Wednesday, June 30, 2010
ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980), ANNIE HALL (1977)
The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die blogger walks into the door of his new psychiatrist’s office.
Dr. Berger: (already seated) Welcome. Please make yourself comfortable.
Blogger: (Sitting) Thank you. I don’t really know why I’m here. Hey, did you know you look exactly like Judd Hirsch?
Dr. Berger: I get that all the time. Anyway, you must be here for some reason.
Blogger: I’ve been watching these movies you see. Some of the greatest movies of all time. So everything should be great, right? But the problem is, I’ve seen so many good ones that I think I might be losing my perspective about what good is. It’s a hard thing to define anyway, but I’m in a funk. My mind is racing into different places…I…I-
Dr. Berger: Whoa! Calm down. What are you trying to get out of these movies, anyway?
Blogger: Just an excuse to watch them really. They aren't all great. Grease is on the list for example, but I’ve gotten something out of most of the others.
Dr. Berger: All right. What was the last thing you watched?
Blogger: I watched some Godard movies last week. Really weirded me out. I watched Annie Hall last night. Of course, I’ve seen it a dozen times over the years. What did seeing it again really prove?
Dr. Berger: I’ve never seen that one.
Blogger: You’ve never seen Annie Hall? It did win Best Picture the year it came out.
Dr. Berger: I thought Star Wars won Best Picture that year.
Blogger: Oh,no. I’m not getting into that debate again...
Dr. Berger: If the truth be told, I’ve never seen Star Wars either. Not much of a Sci-Fi fan except for Independence Day.
Blogger: Independence Day? Well, it is in the book. But don’t you think it was a bit over the top? Wait a second! Hirsch was in that. Are you sure you aren’t Judd Hirsch?
Dr. Berger: Just because I look like him doesn’t mean I can’t like a movie he happened to be in and appreciate a top notch supporting performance. Anyway, we’re off topic. How often do you have sex?
Blogger: All the time. Maybe three times a week. But how is that relevant?
Dr. Berger: I’m the doctor here, I’ll worry about interpretation. You just supply the facts. I haven’t even begun to ask you about the dream part, Max.
Blogger: Don’t call me Max!
Dr. Berger: You look like a Max.
Blogger: Well you look like Judd Hirsch!
Dr. Berger: Okay, fair enough. If you were a tree, what kind would you be?
Dr. Berger: Skip that. Anyway, you watched Annie Hall. It won best picture. One of your favorites. Are all best picture winners in this book?
Blogger: No, not some of the lesser ones. It does have Ordinary People in it. Can you imagine that Ordinary People beat out Raging Bull for best picture the year it came out?
Dr. Berger: Are you kidding? I love Ordinary People! True human emotions have rarely been brought to the screen so convincingly before. You think that compares with Joe Pesci’s mugging for the camera?
Blogger: Joe Pesci can be pretty strong in some roles.
Dr. Berger: Yeah, in the one role he can do: Obnoxious hood the audience can’t wait to see get knocked off.
Blogger: I sense a little jealousy there perhaps. Joe was an Oscar winner. But Timothy Hutton was the one that won best supporting actor for Ordinary People.
Dr. Berger: And he was good, but that was a lead role. They should give supporting actor awards to supporting actors.
Blogger: Like the guy who played the psychiatrist.
Dr. Berger: I know what you’re thinking. But I’m really just calling them like I see them. Anyway, how many times do you have sex a week?
Blogger: Oh, hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Dr. Berger: I just don’t see what you have to complain about.
Blogger: It boils down to my thinking there are two kinds of people and they are divided up into the horrible and the miserable.
Dr. Berger: Is that really how you feel?
Blogger: Why, no. It’s a Woody Allen line from Annie Hall. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. Truth and reality are becoming blurred.
Dr. Berger: Nonsense. Just get a grip
Blogger: Get a grip? Is that all you have to say? What kind of shrink are you?
Dr. Berger: Calm down now. I’m going to put on some music for you to relax.
(The doctor gets out an LP and puts it on the phonograph)
Blogger: Ah, Pachelbel, Canon in D. I should have guessed. You know I just finished reading Death in Venice. Have you read it? Next, I’m reading Death Comes for the Archbishop. Are you listening?
Dr. Berger: (Distracted by the music) Oh, what?
Blogger: Speaking of Ordinary People, my favorite character actor from the 80’s, M. Emmett Walsh, plays Timothy Hutton's swim coach. And in the movie Back to School, he also plays a swimming coach. Isn’t that wild? You know that fact is hard to work into conversation.
Dr. Berger:Uh, huh.
Blogger: Uh, huh. I know that means something in shrinkspeak. Are you formulating an idea that will ultimately render me into some cultural or intellectual stereotype?
Dr. Berger: Nope.
Blogger: I thought you guys reduced everything into psychoanalytic categories.
Dr. Berger: Not really.
Blogger: Well, you aren’t talking much all of a sudden. Well, la-di-da. Let me expound upon my theory of life. It is divided into the horrible and the miserable…Wait, haven’t I already said that?
Dr. Berger: Yes, I think there has to be an adjustment in your movie viewing, but for the moment I do have something you need to try.
Blogger: I hope drugs are involved.
Dr. Berger: No, you’ve lost your perspective on what is good and what is bad. I’m prescribing that you intentionally watch a bad movie.
Blogger: You mean you want me to watch something like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Monster A-Go-Go or The Wasp Woman?
Dr. Berger: No, nothing you might get any secret pleasure from. Here is the movie I want you to watch.
(Dr. Berger writes a name on his prescripion pad and hands it to the blogger.)
Blogger: Paul Blart, Mall Cop! Granted, I agree I need to be pushed. But this is just torture. I could have your license for this!
Dr. Berger: You are just going to have to trust me. I’ve dealt with this kind of thing before. I feel we’ve had a real breakthrough here. Our time is about up now. I’ve got to get to my other job.
Blogger: Other job? Let me guess, you drive a cab?
Dr. Berger: How did you know?
Blogger: Just a guess.
Dr. Berger: Anyway, I think with all the progress we’ve made here, well, it warrants a hug.
Blogger: You’re making me watch Paul Blart, Mall Cop. I don’t feel like hugging you.
Dr. Berger: Suit yourself. Watch it and we’ll talk next week. (Dr. Berger leaves)
The 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die blogger walks out of the door of his psychiatrist’s office shaking his head.