They'd get a little bit older and a little bit slower...”
--John Lennon, “Revolution #9”
The other night I was sitting in the palatial F This Movie! offices, enjoying a margarita on the rocks and re-reading some old columns. The search bar in the upper-left-hand corner of the home page is handy for this purpose, or the “Movies A-Z” tab on that same home page, or the secret archive of FTM column hard copies, printed on 100% virgin rag stock and hand-illuminated by itinerant monks. (Don’t forget to hit that donate button, we’re running low on monk chow!)
Sometimes I would notice a film that I had never heard of and/or never seen, but that sounded like something I would like. Then sometimes my click-through revealed that I had not only heard of the film in question, but I must have seen it too... BECAUSE I HAD WRITTEN THE COLUMN. I began to have a little more sympathy for Michael Stipe who, the last time I saw REM in concert, was availing himself of printed lyrics to all the songs on a small music stand. At the time, this had filled me with stupid anger: “Hey Stipe, I know all the lyrics to all of your songs, and I’m not getting PAID to sing them!”
I get it now. I continued to click. I continued to read. I continued to be amazed at all I had forgotten. Now I understand why my son claims that I repeat myself so much; it’s because I can’t remember that I’ve already said it. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be annoying. (Actually, I do mean to be annoying, but I didn’t mean to have early-onset dementia.)
Anyways, now I understand why my son claims that I repeat myself so much; it’s because I can’t remember that I’ve already said it. Here is a by-no-means-complete list of my favorite columns I have absolutely no memory of writing. Reading (re-reading?) them was a trip because I kept commenting to myself about “how goddamned insightful this JB fellow is.”
2. The Miracle of Marcelino: The only dim memory of this one I retain is my brother-in-law talking about it at the holidays and me going on a hard-target internet search to find him a copy. One of the most legitimately frightening films I have ever seen, Marcelino involves an orphan raised by monks (not Patrick’s monks, DIFFERENT monks) who gets a big surprise when he finally makes his way to the monastery attic where he has been told never to go. This column is notable for the great comments it received from friends-of-the-site Heath Holland and JM Vargas, assuring me that this horrifying curio was real and I did not simple dream it.
4. Three Strangers: A film re-teaming most of the cast of The Maltese Falcon, featuring my two favorite character actors of all time, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre? Well, obviously it exists, courtesy of Warner Archive. I have no memory whatsoever of this. Apparently, it involves the Irish Sweepstakes.
6. WHIFFS: Re-reading this one made me think that I had dreamt it. Elliot Gould in a black comedy about poison gas? Jennifer O’Neill four years after Summer of ’42? Eddie Albert ten years after Green Acres? Hilarious!
8. Romance and Cigarettes: A John Turturro-directed musical starring Susan Sarandon, James Gandolfini, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, Bobby Cannavale, and Mandy Moore? No memory of this, whatsoever, although I vaguely remember that Mandy Moore herself responded to our Twitter post, reminiscing about how much fun her first movie was... You might need to see this if only to say that you have seen the only film in which Oscar-winner Kate Winslet lip-synchs to Connie Francis!
10. A Pistol for Ringo: This one disturbs me because, according to the site, I both saw this and wrote about it only three short years ago. Is it a pandemic thing? Is it my continued Spaghetti Western deep dive that renders all similar films interchangeable? For a short second, I thought this was the Western the Beatles almost made to fulfill their United Artists contract in 1967, A Talent for Loving.
In the comments section below, feel free to suggest other columns I can’t remember that I wrote BECAUSE I NEVER WROTE THEM. Now I understand why my son claims that I repeat myself so much; it’s because I can’t remember that I’ve already said it.