My Take by Jim Carl - March 7, 2012
THE DOORS (1991)
Oliver Stone’s The Doors unfortunately coincided with the sinful years I spent living in New York, working in the production offices of TV series like The Equalizer and Law and Order, and behaving like an entitled, over-stimulated, narcissistic, twenty-something jerk. Ask anyone who knew me in those days and they’ll probably tell you that I’m not exaggerating; or better yet, don’t. As you can tell, my memories of this time may be slightly tainted with humility.
1991 was the year that introduced moviegoers to a certain villain with a penchant for fava beans and a good chianti, Robin Hood spoke with an American accent, and a bee sting felled the brat from Home Alone. My favorite movie was Kenneth Branagh’s Dead Again. My least-favorite was Spielberg’s syrupy Hook. Somewhere in between were Backdraft, Terminator 2, Soapdish, and Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country. I was the only person in New York who believed The Fisher King was a tremendous waste of a good filming permit. I was also the only person in the city that never sleeps who believed Gary Busey deserved an Oscar nod for Point Break. (Laughed at me, my fellow film classmates did. And yet 20 years later, I ask: Dear History, who was proven right? Does anyone even remember The Fisher King? Suck it, New York Film Classmates.) The Doors, however, still holds a special distinction amongst all the cacophony of 1991. It was one of those rare movies that Forever Changed My Life. Shrieking violins, that was your cue.
My story goes something like this: NYC Premiere. Celebrities. Paparazzi. Spotlights. Posh, posh. Special invitation and all that what-have-you. It helps when one of your professors happens to serve on the New York Film Critics Society…or whatever it was called back then. I was invited, and what an ego I must have had about the whole event. It shames me.
It was all so exciting and glamorous. At 22 years of age, I had arrived. Over there was Oliver Stone. Here were Val Kilmer and Meg Ryan. Down the hall was that guy from Dune. Kyle MacLachlan, I think he was named. The world was my oyster and I intended to feast on its plump carcass…except for one tiny, little thing: I hated this imbecilic movie. If there has ever been a film which epitomized everything I was not (at least not in 1991), The Doors would win some type of award. I called bullshit. Sitting at its premiere was the equivalent of being stuck in an elevator with a raging, alcoholic junkie who doesn’t realize he’s being a bore, and nothing to do but wait things out til rescue arrives. Or kill the ingratiating bastard. It was the first time in my life I found myself trapped in a high-security setting, surrounded by influential and important people (or so I thought), and yet kept whipping my head around every 20 minutes to see if the projectionist was loading another reel. Hour after hour of footage, it seemed, about one man’s wretched excess, obnoxious behavior, and descent into self-pitying stupor. All punctuated by songs I’ve never liked very much.
In the 70s, I was listening to The Eagles and Creedence Clearwater Revival; the type of rock-and-roll you could hum while riding your 10-speed on the dusty back roads toward Lake Sweetwater. The craziness of Vietnam, Watergate, and rebellious counter-culture was lost upon me. I have never recalled wanting to leave a movie so badly...and being so unwilling to bolt because I wanted to later tell my friends how important I was to have attended in the first place. In a nutshell, that’s the rub, isn’t it? It’s the moment the replicant becomes self-aware in Blade Runner and asks, “Why am I here?”
Sound of record screeching to a halt. Sound of silence.
Another life lesson learned the hard way. Just because you're watching a movie at a high-class event, like some fancy film festival or a premiere, doesn't make it any better. It took Oliver Stone’s The Doors to make me realize that. False Self, you have been unmasked.
Do you have a movie that made you self-aware? A film-going experience that made you cringe at your own immature behavior? Tell me about it.