Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My Two Favorite Movies

When I was a teenager, my favorite movie was Harold and Maude. It's a perfect movie for adolescents, because it depicts hopelessness and hope with equal accuracy. Or to put it another way, if Harold can finally decide not to kill himself then I can too.

I haven't watched H&M for a few years now, and I'm starting to think that my new favorite movie is Performance. The two films have a lot in common. Most significantly, they date from the same era, the late 1960s (yes, I was born 20 years too late.) Performance was filmed in 1968 and released in 1970. Harold and Maude was released in 1971 but the screenplay was probably written some time earlier. They are both very rebellious films, I would say . . . "unconventional," perhaps, although that's an understatement.

Another thing the two films have in common is the high quality of the music. H&M is almost all Cat Stevens--I've heard that he wrote a couple songs especially for the film. Performance features Mick Jagger prominently in the supporting cast. He only performs two songs (as I recall), but all the rest of the music, I would say, even when not by him is the sort of music you would expect in the sort of film that would cast Mick Jagger. I like it, anyway.

Performance is a much more adult film. There are no easy answers. There is quite a bit of sex and violence. The protagonist is an anti-hero, in the sense of not being someone you (or I) would really want to emulate. He thinks he can handle anything, but he gets in over his head. I think that's why I've come to like this movie--because life will do that to anyone.

Neither film has a traditional happy ending, although of the two Harold and Maude is slightly more optimistic. And yet the ending of Performance doesn't bother me--and I am someone who usually insists on a happy ending. It's a very low-key ending. It just fits. I suppose there is one easy answer, after all.

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