Friday, March 28, 2008

The List

Who among us can truly claim to have lived a complete life?

As quantum physics teaches us, there are, in this world, myriad possibilities, myriad paths one might take, and myriad choices. Consider for a moment the poem, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. Given the attention it is awarded in the American school system, I do not feel it is an exaggeration to say that a normal American, by the time he or she reaches the age of twenty-two, has spent an average of thirty-five hours discussing and thinking about that one poem.

Think of all the things you could accomplish if you had those thirty-five hours back.

For one, you might watch fifteen to twenty full length movies. And that brings us to our discussion about the 1986 film, Big Trouble in Little China. There are many things one could say about this picture, but the most surprising of which may be this: I lived for twenty-eight years without ever watching it.

Perhaps even more shocking is this: twenty-one of those years were AFTER the movie had been released. Only this past week did I finally receive a copy in the mail, purchased for a measly five dollars on Amazon, and then only to bring the total price of my purchase above $25 to qualify for free shipping.

I find it hard to image what I could have been doing at the age of seven that was so important, so significant, that I didn't collect my allowance and see it at the time it was first released. But there is no point dwelling in the past. No, this is the present, and the future is nearly upon us now. It will be here soon, with more films for us to consider, to study. But before it gets here, we must put our houses in order.

And to that end, I have assembled The List. You see, there are others. There are movies that every geek should see, films that remind us why we don't watch dramas or romantic comedies, unless of course those romantic comedies contain zombies. And some of these movies, I am ashamed to say, I have never seen.

It is not easy to admit such failings here, to dig deep and find such courage, but it is the first step towards recovery. I believe the second step involves watching the movie, and the other ten steps can be used to watch other movies or to do something else useful. I have always been in favor of efficiency, and twelve steps has always struck me as excessive.

Here is my List, which I share with you in the hopes you will find the courage to build your own. It is not weakness to admit a failing; it is to ignore it. These are listed in no particular order:

1. The Jerk - I've been meaning to see this for more than fifteen years now. There is really no excuse.
2. Harvey - I have never been disappointed by a movie featuring a giant, imaginary rabbit before, and I've been told this is no exception.
3. RoboCop - Even I have a hard time believing I've never seen RoboCop. This is an oversight in great need of correction.
4. Clockwork Orange - The odd thing is, not only have I read the book, but I consider it one of my favorite novels.
5. Metropolis - At college I once had an opportunity to see this. I decided against it, because I had a paper to write. I offer this not an explanation or excuse, but rather as a warning to those in a similar situation: take care what opportunities you pass up. You may end up regretting your choices.

That is my list, and certainly it could continue. But of all movies I've yet to see, these five are the most pressing, the most upsetting. How I can look in the mirror and call myself a geek is a mystery to me, but I take solace in the knowledge that I am working to make things right. Since I first made the list, I have removed movies, as well, as I've finally viewed them. The Godfather (parts I and II), Predator (I know, I know), and now... Big Trouble in Little China.

So go ahead, make your own list. And, if you haven't seen it, go ahead and put Big Trouble in Little China on there. It's an important piece of cinema. No one should go through life without having seen it, and if they only screened it in grade school, no one would.

It's certainly more relevant than Robert Frost.

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