Hold Your Man (1933)

When I was an actress, in the early 1930s, I played a girl in love. In this movie I wanted to marry you, but social issues kept getting in the way. Labor struggles, for example: once we had a wedding, but the minister had to go out on strike before he could put the ring on my finger. We chased him through the halls of the apartment building and into the street, but lost him in the crowd of striking preachers. After that you got disillusioned about marriage and started dating other people, including a tall, dark and sullen girl who worked at the candy counter with me. (I used to be a lot smaller and blonder back then.) We all went out to dinner at a restaurant, and to teach you a lesson I decided to disguise myself as the waitress. I became even smaller and blonder, and more intriguing; everyone wanted to dance with me. But you kept getting distracted, and eventually I was so discouraged I turned into a piece of candy in a plastic box. Not a very appealing candy, either — I was lumpy and misshapen, and my chocolate coating was a pale streaky brown. However, the minister eventually returned from the picket line and offered to finish the ceremony. We all met again at the restaurant and the preacher got ready to put the ring on my hand, but it was so huge it fell right off again. So the minister had to run to the restaurant’s coal-burning stove, melt the ring down, and re-shape it to fit my dainty finger. I thought things might fall through again at any moment. I thought, “This wedding is even more suspenseful than the one in Hold Your Man!” (Although this movie was otherwise pretty dissimilar. I was less glamorous than Jean Harlow, and not in a reformatory.) But finally the wedding was complete, and we were both overcome with joy — all our doubts and struggles were past. You gazed into my eyes and told me, “Now you’ll be my lover forever. Though you might not realize it yet, you’re going to die soon. But you’ll be a beautiful ghost, my beautiful lover from beyond the grave, so you see nothing will ever change.” That’s what I call a happy ending.

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Your Friends and Neighbors (1998)

When I arrived at the office everybody was huddled in a semicircle around the TV in the corner of the Content Department cubicle. They were watching a video of Your Friends and Neighbors. When the movie ended, the Senior Editor noticed that I’d arrived and asked me what I thought of the movie. I said I hated it. “No, Juliet,” she informed me calmly, “it was a film of tremendous courage.” “IT WAS A PIECE OF CRAP,” I replied, less calmly. The Senior Editor repeated exactly what she had said before. Then she repeated it again, trembling slightly. The other reviewers on staff stared at us. I figured I would have to quit on the spot, forgetting that I’d already quit my job at the web site six months earlier.

Being John Malkovich (1999)

The night before seeing Being John Malkovich, I saw Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola. They were shooting a movie outside my office (I work in a film archive). When I arrived, Sofia was buried up to her neck in orange dirt; some of my colleagues kicked more dirt into her face as they walked by. I thought this was sort of mean, but it did make the scene look better. Meanwhile, I told Spike Jonze about this series of dreams I’d been having lately. In the dreams I worked with a bunch of people who got sent to Hell every night. They always alluded to these visits with a mixture of horror and pride — they seemed to think that this experience set them apart from others and made them fascinating people, sort of like getting a lot of tattoos. Eventually, I got sent along with them, and discovered that Hell was full of giant cartoon beasts resembling Pokemon. They chased everyone around the office for eternity; a few people were lucky enough to escape through a revolving glass door. I got to the door and woke up, and Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola were preparing to be interviewed by an Italian telejournalist. They were showing how youthful and fun-loving they were by roller-skating on a frozen bridge. As noted film curator Edith Kramer pointed out, the combination of ice and roller skates seemed dangerous. At the time, a group of turkeys was sitting on the waterfront, near the Italian telejournalist’s airplane. I made the mistake of hissing at one of the turkeys, and it suddenly jumped on another turkey’s shoulders and the stack of two turkeys came running toward me, looking very menacing. Luckily they lost track of what they were doing and wandered away. Later, the whole flock of turkeys took flight, continuing their long journey south for the winter.

King Kong (1933)

We were in the Islands. Fay Wray had her photo taken in front of a biplane, with a jaunty white scarf around her neck and a featureless pilot beside her. Then the plane took off and disappeared over the summit of a distant mountain. A few minutes later, aged some 60 years by her terrible adventure, bloated and with her hair all disarranged, Fay Wray came running back down the mountain, carrying a sack of grapefruits. The grapefruits were spilling out of the sack and rolling down the mountain. I thought, “pamplemousses.”