too. Like my favorite movie of all time, Parent Trap with Haley Mills, I appreciate the adult humor I now understand, while welcoming the child within back, if for just this one pocket in time. There’s just something about an old movie that harkens us back to the days when cigarettes didn’t hurt you.
Some of my go-tos for when life has handed you a “sh*t-sandwich” of a day are: This is Spinal Tap, Zoolander, and Team America: World Police. Be careful with Team America. Even though it has puppets, it’s not for children and some easily-offended adults. You may want to skip that puppet sex scene all together, cause you won’t be able to unsee it.
Some movies entertain while giving a history lesson. As a testament to the talented actors that Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise are, not once did I think of Forrest Gump and Lt. Dan while watching Apollo 13.
Does an artform, like movies, not represent where our collective is? Would we not say “greed is good” and throw out a movie like Wall Street when we think of the excess of the 80’s? Speaking of 80’s movies: What I wouldn’t give to see a movie like Back to the Future for the first time all over again. As a kid, I thought Michael J. Fox was the coolest dude on the planet and that opinion never changed, it just deepened with the appreciation of time and his gracefulness in his disease.
No longer are we a slave to Blockbuster Video on a Friday night. Progress comes in many forms, thanks to technology. I am grateful for this simple pleasure. And another thing: If I ever win the lottery, after I donate to a worthwhile charity like Hospice, I’m building my own movie theater with a big popcorn machine.
Movies have a way of transporting you to another time and place in a way that Star Trek’s transporters never could. Why is it so hard to believe we are timeless if we create timeless things? Happy New Year, Lowcountry. Sutty loves ya.