A Weird Movie to Watch with Your Mom—A week in Silver City watching DVDs from Decades Past
My mom is a 90’s/early 2000s indie-filmmaker distributor's dream. Out in a tiny town in New Mexico, she would go into video stores (back in the video store days) and buy indie movies on DVD because she liked an actor in it or had nice sentence blurbs from movie critics. When video stores were dying, she cleared out the sale sections.
She is also the type of movie-watcher who will watch movies she likes again and again and again, just have them on in the background. Obscure movies like The Big Blue, Dreaming of Joseph Lees, Breakin All the Rules and anything by Miyasaki are all movies she has seen enough that their soundscape is familiar background noise to me of staying with her.
If I want to make my mom really happy, I tell her I will watch a movie with her. Even ones she has seen before (especially ones she has seen before).
Arriving in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, I was shocked to see her entire DVD collection (and a few video cassettes although she like everyone else has no VCR) out of the bookcases and just out like this:
She had mentioned that the TV in her room had broken so she had asked the Mormon missionaries to come over and move the TV from her bedroom into the garage and the TV from the living room into her bedroom— if my mom wants to make Mormon missionaries happy she calls them and asks them to move something for her.
So, her working TV was now in her bedroom, where she has it on ALL THE TIME per usual.
But why were all of her movies out like this?
Her answers were rather cryptic. She had a small stash of movies back in her room in the otherwise empty bookcase (all of her Miyasakis) but the rest of these were apparently movies she was ready to part with…eventually. Meaning if she moves she doesn’t need to take them with her. (She has no immediate or even near future plans to move).
I was not ready for her to part with them. In fact, I insisted on moving them all back into the otherwise empty bookcases and watching one movie a night with her from her collection that I hadn’t seen (and that possibly she hadn’t seen either because I estimate about ⅕ of these movies are unopened).
So, these are the movies we watched over the course of a week from her extant (for now) DVD collection.
Night # 1: The Trouble with Harry
I was excited to see a Hitchcock movie I hadn’t seen. My mom had seen it back when it was in the theaters but didn’t remember it. Seeing it again didn’t help her remember it.
My mom had no idea what was going on. Her hearing is kaput and she has to have close captioning and this movie was pre- close captioning.
Here’s how I explained it to her:
Some guy named Harry’s dead and every character thinks they accidentally killed him but that the law will never understand it was an accident. People couple up and fall in love in the process of burying and unburying Harry again and again.
But honestly, that sentence makes it seem like it is a way more exciting movie than it is.
It seemed far more suited to being a stage play (which it was later adapted to I guess?) Except that the stage could not fully reveal the glory of the debut performance of Shirley Maclaine’s eyebrows.
Not sure how my mom stayed awake through it, except that she doesn’t usually go to sleep until four in the morning.
Not sure how I stayed awake through it except that I was mesmerized by Shirely Maclaine’s Brechtian-style of performance and by John Forsyth’s teeth.
(Also, it was something seeing Jerry Mathers pre Leave it to Beaver and the pleasant wondering of… is Royal Dano related to Paul Dano? If so, is Paul Dano Hollywood royalty?)
Mom: “It was too slow for me. Probably not for you.”
Me: “No, it was too slow for me, too.”
John Forsyth became the voice of Charlie on Charlie’s Angels.
Royal Edward Dano Sr. was the voice of Animatronic Lincoln???
Stay tuned for the reviews from the rest of the movies we watched that week!