WILD THINGS MONTH continues here on the ol' MOVIE DIARY 2018, and my internet pal Kristin Lueke has returned to join us in the MOVIE DIARY 2018 event of the year (at least until the next MOVIE DIARY 2018 event of the year)! This is the penultimate entry in WILD THINGS MONTH, I hope you've been enjoying it! If you have, please stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion, and if you haven't there's only one more left you baby.
Wild Things (1998)
SPECIAL GUEST WRITER: KRISTIN LUEKE
Wild Things is a pre-9/11 erotic thriller that could only have been made precisely when it was. It appears to have been entirely shot using the Kelvin filter. Denise Richards spends much of it wet.
I hadn’t watched it in at least a decade, and before that since 1998, when it first came out in theaters and I was 15 and had my first brush with full frontal nudity. At the time, I remember thinking it was scandalous and awesome—perverse, edgy, wet as hell. Rewatching it now, I can say that the movie hasn’t really aged. But I have.
I don’t mind that Wild Things asks me to believe that Matt Dillon is a pasture-raised Grade A piece of prize American beef. The teen boys want to be him and the teen girls want to rub their tiddies on him, and you know what, fine. But I was a teen once, and I can tell you YES we were all horny, no duh, but no way were we smarming on and on in front of teachers and cops alike about how much we wanted to crush some butt. (That all happens in the first scene of Wild Things.)
Rewatching Wild Things at 35 made me feel the distance between now and 15. Then, Wild Things was real sexual. It made me want to make out with dangerous girls and wear mascara in the pool. Kevin Bacon’s half-mast shower surprise left me breathless. (Much has been made of the film’s preferential opening, but for my money, I wanted to rewind and pause at the precise moment Bacon turned that butt around and showed us the struggler.) When you’re 15 years old and it’s 1998, Wild Things has a thing or two to teach you about erotic thrills. 20 years later, I realize that Wild Things is not at all an erotic thriller. There are, at most, two erotic-ish scenes, and one of them includes Matt Dillon making a lot of Matt Dillon face. (I don’t want my whole Movie Diary *thing* to be “Is he actually hot tho?” but I guess if the shoe fits, go on and ask if it’s even really hot.) The other one is literally framed by the male gaze.
I guess what was wildest to me about rewatching Wild Things was understanding that the movie is less about erotic thrills than it is about teens being horny and mad. Which isn’t hot, it’s a nightmare! And that itself breeds a kind of double horror—that I am as I age unmoved as I once was by these tawdry delights. I am not upset with Wild Things for no longer titillating me as it once did, but grateful rather for all I’ve learned in the 20 years since I first watched Wild Things:
That threesomes are more trouble than they’re worth.
That you should always put some fresh undies on before leaving the house.
That dicks aren’t that special.
That never go to Florida.
That smart doesn’t have to mean alone and angry.
That it’s cool to talk to licensed professionals and normal and good to like kissing girls and that Bill Murray does in fact have one mode and it’s Murray. And that’s okay too. I don’t need him to be anything else.
And I realize now, days after rewatching Wild Things and meditating on it and trying and failing to figure out just what I want and NEED to say about Wild Things, that maybe the real wild things was what we learned about ourselves along the way. Wild.
Kristin Lueke is a Virgo, but that’s not all! She’s also a native Californian and a poet, whose work has popped up in places like Untoward Magazine and NAP. Her chapbook, (in)different math, is small and quiet, though she herself is neither. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize precisely once, for a poem about revenge. It didn't win.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)
I’m absolutely not a historian, but this movie is kind of a fitting relic of the late aughts/early two thousand teens where we* (*me and those around me) all seemed so optimistic in the face of almost everything about to fall apart. I feel like maybe it’s very tough for me to evaluate this movie on any real critical basis because it just seems so inextricably linked with that weird period of my life where I’d just graduated from college, and I was working as a barista, and I was getting drunk and sleeping on my friend’s floor or in my car if I had an early shift the next day, and I wasn’t happy most of the time but I guess I was having fun. When it came out, this movie seemed to speak to the absurdity of that time in my life of being a directionless jerk. Rewatching this movie now that I’m older and have a little bit more stability* with my life (*ie I blog every week and go to bed at a reasonable hour), I thought I might be over it in that “I can’t believe I liked this or was ever like this” sort of way, but I still found it really fun and charming.
Michael Cera’s Michael Cera-ness is perfect for playing an selfish, oblivious dummy like Scott (What a shame that we didn’t have the word “fuccboi” to describe him at the time), this was still back when Chris Evans was doing something fun with his performances, Brandon Routh is great at being a dumb hot guy and I wish we’d gotten more dumb hot guy performances from him before they shipped him off to be a bit player in the CW’s superhero shows, Kieran Culkin gets so many good lines, and Jason Schwartzman! What a dick! He’s perfect in this. Now that I’m thinking about it, this movie is also a fun relic of the time right before every actor got sucked up into the superhero industrial complex. Everyone else gives some fun performances, I especially loved Ellen Wong this time around and I think it sucks that they didn’t go with the ending where Knives and Scott end up together since that’s where it all seemed to be going anyway (but on the other hand Knives is still in high school and too good for Scott so whatever, it works fine, who cares). Her character is so great and pure, an exaggerated reminder of what it’s like to be young and discovering music and feelings and then obsessing too hard over your new music and new feelings because you can’t help it, it’s all so new and exciting and you’re getting caught up in trying to find that band or that person that’s just yours, that only you can understand as deeply as you do, and fuck man maybe the indie music scene wasn’t so bad, let’s all get back into blogging and like listening to Metric or whatever and pretending that we wanted to move to Montreal or Omaha and just really get serious about music.
Sliding Doors (1998)
Boy I was not prepared for this! Somehow in the twenty years since its release I did not have the ending spoiled for me, and I was floored! The rest of the movie is fine, it was whatever to me. I kind of thought that both of the guys were jerks. The first one is cheating on Helen and on top of that he’s being a total wiener about it, constantly agonizing about cheating on her with his ex girlfriend (shoutout Jeanne Tripplehorn for being SO mean in this), and the other one quotes Monty Python at her and relishes in leading his buddies in summer camp-style call and response songs?? Both of them suck. But! Wow that ending! In one timeline Helen gets hit by a car and dies! Then in the other she falls down the stairs and loses her baby! SO RAW! WHO HAD ANY IDEA! But! In the timeline where she’s still alive she ends up meeting the other guy, the Monty Python guy, and they end up together! It’s genuinely very sweet and it made me forget about how annoying I thought the Monty Python guy was and retroactively like the rest of the movie.
It’s Complicated (2009)
I’ll be honest here I don’t remember a whole lot about how this movie went down. I’m not even sure I remember whether or not Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin end up together. All I do remember is watching this and saying the same thing I always say when I watch a Nancy Meyers movie, “Rich people are different.” I mean, the lavish interior design of the sets in her movies is always a big talking point about Nancy Meyers, sure, but there’s this way that all the characters behave where they’re just… different. I’m not sure I know how to explain it, it’s like, they have their problems that they’re dealing with but there’s no sense that these people exist in the real world with the rest of us? Like there’s this part where Meryl Streep asks her son if he needs anything before his graduation party that night and he tells her that he’d like to use her credit card and she just happily shakes her head AND SHE AGREES, or that other part where Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin and their three blonde children are all checking out of their swanky hotel and Alec Baldwin mentions that his flight is departing like an hour or two after everybody else’s, and their son, freshly graduated from NYU, excitedly chimes in, “Why don’t you just change your flight?” First off, there are a couple reasons: it costs money to change a flight like that? a New York to California flight is usually sold out? Also it’s a difference of a couple hours so who cares and how much bonding do you expect to be doing with your family on a plane?? I’m usually fine giving this stuff a pass, but I don’t know man, something about watching that kid just ask to borrow a credit card like it was a bottle of water or something just took me out of it entirely. I don’t know I’m sure this was probably an ok Nancy Meyers movie? I remember there being a lot of jokes about olds using the internet and smoking weed, I’m sure it was fine.