Friday, November 04, 2005

Magic Moments

In the old, old days, you went to a theatre to see a film. A bit later, you saw a lot of movies on TV, shown flat and chopped up with commercials.

Now with cable and other advances, you watch movies at home. And since cable often shows movies over and over, you can tune in just for the moments you like.

For instance, there's one film, Camp, about misfit teenagers who perform musicals. It's essentially a low-rent Fame. (Though I think I prefer it--Fame is a bit too slick while a small budget gives Camp an amateur's charm.) I don't think I could sit through the whole thing again, but about 30 minutes in, they do a rousing version of "Turkey Lurkey Time," the big act one finish to Promises, Promises. I try to time it so I catch that number.

I feel similarly about Sweet Charity (like Promises, a hit 60s musical with book by Neil Simon). On stage, it was one dazzling number after another. For some reason, the same Bob Fosse routines don't play quite so well in the movie. That is, except for the wordless "Rich Man's Frug." From what I understand, Fosse virtually imports the number step for step, and it still works. If you're only gonna watch five minutes of the film, this is it.

It's not just musical numbers. I like the movie version of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, but there are two special moments I try to tune in for. First, there's the great explanation of the award system by Alec Baldwin. Then there's the wonderful vituperative speech of Al Pacino against Kevin Spacey when he queers a deal. When I see the film is playing, I try to tune in to catch one of these moments.


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