Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

23 January 2008

The Thing Called Love, dir. Peter Bogdanovich (1993)

STEVE says:
Part 2 in our Struck Down In Their Prime double-header.

I gotta say, I never thought much of River Phoenix. I didn't dislike him so much as he just kinda bugged me. Every time I saw him, it was like he was the same character over and over again. Or worse, no character, just River. Little Corey Carrier did a better job of channeling Harrison Ford in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles than River did in Last Crusade. He wasn't convincing as a young Indy - he was just River playing Indy.

But I watch The Thing Called Love and I can see what everyone was talking about. Not in retrospect: I'm not watching Stand by Me or Jimmy Reardon now and going, "Oh, yeah, I get it, he was brilliant!" No, he still annoys me in pretty much everything else.

But this movie, I don't know. I wish he could have done more.

Not that the movie itself is even brilliant - there are plot holes, dropped story lines, and that inconclusive ending to consider - but for some reason, because it's Peter Bogdanovich, maybe, you just kind of let all that go and focus on the rest.

And the rest is well worth it.


NIKKI says:
It's hard to revisit films like this one. This is a film -- like Dogfight, like Stand By Me -- that has been so significant in my life, for so long, that going back to it is sort of like jumping in a time machine to head back to 1993, when you were 14, and every little thing seemed just so big. So bizarre, too, that I should re-watch this the day before I receive an email from my old best friend, Shelley, who adored River Phoenix right along with me. Back then, we actually named each other after River, using his nickname and middle name as our names. His death left a mark on our lives, and it's something I still struggle with. I'm not even going to try to explain what the whole thing meant to us and for us. I don't know if I've ever really even sat down to organise those thoughts. I just stopped watching River's movies. I've seen Stand By Me once or twice since, and have yet to watch Dogfight. This was my second viewing of The Thing Called Love since 1993.

I love it as much as I ever did. It's just beautiful. It speaks to the little lost girl in me then as much as it does now. The impact it had on me growing up remains, in terms of my interests and the sort of person I want to be. Admittedly, I've spent more time in as Linda-Lou, when I know I should be strong like Miranda. Still, between the two hasn't served me too badly in my life. I enjoy the film's wandering spirit. I love its focus on loyalty. I love its poetry. It remains one of my favourite films.

Watching River was difficult. I was happy to hear Steve found his performance so good. I'm not sure his performance here is my favourite. I get a weird sense he's just not into it. I prefer to watch him in other films, though I love hearing him sing here. It is still a sad fucking tragedy that he died.


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