Category: film

Yesterday, I found myself trapped in a haze of ADD and it was all because it snowed.

Our Neighborhood on Friday morning (picture taken by Erin Nicole Bowman)

Since, of course, I live in Texas, my response to this was to say, “What’s snow?”  Well, apparently, it’s very white, it’s very cold, and it forces you to stay inside, watching Lifetime movies and old DVDs while posting too much information on twitter and generally trying to see how much you can annoy your older sister until she asks you if you’re interested in playing “the quiet game” for a little while.

(Incidentally, I don’t know about your older sister but mine turned out to be remarkably tolerant and I’m proud of her.)

It also keeps you from going to work and I know some people claim that’s a great thing but for me, it was really, really difficult.  In fact, if not for the fact that my boss specifically called me to tell me not to bother to come in because he wasn’t going to come in, I would have braved the ice and snow just so I could spend some quality time answering the phoner and saying, “I’m afraid he’s not going to be able to meet with you today.”  Scoff if you will but I would have happily done it and I regret not being able to do it because not going to work threw me off my routine and I spent most of yesterday in an ADD haze.

Like a lot of things, though, an ADD haze is only a bad thing in retrospect.  While it’s occurring, it’s actually kinda fun.  For instance, I spent a few hours reading three books at one time while an old Dracula film (Hammer’s Dracula A.D. 1972 to be precise) played on the TV and Siouxsie and the Banshees played on my laptop and the microwave zapped up one of those “super pretzels” that I love so much.  Now you could argue that by doing 20 things at once, I end up truly experiencing not a single one of them but, to be honest, it’s so exhilarating at the time.  It makes me love ADD.

Unfortunately, the exhilaration of ADD is always followed by the times when the entire world just seems overwhelming and all the thoughts in your mind start to you weigh down, making you feel like you’re trying to run through quicksand.

Things like going to my job, watching a movie, spending Friday night with a certain someone, blogging, spending a few hours a night on twitter, or watching some silly reality TV show — these are the things that I use to pull myself out of that quicksand.  These are the things that I look at and say, “As long as I keep these things consistent, than I can force some sort of rhyme and reason on the chaotic mess that is my mind.”

The snow, as much as I loved it, took away all of my rhyme and reason for the day.  Luckily, that afore-mentioned special someone was able to make his way to the house after he got off from his job and that helped to put me back on track.

But until he arrived, I found myself spending what seemed like an eternity watching the icicles outside of the den door get bigger and bigger and bigger.  Seriously, I was scared to even let our cat near the door for fear that this one icicle would come to life and try to attack us.  Here’s two pictures of it, courtesy of my sister Erin:

I mean, seriously — that thing was scary!

Well, today, the sun is out, the temperature is above freezing for the first time since last Monday, and the snow is slowly melting.  And I know I should probably be happy but I’m sad to see it go.  I’m a Texan and as much as it disrupted my routine, I know there’s a good chance I’ll never see this much snow again for the rest of my life.

But that’s life.

You’ve got the celebrate what you have when you’ve got it and be prepared to accept that everything goes away in the end.

Groped At The Movies

Yes, that’s right. Earlier today, I got felt up by a stranger at the movies. Now, admitedly, this not the first time that I’ve gotten groped at the movies and I’ll even admit that this is not the first time that I’ve been groped in a dark theater by someone I didn’t really know. The difference here is that, unlike those times in the past, I had no say in the matter.

I went to a dollar theater earlier today to see the movie Red. I went alone, which is unusual for me but I’m off work this week and I was bored so I decided to go see a cheap movie in the afternoon. The movie started at 2:30 so, as usual, I showed up at 2:10, bought my ticket, and got into the theater a good five minutes before the movie was scheduled to begin.

Well, even though I arrived early, the theater was packed with people. I was shocked to see how many people were packed into that theater and, as I’m a bit claustrophobic, I nearly turned around and left.

But then I spotted two empty seats at the very back of the theater, apparently the only two empty seats left. They weren’t a part of an aisle, instead they were just two separate seats that sat at the very back of the theater, one located next to the entrance and one agaisnt the wall. I settled into the seat against the wall and the lights slowly went down until the theater was dark.

As always happens, people continued to step into the theater even after the movie began. One of them grabbed the last empty seat. The rest would simply come in, stand at the back of theater, loudly discuss if there were any empty seats, and then debate what they were going to do. A few ended up standing in the back of the theater while the majority left.

And one dark shadow, spotting the previously empty seat next to the door, decided to search the dark for any more empty ones. Out of the corner of my eyes, I watched this shadow as it slowly approached my seat, vainly moving his hands behind him as he searched for seats that were not there.

(I say “he” just because the shadow was tall and heavy-set and it moved with a determinedly masculine gait.)

As the shadow grew closer, I whispered (because the movie had started), “I’m sorry, there aren’t any seats here.”

Yet the shadow continued his approach, still fumbling in the dark, and I thought to myself, Damn, he didn’t hear me. If I’m in a room full of people (especially a room full of strangers), I get shy and my voice get much softer. It takes more effort for me to form my words, largely because I’m scared I’ll slip up and my stammer will come out and then some stranger will delight in repeating my words back to me with an exagerrated stutter.

So, it’s probable he did not hear me the first time I spoke. And it’s just as likely that he didn’t hear me when, as I realized he was about to be standing directly in front of me, I repeated myself a second time.

As he reached me, I felt his searching hand brush against my shoulder. As I tried to shift over to the other side of my seat in order to avoid his touch, I started, “I’m sorry–”

I lost my words as his hand suddenly cupped my breast.

I wish I could say that this was a moment that I kicked ass. I wish I could say that, at this moment, I said something so witty and so clever and so brilliant that the man dissolved into a pathetic puddle of insecurity. I wish I could say that I screamed so loud that everyone else in the theater turned and stared before then jumping up and coming to my rescue. I wish I could say that my left leg immediately went up and, in a dazzling display of self-defence, I quickly turned this man into a eunuch.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, like many before me, I said, “Excuse me, there’s somebody here.” because I wanted to believe that this was all just a misunderstanding, an accident. I said that because I wanted to believe that the man was just making a mistake, that he was still just searching for his seat, that he would be red-faced with shame when he heard my voice.

And he could have been. I don’t know. All I know is that, without a word, the shadow removed his hand and then left the theater.

And I watched the movie, feeling numb and unsure as to what had just happened. At first, I just silently cured the man for being such a dumbass and I thought to myself, He could have at least apologized. I was so happy that the situation was over that I decided to forget about it and enjoyed the movie.

About 90 minutes into the movie, I realized that, as much as I kept telling myself that I wasn’t thinking about it, it was actually the only thing on my mind. I kept telling myself that it was just something that happened. I’m a D-cup and whenever I’m in a crowded space, I know that there’s a chance that someone’s going to brush up against them accidentally. It’s something that I usually joke about. It’s a fact of life and I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m not one of those large-breasted women who tries to hide her boobs or who acts all offended whenever she catches someone looking at them.

C’mon, Lisa, I told myself, it was just an accident.

Except it didn’t feel like an accident. I sat there and tried to convince myself that his hand hadn’t grabbed my breast, that it had instead just accidentally fallen on it. But if that was the case, why did his hand seem to linger? Why didn’t he immediately pull away? Or had he pulled away? Was I just imagining things now, letting my paranoid mind get the better of me? And, I wondered, why hadn’t he apologized? Why did he respond by just silently walking out of the theater? At first, I thought it was because he was embarressed but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how silly and niave that was on my part. That was wishful thinking. I wanted him to be embarressed because if he was embarressed, then it would just be an accident. Or was I just being paranoid again? These are the questions that haunted me in that theater and they’re the questions that are still haunting me hours later.

And, as I replayed the incident in my mind over and over again, I kept telling myself, “Just because something happened in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. Just because some men are bad , that doesn’t make all men bad.” That’s something that, if you’re like me, you tell yourself and you try to believe but that doubt and fear will always be in the back of your mind. That doubt and fear is the price too many women pay for being survivors.

After the movie ended, I sat there in my seat until the entire theater was empty. I sunk down low into my seat, trying not to be seen and wondering if any of the strangers passing in front of me was that dark shadow that groped me in the dark. When I did leave the theater, I walked very quickly to my car, my eyes darting back and forth in a fruitless search for any dark shadows waiting for me in the parking lot.

And now, as I sit here, I wonder: am I being paranoid or should I have sceamed and kicked? The incident itself is not what continues to gnaw at me.

It’s the doubt that fires up and makes you search for hidden evils behind every accident.

So now, the question becomes: what are you going to do? Me, I’m going to keep on living my life and doing the things — like going to the movies on a whim — that make me happy.

Because, in the end, what else can you do?

Well, Halloween is over and, with it, October 2010 is now a piece of history.  It’s hard to believe that it’s almost 2011.  It’s even harder for me to believe that, in a week and one day, I will be 25 years old.  Bleh and Agck!  That’s something I don’t want to think about.  When I was still young and innocent, I always used to think of anyone over the age of 25 as being so old.  I mean, 25 means adulthood.  Ideally, 25 means that you’re now a member of society as opposed to being a ward of society.

And I want nothing to do with it.

I was tempted to tell everyone to just ignore my birthday but, hopefully, they know better than that because as much as I hate the idea of getting older, I love the idea of presents.  Since I’ve ruled out the idea of ignoring my birthday, perhaps now would be a good time for me to just start obsessing on the past and remembering when I was still young and full of hope.

For instance, I may handle my birthday by telling everyone what a wonderful Halloween I had way back in October of 2010.  Yes, I can remember that Halloween as if it was yesterday.  I can remember my friend Jeff picking me up that night.  He was a doctor and I was a zombie.  Even today, I can still remember the party we went to and how so many old friends were happy to see us and embrace us and we all laughed and drank and danced and flirted as if we had all the time in the world.  Ah, those long-distant memories of yesterday.  If I think about it long enough, I swear my ears still feel like they’re recovering from spending too much time near the gigantic speakers that vibrated with an almost tribal quality as they broadcast the music that kept the party going late into the night. 

And how could I ever forget the moment during that magical night when I smiled as coyly as one can while made up as a corpse and I said, “How about a little necrophilia?”  Yes, I had been waiting five years for an excuse to use that line outside of a morgue or mortuary-setting and finally, on that night, the stars just came together and the moment was right.

(That line, by the way, is from a movie called Brazil, which is actually quite good.  Another thing I have in common with Brazil is that we were both released in 1985.)

Little did I know, back then, that there could only be one Halloween, 2010.  And now, older and wiser, I look back at it and I only wish I had appreciated it as much back then as I do now.

Halloween, 2010.

I can remember it like it was yesterday.

As I write this, I am tired, I am sore, my boobs hurt, and my right leg is determined to cramp up on me.  As I consider my current state, one question continues to repeat itself in my mind:

Don’t you hate it when a foolish new year’s resolution comes back to bite you in the ass?

For instance, I resolved — during the early hours of January 1st, 2010 — that I would start taking better care of myself this year.  No more staying up for 96 hours straight, no more taking pills just to see what they do, no more dealing with boredom with alcohol and anonymous internet flirtation.  No, I decided as I popped an unmarked white pill and stared at the screen of my laptop glowing in a strange man’s bedroom, from now on, I am going to live healthy!

And, to a large extent, I’ve managed to do just that.  I just wish somebody had prepared me ahead of time for just how boring it is to live healthy.

However, one thing that I am coming to slowly enjoy is running.

I’ve always suffered from pretty severe asthma, to the extent that I’m on a first name basis with just about every paramedic and ER nurse at Richardson Medical Center.  Earlier this year, I read that running can actually good for people with asthma and so, I decided that would now be my thing.  I decided I would be a runner.

One thing you should understand about me — when I decide I’m going to do something, I do it.  Even if I really don’t have the slightest idea how to do it, I still manage to do it.  Even if all evidence shows that I’m doing it completely incorrectly, I’m still going to do it.  Some people would call this stubbornness.  Me, I call it…well, okay, it’s true.  I’m stubborn.

So, since I moved to a safer and better neighborhood last July, I’ve been attempting to run on a regular basis.  When I get home from work, I’ll change into shorts, sports bra, and t-shirt, put on my running shoes, tie my hair back in a pony tail, and I’ll run from my house to a Target that’s located a few blocks away.  Then I’ll run back home and try not to pass out.

When I first started running, I literally thought the idea was to run.  I would literally step out of the house and just start running somewhere.  After the third asthma attack, it occurred to me that maybe it would be a good idea for me to pace myself as opposed to just seeing how quickly I could get from one location to another.  That seemed to work a lot better.

Running calms me down.  Everything you’ve  heard about how running can give you a chance to release every-day stress and clear your mind is true.  I always seem to do my best thinking while running.

It also does seem to be helping my asthma.  Honestly, this is a hard point to prove.  People who have heard me wheezing after I get back from a run tend to disagree with me on this.  However, as the person who actually has had to live with it for 24 years now, I can tell you — without a doubt — that I am actually breathing better now than I ever have in the past.

Admittedly, I’m still making up a lot of this as I go along.  Since I’ve started running, I’ve made it a point to watch other runners.  I noticed that a lot of them run in place while waiting to cross the street.  I decided I should probably do that too.  However, after the first two times, I just ended up feeling stupid so now I either just run across the street and hope no one’s coming or else I use the Don’t Walk sign as an excuse to rest for a few minutes.  I also noticed that many runners tends to stop and check their pulse so I’ve started trying to do that as well.  I guess I’m supposed to keep count or something but, to be honest, I’m usually just happy to discover that, after running in the Texas heat, that I still have a pulse.

There’s a few other disadvantages:

Since Texas weather often means a thunderstorm while the sun’s shining, it’s difficult to maintain a regular running schedule.

I broke my ankle in two places when I was 17 and I’ve always wondered if it actually healed correctly.  The way it sometimes throbs after I go running leads me to suspect that it did not.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that boys in pickup trucks will honk their horns and shout comments at any woman they see on the sidewalk, even if she is soaked with sweat and obviously having a hard time catching her breath. 

One reason I didn’t run when I was living in my old apartment is because I didn’t always feel safe out in that neighborhood.  My new neighborhood is definitely safer but that doesn’t mean I feel safe enough to totally let my guard down.

There’s several gyms and health club type places near my house.  A Gold’s Gym just opened up across the street from the Target that I run to.  Every time I go to the movies, I drive by one of those 24 hour Fitness places.  My sister Erin keeps telling me that I should check one of them out if I’m really serious about this whole exercise thing.

But, I don’t want a personal trainer.  I don’t want to have to deal with some pumped up guy who is going to tell me to “feel the  burn” or whatever it is those people say.  I don’t want someone who is going to say, “Today, let’s work on your abs,” because I know that I’ll misunderstand him and think he said, “Let’s work on your ass” and it’ll just be an awkward situation all around.  Those people annoy the Hell out of me, regardless of whether they’re working down the street from me or if they’re appearing in shows like The Biggest Loser or movies like Burn After Reading

(Though, as a sidenote, I do think that was one of Brad Pitt’s best performances.)

No, sorry.  I do not want to run with other people who are going to stop me so that they can spend an hour of my time pontificating about what I’m doing wrong or what the proper way is to do this or that. 

What those people will never understand is that I don’t care if I’m doing it correctly.

I just care that I’m having fun doing it.

And once I’m no longer enjoying it, I’ll no longer do it.

1) I love musicals.  I was in the drama club all through high school.  When I was in college, I was active in community theater.  I’ve never allowed the fact that I’m tone-deaf to prevent me from breaking out into a song.  Taking all that into account, I really should love Glee.  And yet, I don’t.  In fact, I hate it.  Whether it’s Matthew Morrison’s creepy smile or the way Glee pretends to be more quirky than it actually is, the show just annoys the Hell out of me. 

2) When it comes to selecting a favorite color, I’ve always been torn between red or green.  I finally settled on one of them about two nights ago but, for the life of me, I can’t remember which one.

3) I am a German-Spanish-Irish-Italian mutt with a little French thrown in for good measure.  I probably identify most with my Irish heritage even though I’m definitely closest to the Spanish-Italian side of my family.  A part of me wishes that my background was 100% Cajun. 

4) I have a degree in Art History so, of course, I’m currently working as a receptionist.

5) Along with being asthmatic, I suffer from heterochromia, i.e. my left eye is a lighter shade of green than my right.  Unlike asthma, heterochromia is actually kinda cool. 

6) I tend to talk a lot.  I mean a lot.  My sister Megan once said, “Lisa can tell the longest stories about nothing…”  At the time, it actually hurt my feelings but in retrospect, she’s right.  What people often fail to understand, though, is that the main reason I won’t shut up is because I’m actually very shy.  Rambling is my way of avoiding the dreaded awkward silence.

7) For close to a year now, I’ve been writing — off-and-on — a novel called Mizmoon.  It’s been one of the most frustrating and rewarding experiences of my life.  My plan is to have a rough draft completed by the end of 2010. 

8 ) If I had a time machine, I’d go back 11 years and tell my younger self to “wait” and enjoy being innocent for a few more years.  What’s sad is that I know my younger self would probably respond by telling me that I don’t understand how she (I) feels and that it’s her (my) life anyway. 

9) Often times, when I’m having trouble finding any inspiration for a more substantial blog post, I’ll handle the situation by writing down a few very random facts about me.

10) I’m not anti-marriage.  I just have serious doubts as to whether or not I could ever be a part of a succesful marriage.  I’m a romantic at heart but, at the same time, I hate the thought of one day waking up and realizing that I’ve sacrificed my own identity just to be “so-and-so’s wife.”  A friend of mine recently told me that “a succesful relationship is built on trust.”  I don’t know if I’ll ever be capable of trusting anyone that much.

11) I’ve often been accused of engaging in a bit too much TMI for my own good (especially when it comes to my twitter account) but there are certain things in my life that I don’t talk about even though I want to.  But I don’t because I know that if I do, people will no longer think of me as Lisa Marie.  Instead, they’ll simply see me as an object of pity or as a victim.  As much as I sometimes need to express my pain, I don’t want it to define me.

12) At the same time, I do find that it is sometimes to helpful to vent (or sometimes even cry out) on a site like twitter because 1) you can block anyone who acts like an asshole about it, 2) others can block or ignore you if they don’t want to hear about it (which makes me feel less guilty about my occasional emo moments), and 3) sometimes, if you’re lucky, someone will actually offer up either some good advice or come up with a response so perfectly absurd that it’ll snap me out of my angst.

13) Yes, I have in the past occasionally posted a risqué picture or two on twitpic, tweetphoto, and plixi.  And yes, I have occasionally had to deal with the total stranger who has taken it upon him or herself to tell me that I need to have more “respect” for myself or use better judgment.  But you know what?  It’s my body and I’m not ashamed of it.  Why is it that society continues to insist that a woman cannot be independent, intelligent, and/or liberated unless she’s also some sort of humorless, sexless celibate?

If I want to show off my body, I will.  Even more importantly, though, if I don’t feel like showing off my body, I won’t.  No matter how many DMs, YMs, and e-mails I get asking me when I’m going to post another “thong shot.”  The minute anything starts to feel like an obligation is the minute that I start to lose interest.

Someone once asked me how I’d feel if, some day in the distant future, I discovered that my daughter was posting racy pictures of herself on the Internet.  I didn’t have an answer for him then and I really don’t have an answer now.  I know it would upset me but I would also hope that if my daughter was doing that, she would be doing it because she wanted to and not because she felt like she had to.

14) Yes, I do want to be a mom someday.  If I have a girl, I’m going to name her Gloria Elena after my mom.

15) When I first started this post, I thought it was going to be a lot shorter and a lot less serious.  🙂

16) I am an obsessive list maker.  Not only do I continually make lists of everything I need to during the day but I tend to hold on to the lists even after the day has passed because the list, if nothing else, will at least help me remember the day.  Yes, I know this is probably an indication of a tendency towards hoarding.  However, I am capable of throwing aways my old lists … just as long as I’m given one last chance to read them before I do so.

17) Continuing on the obsessive compulsive theme, it’s very important to me that any numbers in my life be even numbers.  I can never, for instance, feel secure if I’m in a building that has an address that ends in an odd number.  That’s also why I’m going to end up listing 20 random facts about myself in this post.  (It’s also why, for my Lisa Marie’s Favorite Exploitation and Grindhouse Trailers series over at Through the Shattered Lens, I always include 6 trailers per post instead of 5.)

18) I used to love that Chanel commercial where Nicole Kidman was the actress having the romance with the — well, I forget what he was supposed to be but he was hot and that’s all that really mattered.  Except, for some reason, I always thought that Kidman’s character was supposed to be terminally ill and dying in the commercial.

19) I love old school Italian horror films, the gorier and more sordid the better.  Yet, in real life, I can’t stand the sight of blood.

20) Okay, one last random fact.  Hmmm…alright, I get about two to three hours of sleep a night and I like it that way.  Life fascinates me and I can’t experience it if I’m asleep.

I have been sick since last Wednesday.  Congested, feverish, and muddy-headed, that’s been me.

To put it simply, I do not enjoy being sick.  It requires rest and rest goes against my own hyper nature.  I think I’ve spent more consistent hours asleep in the past four days than I have in the entire year previously.  My good health cannot return soon enough.

Anyway, until my health does return, why not pass the time with a short film that me and my sister Erin put together about two months ago?

(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor.  However, I do see a doctor on a fairly regular basis and I am a certified hypochondriac.  And I did watch the first season of Grey’s Anatomy as well as every single season of Lost, which featured several medically trained characters.)

ADD: Six Dexedrine a day

Asthma: Inhaler, ProAir

Bipolar Disorder: Lithium (use at your own risk)

OCD: Clean, clean, clean

Panic Attacks: Count to 10, Close eyes tight

Back Pain: Advil, Upgrade to a D-cup

Ankle Pain: Darvocet

Hyperopia: Contact lenses, glasses, squinting

Hunger: Sweet-and-sour chicken

Lack of Appetite: Lay off the speed

Cold: A big old comforter with a colorful floral design, Absorbing body heat

Hot: Air conditioning, Less clothes, No clothes

Underweight: Binge, Don’t Purge

Overweight: Diet, Walk, Gym, Wear black, Stay home

Sleepy: 10 capsules of Dexedrine every 6 hours

Insomnia: Dramamine

Insecurity: Black thong panties, a camera, and the bathroom mirror

Vanity: Stand in front of bathroom mirror, hold a ruler up to your nose.

Happy: Fox News, MSNBC, CNN

Sad: Movies, Cats, Shopping (Half-Price Books, Fry’s, Clare’s, Hot Topic, Urban Outfitters, H&M, The Limited, Victoria’s Secret), Drinking, Flirtation, Leave before he wakes up

Dry: Sitting in a dark movie theater with a friend

Wet: Always bring an extra pair of panties

Calm: Run in circles

Tense: Massage, Brownies

Period: Midol, Aleve, Vicodin, Tampax Pearl, Profanity and tears (if early), Panic (if late)

Straight: Perm, Rainy day, Curling iron, Fall into bed

Curly: Desert wind, Conair SS9

Conservative: Get laid

Liberal: Get dumped.

Lack of Creativity: Theft

Excessive Creativity: Isolation

Blandness: Suicide (Yes, that does seem like a bit extreme of a cure.  It also provides a wonderful incentive not to be bland, don’t you think?)

If the above cures don’t help, don’t call me in the morning.  You’ll just bring us both down.

(Hi all! This post may look familiar to some people because I originally wrote it for and posted it on another site I write for, Through The Shattered Lens. Over on Through the Shattered Lens, I devote a good deal of time to defending so-called “exploitation” and “grindhouse” movies. This article was my attempt to explain my love of these films. I’m reprinting it here because 1) I like the way the article turned out and 2) I think the completed post is as good an explanation as any of not just my taste in movies but my entire worldview as well.)

“How could you have possibly enjoyed that movie?”

I hate that question. I hate the self-righteous tone of it. I hate the demand that I justify anything that I choose to do with my life. I hate the implication of the question, the suggestion that somehow there is some sort of moral force at the center of the universe that determines whether or not a movie can be enjoyed.

Unfortunately, no matter how obviously justified I am in loathing that question, it’s still one that I am frequently asked. How can I not only enjoy watching old school exploitation and grindhouse films (the majority of which were made before I was even born) but also devote a good deal of my time to not only watching these movies but tracking them down and then telling the rest of the world how much I love them?

(Of course, what they’re really asking is what are you doing watching exploitive trash like House On The Edge of the Park or Fight For Your Life when you should be out finding a husband, driving an SUV, and living a life of quiet desperation?)

First off, I should confess. I have commitment issues, I know it. I realize that, as a result of some personal experiences in the past, that I tend to beg for affection and attention even while I’m putting up my own invisible wall to keep anyone from getting too close. It’s not easy for me to trust but, after writing for Through The Shattered Lens since May, I feel like maybe it’s time to share a little bit more about me. Hi. My name is Lisa Marie. I’m 24. I have three older sisters that I love. I’m a proud to be an Irish-German-Spanish-Italian-American. I lived in four different states before I was 13 and I’m rarely amused when people point out the country twang in my voice. Up until I was 17, ballet was my life but then I fell down a flight of stairs, broke my ankle in two places, and that was the end of that. I worked very hard to earn a degree in Art History. Not surprisingly, my current job has nothing to do with art or history. I have asthma and heterochromia (my right eye is a darker shade of green than the left). I’m blind without my contacts. I like cats, driving fast, and being single. I dislike dogs, needy men, and those tiny little smart cars. In other words, I’m just your typical girl who loves the Grindhouse. The only thing that can equal my love for the Grindhouse is my hatred for the Mainstream.

Here’s a few reasons why.

1) Before Independent Film, there was the Grindhouse.

Today, if a young director wants to show what he’s capable of doing, he makes his own little film and enters it into various film festivals and, if he’s made something interesting, he might sign a distribution deal and his film might pop up down here in Dallas at the Angelika theater. In the 70s, that young director would make an exploitation film, hope that it had enough sleaze appeal to make back its budget by playing in a New York Grindhouse (or a Southern drive-in) and, if he had made something interesting, his cheap, exploitation film might eventually end up being released on DVD by Anchor Bay or Blue Underground. The best Grindhouse films were made by director who were eager to show what they were capable of doing. These movies were not made by multimillionaires with houses on both coasts of the country. Grindhouse movies were made by director who had to work to create something memorable, filmmakers who knew that they might never get another chance to put their vision on-screen.

2) The Mainstream Lies. The Grindhouse is honest.

Mainstream films are just that. They are films designed to appeal to the widest possible audience. A mainstream movie is not made for you. A Mainstream movie is made to appeal to the brain-dead suburbanites who can be easily recruited at the local mall to be a part of a test screening. A Mainstream movie is made to be inoffensive. A Mainstream movie is edited and re-edited to remove anything that could possibly negatively reflect on the bottom line.

Grindhouse movies, however, didn’t have time for that. Grindhouse movies were made to exploit the moment. As a result, there was no time to worry about appealing to everyone. There was no time to constantly edit until not a single rough edge remained. Grindhouse films are messy. Grindhouse films are not always pleasant. They don’t always have the perfect ending. In short, Grindhouse movies are like life itself.

In the end, safe and inoffensive mainstream movies are made to appeal to the who we wish we were. Grindhouse movies — sordid, sometimes uncomfortable, and always appealing to the audience’s most primal thoughts, fears , and desires — are made to appeal to who we actually are.

3) The Mainstream is bland. The Grindhouse is dangerous and unpredictable.

Where else but in a Grindhouse film could you hear a killer who speaks like a duck like in Lucio Fulci’s The New York Ripper? Because the Grindhouse was free of the need to try to fit in with what the mainstream decreed to be normal, the Grindhouse had the freedom to come up with some of the most brilliantly demented plots in the history of film. When was the last time that the plot of a Mainstream film really caught you off guard? I’m not talking about safe, inoffensive surprises like Avatar‘s 3-D effects. I’m talking about a plot where, halfway through, you look at your fellow viewer and you both say, “What the fuck was that!?” Anything can happen in the Grindhouse. As soon as things start to feel safe and a little boring, the Grindhouse has the ability to make things exciting again. The Mainstream, meanwhile, just asks you to get married.

4) The Mainstream always condescends. The Grindhouse occasionally empowers.

Here’s a story of two movies. In the mainstream Brave One, Jodie Foster gets a gun after she’s raped and her dog is stolen. (In typical mainstream fashion, the movie doesn’t seem to be sure which crime is supposed to be worse.) In the grindhouse Ms. 45, Zoe Tamerlis gets a gun after she’s raped twice in one day. In the Brave One, Foster passively sits on the New York subway and waits until she threatened with rape a second time before she kills the potential rapist. In Ms. 45, Tamerlis shoots every man she sees because she knows that every man she sees is a potential rapist. In The Brave One, Foster gets her revenge by remaining the victim. In Ms. 45, Tamerlis becomes the aggressor. Both Foster and Tamerlis act in self-defense but Foster is wracked with guilt because the mainstream cannot risk losing its audience. Tamerlis becomes stronger and more confident with each murder as, for the first time, she has found a way to control her own destiny. At the end of The Brave One, Foster is not only rescued by a man but she gets her dog back too. At the end of Ms. 45, Tamerlis goes on a shooting rampage at a Halloween party and is finally killed by another woman. The Brave One‘s tag line was “How many wrongs to make it right?” Ms. 45’s tagline: “She was used and abused and it will never happen again!”

I know this is probably going to be my most controversial argument. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that we should just go out and start randomly shooting men. But, I will say this — in Ms. 45, Zoe Tamerlis refuses to be a victim and she — and the film — refuses to let society off the hook. When I think about Ms. 45, it doesn’t inspire me to hate men (because, trust me, I don’t) and it certainly doesn’t inspire me to grab a gun and start shooting. It does, however, inspire me to not allow myself to fall into that never-ending cycle of victimhood.

I’m not attempting to argue that Grindhouse films are secretly feminist films. Grindhouse films are infamous for exploiting women. However, so does the mainstream. (Of the two films, The Brave One features nudity. Ms. 45 does not.) Both the Grindhouse and the mainstream obviously get off on victimizing women. However, in the Grindhouse, women were occasionally (though certainly not often) allowed to fight back with the same aggression and determination that the mainstream, for the most part, usually reserves just for men.

(If The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo had been released in the 70s, it would have played at the Grindhouse.)

5) Lastly, and most importantly, the Grindhouse is still our little secret.

Let’s just admit it — independent films are trendy. Contemporary independent films have, to a large extent, become the new mainstream. The earnest film students who had a Sundance hit are now going to Hollywood to make the next Benjamin Button. Sundance is just ShoWest with more facial hair. However, the old school grindhouse will never sell out because it no longer exists. It was destroyed by the morality police before it could sacrifice its soul. While an independent filmmaker is just a director who will eventually grow up and break your heart, the great Grindhouse films are frozen in time, too sordid to ever be corrupted. The Mainstream will never embrace the Grindhouse and for that reason, the Grindhouse will always be the ultimate statement of freedom.

Sometimes, Youtube can be a busy blogger’s best friend.

This video, which I came across earlier today on Youtube, is entitled The Game Changed.  It is a 5 minute compilation of film clips from the 1940s and 1950s.  These clips deal with the “role” of women in then-contemporary American society.

Actually, I say then-contemporary but the attitudes that I see in these clips aren’t all that different from the attitudes that I deal with on a daily basis.  Society just uses different words now to say the same thing.  In the end, the meaning of those words — i.e., assume your expected role and don’t you dare try to be anything different — remains the same.

The Trouble With Women

I’m currently working on a review of The Kids Are All Right, which I saw on Friday.  While I work to finish that, let’s consider another film about the role of women in then-contemporary American society.  This one is much shorter than the Kids Are All Right and a lot older.  This film is from the establishment-friendly 1950s and not surprisingly, it’s entitled The Trouble With Women

%d bloggers like this: