Something I’ve always been curious about is how folks decide what to watch next. Granted, I know most of us don’t “have a system” or anything, but I’ve spent enough agonizing hours with friends and family to know that some people can be pretty damn particular about picking that next movie. My friend Kevin and I have held a pretty regular weekly movie night for the last 13 years, and way back at the turn of the millennium we spent about an hour each week walking up and down the aisles of Blockbuster or Hollywood Video trying to pick that next flick. My part in this process basically boiled down to constantly asking him, “What about this…?”, which was inevitably followed by, “No, I’m not ready for that one…” Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe those hours browsing for that perfect movie. Eventually, so that I wouldn’t murder him, we compromised and started working on complex lists of Movies-To-See divided into genre, director and actor/actresses. I’m pretty sure that saved my sanity and his life.
The point is, I’ve never had all that much trouble picking out a film. I’ll watch pretty much anything; from the artiest art house flick like Bergman’s The Seventh Seal to Chris Seaver’s almost unwatchable Mulva: Zombie Asskicker (both of which I’ve seen multiple times.) Typically the movie has only really needed to be within arm’s length to qualify. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a method to my madness at times. For the most part I tend to play an ongoing game of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, except there is no Bacon at the end of my connections list, just another film. For instance, I just recently caught up with the 1984 Michael Pare flick The Philadelphia Experiment. For one it was playing on Netflix streaming, and two, I had watched Robocop a couple times in the past few months and I’d wanted to see another movie with Nancy Allen. I was sort of astonished at how horrible Pare and Allen come off in that flick and I really needed to scrub that experience off my brain, so I absolutely had to re-watch Streets of Fire (Pare’s best and one of my personal favorite flicks.) That of course put me in a Walter Hill mood, and so I decided to dip into his back catalog for a film I’d yet to see. Enter The Driver. Well, as I mentioned last week, that didn’t go over all that well (damn you Drive!) Regardless, the next logic step was catching up with another flick that’s been on my to-see list for a while, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. See, that 1982 Lou Adler punk flick stars a very young Diane Lane and Laura Dern. Since I’d just watched Lane in Streets of Fire and Dern’s father in The Driver, it just seemed like the next natural film to take in.
Well, I adored The Fabulous Stains, and surprisingly it wasn’t just for Dern and Lane. There was a third girl in that band, an actress I’d never seen before, Marin Kanter (she plays Lane’s sister and Stain’s guitar player Tracy Burns.) I can’t put my finger on what exactly it was about her performance, but it stuck with me and I kept going back to it afterwards. As far as the rest of the film goes, it might have been a bit light on the true Punk that I was hoping for (even with the “super group” The Looters with Steve Jones & Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols and Paul Simonon of the Clash), but there was a lot to love in this flick. There’s a lot of homages in the flick, from Joan Jet and the Runaways and Patti Smith to the Go Gos and even the fledgling MTV network, and the music is pretty darn good. I could also see a clear legacy leading up to the Riot Grrl era of the 90s and you can really see that the flick is the fore-bearer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs front-woman Karen O. The icing on the cake? There’s a very early appearance by E. G. Daily (a surprise connection to Streets of Fire for sure.)
So I thought it would be fun to chart for you guys the next two flicks that have all of a sudden jumped to the top of my to-watch list. See Kanter has a pretty limited filmography. In fact it consists of just five films, a couple of which I’ll probably pass on (one is a TV movie called Skokie that I’m pretty sure I can skip, and the other is the 1990 Robert Downey Jr. flick Too Much Sun which is extremely out of print.) That leaves two flicks, both released in 1982 (along with the very limited release of Stains), the Willem Dafoe biker movie The Loveless (did I mention he was in Streets of Fire?) and the Robert Urich Sci-Fi flick Endangered Species. Again, I can’t quite explain what it was about Kantor, but I’m dying to see her in some other flicks. After those, who knows? I’m sure there are plenty of places that Robert Urich and Willem Dafoe can take me. I never did see The Last Temptation of Christ.
So, how do you pick that next flick? Also, what the hell ever happened to Marin Kanter?!?