Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Listing

Two lists, for your enjoyment and scrutiny.

List the First: The Top Ten Scream Queens list at The Film Experience, featuring the ten greatest performances by actresses in the horror genre (...and Requiem for a Dream) (...and 3/4 of the Alien quadrology). Did Emma Caulfield in Darkness Falls make it, you ask? You'll have to read it to find out!

Next up, yet another AV Club random list of ramdomness, this time running down 16 films featuring what they're calling "Manic Pixie Dream Girls." That character type is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, and if I tell you that the first entry is on Kirsten Dunst's character in Elizabethtown, you'll know exactly what they're talking about. Sixteen of the freest of free spirits who ever broadened the horizons of a buttoned-up dude who's lost the joy in life.

Some of the selections are obvious (Charlize Theron in Sweet November! I had forgotten all about that! Blissfully!) and some are more provocative (Diane Keaton in Annie Hall?), but the one I immediately responded to, no surprise, was Kate Hudson in Almost Famous. My favorite movie of ever and the reason I haven't given up on Kate Hudson, no matter how much crapola she makes these days. Anyway, my initial reaction was that Penny Lane was really NOT a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, mostly because she has an agency and motivation of her own. So much of Almost Famous is following Penny's story, albeit from a distance, and crossing your fingers that she's going to stand on her own two feet and twirl her way out of the orbit of those who would take her for granted.

The problem is, Penny's agency and motivation pretty much is...to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She calls herself a muse, but...same thing, really. She does the whole in-flight announcement thing, she calls Russell her "project," she talks about going to Morocco for one year. She plays this role not just for Russell and for William but also for the other groupies (she used to run a school for Band Aids, after all). But since so much of the movie is about her taking on that role, about the burdens of it and the consequences of it and what it does (or doesn't) do for her...brushing her off as a Manic Pixie seems to miss the point, doesn't it?

Anyway, it's a great list, all things considered, and it posted a clip of my very favorite scene from Almost Famous, which I am happily re-posting here, because it always makes me smile, and I could use some smiling today.

15 comments:

JA said...

Hey now, even Darren Aronofsky classifies Requiem as a horror film.

As for "manic pixies", that list is EMPTY without Juliette Lewis in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and Johnny Depp in Benny & Joon.

Joe Reid said...

Yeah, if that list included guys at all, I would think Benny & Joon would be right up at the top. Juliette Lewis in Gilbert Grape is a great call, though.

JA said...

I question your assertion that Johnny Depp was supposed to be a dude in Benny & Joon - I thought that movie was supposed to be Mary Stuart Masterson's apology for scrubbing the lesbian right out of Fried Green Tomatoes.

WEHT Masterson anyway? Why hasn't she shown up on Weeds?

Stephanie said...

Thanks for posting that clip. I rewatched Almost Famous again this weekend for probably the 20th time and Patrick Fugit's "Ask me again" in that scene makes me smile every time. I totally agree that Penny Lane isn't one of the 'manic pixie' girls. That's sort of the point of her character - that she's a person with feelings, not just a groupie.

Hey, how about doing a Rewatchable entry on that movie, Joe?

Joe Reid said...

JA: I actually watched Fried Green Tomatoes on TV the other day for the first time in forever. Apart from noting that a slimmer Kathy Bates makes me nervous, I was struck by how hard they stressed MSM's butchness, to the point where I wonder why they even bothered covering up the overt lesbian stuff in the first place. She wore a shirt and tie, people! That was the 1950s equivalent of a mullet and a wifebeater, was it not?

And if MLP is going to start inviting co-stars to show up on Weeds, the line starts with Patrick Wilson, continues with Drew Barrymore and Whoopi Goldberg, and keeps going behind the undead corpse of Brad Renfro,

Stephanie: You know that "ask me again" line was Patrick actually asking Kate to run the line again? I'm pretty sure I got that from the commentary on the bootleg edition.

Also, a Rewatchables on Almost Famous is a near certainty; just a matter of when.

"Lady" Bea said...

God, I love "Almost Famous." That movie got SUCH a backlash, I never understood it. And Kate Hudson is SO cute in it. And Frances McDormand KILLS me. And also sounds a lot like my own mother. Heh.

shalmelo said...

How is it possible to not include Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on that list? That was the first character that sprung to mind, and I was stunned that she wasn't included. For shame, AV club, for shame...

Joe Reid said...

There was a lot of talk of Winslet in the comments on the AV Club, but I'm not really down with it. Clementine started off like a Manic Pixie, perhaps, but she certainly progressed far beyond wish-fulfillment. And in the end, did she really help Joel become a different person? In the end, Joel and Clem are still pretty much a reticent guy and a fucked-up girl who know they're ultimately wrong for each other -- the beauty is that they go for it anyway. Again. God, I love that movie. Need to watch it again.

JA said...

"Too many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive. But I'm just a fucked-up girl who's lookin' for my own peace of mind; don't assign me yours."

Joe Reid said...

What he said.

Stephanie said...

I did know that about the "Ask me again" line from the bootleg edition commentary (how awesome is Cameron Crowe's Mom, btw). I think that's why I like it - Patrick Fugit is clearly head over heels for the girl in the movie and in real life. He just wants to keep doing the scene over and over again.

Yeah to a Rewatchable!

notanillusion said...

I am so in love with Kate Hudson in that scene, I would have fallen at her feet, I swear. Deelish. What a great movie. :)

jessica said...

I always go to the "Tiny Dancer" scene in that movie, which may be awfully mainstream of me but I love it anyway, and it usually accompanies a segue to the "Free Fallin'" scene in Jerry Maguire and how Cameron Crowe can say SO MUCH with a singalong.

I swear, I could write a thesis on just that: "Cameron Crowe's Use of Music as a Film Narrative Device."

deirdre said...

My biggest objection to the MPDG list is the inclusion of Fran Kubelik. She may not be as fully realized a character as C.C. Baxter, but she sure as hell has an inner life and she's not a "sentient ray of sunshine" in any sense. (I'll give them Irma La Douce, though.)

shalmelo said...

You know, after looking at your comments and re-reading the AV club's description of the list - you guys are totally right. I assumed Winslet's character should be there based on the title of the list, but without reading the full premise. The exclusion of that character makes much more sense in that light.