Wednesday 25 April 2012


"What exactly does third base feel like?"

I think the original 'American Pie' was a bit of a masterpiece. I know we're not meant to label teen comedies as masterpieces - but I love it, I think it's a fantastic movie. And yes, I'm biased. I feel personally attached to it. I guess it's an age thing; it's generational. I was the perfect age to be affected by this movie when it first came out. 

So much of 'American Pie' became iconic; Jim dancing for Nadia. Stifler drinking the beer. Jim's Dad. Finch shitting in the women's toilets. The phrase 'MILF'. The pie fucking.

That's why the 6.9 on the IMDB scale is a false number, because it has been more influential than half of the films that score 8 and above. 'American Pie' was an important film. It's easy to disregard teen comedies, but this one had something special about it.

They set the tone from the first scene. Jim, a porn channel with bad reception, and a sock. Yet all the films that ripped off 'Pie' in the years that proceeded it missed the point, just like the blockbusters that came after 'Jaws' missed the mark ---- the film had 

Yes, it's a film about four guys trying to get laid. And yes, it's crude. Yet somehow, we love them. Quite remarkable, considering the awful things they do. If I filmed a girl undressing in my bedroom and then broadcast it without her permission to hundreds of people, it would be unacceptable, disgusting, probably even land me in jail. In the film it's charming, and oddly -- we feel for Jim. We feel his desperation, his loserness. When you're a teenager, you don't have a clue what you're doing. You try and fit in, try and get laid, and try to impress your friends.

On the surface it's a film about boys trying to get girls into bed, but really it's a film about guys figuring out how women work, coming to terms with what love is. That's the best thing about American Pie, its sincerity.

Watching it again reminded me of how much I loved it. I know every line of dialogue. I've probably seen this film twenty five times. I realised how some of the dialogue and funny lines are things I say in real life; they've become embedded in me. I'd forgotten where they came from. Isn't it amazing how movies do that? They become part of your DNA.

I've got to confess that so many of my favourite movies are my favourites simply because: they're a blast! They're so much fun. This is the perfect example of that. I've always been the type of guy who loves the first twenty minutes of movies, and then gets pissed off when all the conflict and plot stuff comes along. Sometimes I just wanna get the feeling of hanging out with great people. I love it when movies allow for that. That's exactly what this film did. And luckily it had all the other elements too.

Care to share?

Tuesday 24 April 2012


"Sure it may be a cash in, but I want to see the Ghostbusters again. I want to see Woody and Buzz argue. We fall in love with characters and they inform our childhoods, our teenage years, and we always long for them. "They don't make them like they used to," we say. We think we miss the stories but most of the time we miss the people."
-KITFR on 'Scream 4'. 

This week, I'm focusing exclusively on the 'American Pie' franchise. Why? I'm a fan. When I heard they were doing a new movie, I was immediately excited. 
This is difficult for me, because I've always had a troubled relationship with sequels, remakes, and reboots. Generally; I disagree with them on principle. But what is that principle? I don't really know. 

And it's not like I feel that strongly about it. As I
explored a few years ago, the inner-grumpiness I often feel when remakes are announced, disappears as soon as I'm sitting down and watching the new movie. I enjoyed the new Karate Kid film. And then there was 'Scream 4', which I thought was amazing. But it's a different kind of amazing. More than anything, sometimes it's just great to see faces you know, people you grew up with. It's nice to know what they're doing ten years later.

That was the appeal when I heard there'd be a new American Pie film. The thought of seeing Jim, Oz, Michelle and Nadia again was exciting! After three movies (let's not even discuss the straight to DVD movies that came after 'The Wedding') it was, rightly, time to call it a day. The joke had run out, we were tired of Stifler, and Jim's Dad had given just about all the advice he could give. 

But time is an interesting thing. Going to see a new American Pie film is much like adding an old school friend on Facebook. You're unsure whether you should, but you can't help but be curious and hope a little of the old magic will still be there. 

So, yeah. I'm a fan. I decided to watch the first three movies again and write about my thoughts. And then I'll tell you what I think of the new one.

American Pie week will run from April 24th - April 30th here on Kid In The Front Row. 

Care to share?

Friday 20 April 2012


Bruce Springsteen. Van Morrison. Talking about my favourite musicians is easy. When it comes to films, especially in this day and age, it's harder. Because the writer's voices get diluted, the directors visions get fragmented into the wishes of twenty people. Finding singular voices is hard. But in an industry of compromised auteurs and pay-cheque hacks, Edward Burns stands strong. I LOVE his movies. They're not for everybody, in fact they're hardly seen by anybody -- but he has his niche. We are in an era where you can build a career around your niche.

This film is about that precise moment in your life when you have to make a decision --- follow your dreams, or compromise. On the one hand, Johnny (Matt Bush) can continue his job as a late night sports show presenter on the radio, or on the other hand he can go to New York and take the job with his fiancee's father. The job is depressing, but he'd earn $50,000 and keep his wife-to-be happy. And Claire (Anna Wood) terrifies me, because she's the girl I fear I'll end up with. The one who would say "Take the job at the cardboard factory, I only want you to do it because I love you!". Aghhh; it scares the hell out of me. That's why I'm so useless at relationships, cause I'm terrified they'll erode my creativity, make me turn into something else.

Turning into something else is the easy route, the path of least resistance. That's why the film rings so true. The hardest thing in the world for Johnny is to stand up and say "I'm a radio DJ! I earn no money but THIS IS MY DREAM!". He can't do it. Instead; the whole film is about him faltering under the pressure of people who think his dream should be something else; they think it should be the cardboard job and a huge pay-cheque.

Uncle Terry (Edward Burns) is flawed, he's not perfect. But he's a guy who can see his nephew Johnny is having the soul ripped out of him. Edward Burns is a great actor; especially when he's in his own films; every friggin' moment rings true. That's the thing with all the characters in this movie. I feel like I know them, I want to hang out with them, maybe I even want to be them. That's what a great movie is -- when you look up at the screen and think yes, that is me. That's fucking me! There I am! That's my journey, that's my struggle!

It's about the actors. That's not always true in Hollywood, because often the concept is king. But in 'Nice Guy Johnny', it's the actors domain. Whenever I see Matt Bush and Kerry Bishé on screen, I feel like I know them. That's a weird thing to say, because I've only seen Kerry in three movies (the others being 'Red State', and another Ed Burns film, 'Newlyweds'). In 'Newlyweds', she's a messed up bitch; has all sorts of issues. In 'Nice Guy Johnny', she's loveable, she's intriguing. But not in a boring way like most movies; but in a complicated way. The same thing with Matt's character --- sure, he's a nice guy to a fault, but you get to see how complicated that is!

My point is that Edward Burns, Matt Bush, Kerry Bishé, they're real actors. They can nail a character, yet you also get a sense of their humanity - who they really are. That's what you get when you see an Edward Burns movie. They're down to earth, they're honest, they're New York. These films will never take over the mainstream, because that's not where the audience is at anymore. But there is an audience for it; a real fan base, and they're hooked.

Care to share?

The Special Relationship

We have a special relationship.

How do you mean?


Which means what?

You should cast me in your movies.

Oh okay.

You don't think so?

What is special about it?

We have a connection, like, a special understanding.

So I should cast you in my movies?


And what will you do for me?

Act in them.

That's very nice of you.

But it is a special relationship. Don't forget I introduced you to that guy at the BBC.

So what?

So you should put me in your movies.

There are also many other actors.

But they don't understand you like I do.

Back in the old days; women used to sleep with directors to get a role, now all we get is an insincere compliment.

That's really hurtful. Don't you believe me?

As an actor? It's a little forced, if I'm honest.

How can you say something like that to me?

I can say anything I want.


Because we have a special relationship.

Care to share?

Thursday 19 April 2012


All we have is our memories. They're all we can really base anything on. I guess we have the current moment, and that's pretty cool. But you can't help but be shaped by what came before. So what if you really could erase it; wipe out someone you used to love? I think what makes it an appealing thing is not so much removing someone's face from your memory, it's removing all the marks they left. All the crap that comes up every time you meet someone new. Know what I mean?

'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' is one of the greatest films ever. I am saying that now, at this moment, only minutes after watching the film again. If calling it 'one of the greatest films ever' is ridiculous, then it's ridiculous and so be it. But right now,
in this moment, I'm in love with it. I have not had an experience like this with a film in quite a long time.

The film is about memories. It's funny because -- I'm not sure how well I know this film. I'm not sure how many times I've seen it and how much I enjoyed it in the past. Watching it just now was great, because it was a very fresh experience.

There's genius in this film in so many ways. Charlie Kaufman's script is mind-blowing. How did he write this? When you add films like 'Adaptation' and 'Being John Malkovich' to the list, it's incredible. Kaufman seems to have access to his whole brain -- he knows how to utilise it. 'Eternal Sunshine..' is so powerful for exactly that reason -- we feel like we're going through a journey in our own brains.

You have to credit the director, Michel Gondry, and the director of photography Ellen Kuras. In a remarkably accurate way they have brought to life the inner workings of the mind --- the dreams, the nightmares, the memories. It's so haunting,
so real.

And then there's Kate and Carrey. What can you say about them? I don't know if I realised the first time I saw this movie -- but Jim Carrey's performance is perfect. But not perfect in any way you could teach. I don't think you could extract it and bottle it and learn from it. You just have to watch him and be in awe of it -- because he's just amazing. From the first moment, you're sold. Kate Winslet is probably just as good, but you can't help but be a little conscious of the fact it's Kate Winslet with weird coloured hair in the opening scenes. It takes a while to adjust.

The thing about movie stars is that it's very hard to detach from who they really are when you see them on screen. Or more accurately, it's hard to detach from what we project onto them, how we view them. But in the opening scenes, Carrey and Winslet are so REAL. They're like me and you. Just a man and a woman. They're vulnerable, awkward, and you just
feel it. These are two performances that really earned their salaries. This is why we love the cinema and movie stars. Sometimes they really can reach these levels.

And then there's the editing, by Valdís Óskarsdóttir. It's seamless. The thing that's so difficult about mind-fuck films like this one, is that it's so easy to get lost -- to be jolted into confusion. In 'Eternal Sunshine..', the moments where we do get confused are intentional, and get resolved later on. There's an art to what Óskarsdóttir achieved. There are times in the second half of the movie when we're being taken on a journey through Joel's (Carrey) subconscious mind -- as he dashes in and out of numerous memories, yet at the same times we cut back into the Clementine/Patrick storyline (Winslet/Wood), and the Dr. Mierzwiak/Mary storyline (Wilkinson/Dunst) and it's miraculous that it all makes sense. That's the power of great editing. If you compare it to films like 'Donnie Darko' and 'Vanilla Sky', I think there's a level of brilliance to this film that those ones lack. And it comes down to how all the elements mentioned in this article were handled. 

The film had a strange effect on me tonight. It got me thinking about my memories. How many of them are rigid and built to last? Maybe not that many. In fact, some stories I could recount perfectly two years ago, now somehow sink into insignificance. It's weird what time does. The erasing of former lovers is something that, weirdly, kind of happens in real life too. The pain goes away, the specifics evaporate. We get left with the feelings. Sometimes they're beautiful and poignant, other times they leave us bitter and resentful. So what to do with all of these memories? 

I know precisely what I want to do with them: I want to create a lot more of them. 

Care to share?