Best Of The Best: High Fidelity (The Movie)

For a few years now I’ve been on this absorption kick, trying to watch as many new movies and TV shows, read as many new books, comics and trades and listen to as much new music as possible. And by “new” I mean new to me, not necessarily brand new. This has probably been going on since right after college. In college I didn’t have a lot of money, but I’d still check out new movies at the theater and on the rare occasion when I could rent something, so that left me to peruse my personal DVD collection and those of my friends’. Well, one movie that I saw in high school, which spurred me on to read the book and then eventually watch the movie over and over again was High Fidelity (2000).

When I first saw High Fidelity in high school I was pretty enamored with the idea of working in a record store (still am really). I also really liked the idea of Top 5 lists, discovering new music and hanging out with music nerds and musicians. It wasn’t until I read the novel that I realized how weird of a guy Rob (the main character, played by John Cusack) is. Saying the dude has relationship problems and issues with women is like saying Michael Myers is irked by promiscuous teenagers. Anyway, Em and I watched High Fidelity on the car ride back to Ohio about a month ago (well, I recited every line in my head while she watched it for the first time on our portable DVD player). It was probably the first time in three years that I watched it. I used to watch it about once a month my Junior year of college when my roommate would be away from the room at night, it was his copy, so I had to buy my own once he graduated later that year.

It’s funny how different I look at things now that I’m older. I still love all of Jack Black’s lines and still want to a own a magical record store that doesn’t go bankrupt, but I look at Rob a lot differently now. I see how damaged he is and wonder what happened to him. I’m also glad that things worked out for him by the end of the movie, but also wonder if they stuck. Maybe when he turned 40 or 50 he flipped out and went through another crazy decade or something. Basically, I’ve been thinking about how these characters that were so important to me when I was maturing, dealt with further maturation, cause this growing up stuff can really suck.

Philosophy aside, I actually got into an argument with someone in the middle of a movie for my film class in college over High Fidelity. The movie was called Mifune (1999) and is from Denmark. The main woman in the movie is taking care of her mentally handicapped brother who’s obsessed with Toshiro Mifune, an actor in many an Akira Kurosawa film. I think there was something about aliens too, but who can remember all those subtitles? Anyway, I got into an argument saying that the main female character was Laura from High Fidelity and whoever I was with was completely convinced I was wrong. Well, I went right home and IMDbed her and was right Iben Hjejle was in both, so suck it whoever that was. Knowing that, it explains a few of Laura’s vocal ticks that always made me curious.

So, I guess I haven’t really explained why I like High Fidelity so much, but I’m not really sure if I could. I don’t know how into the movie I would be if I hadn’t fallen in love with it when I was younger. It’s like, I didn’t like Reality Bites when I first saw it because I thought Ben Stiller shouldn’t have been such a pussy, but maybe if I was really into the idea of making films that would have been enough to keep me hooked. I should check Reality Bites out again actually, it’s been a while. Anyway, I used to wonder when I was in high school if I would still really like movies like Empire Records and Dazed & Confused when I got older, because I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High with my dad one time and I don’t think he enjoyed it as much, probably because you remember things like Phoebe Cates’ boobs and not that abortion stuff. Well, luckily for me (at least so far) I still like a lot of those movies. It’s a weird combination of quality and fondness, I’m guessing, with a sliding scale depending on the flick. High Fidelity still strikes a chord with me, but I wonder if 50-year-old TJ will be reclining in his hoverchair and still enjoying watching John Cusack go through his Top 5 Break-Ups Of All Time on my holo-glasses with the same enjoyment as I do now. If not, I at least hope I’ll still remember all of Jack Black’s lines. Let’s just hope I’m not wearing a Cosby sweater while watching.

Oh, and anyone wonder how close the movie is to the book, it’s super freaking close. Like, so close they turned the book into the script word for word. Well, it’s not British, but everything else is in there, just peep the deleted scenes for scenes from the book that didn’t make it into the movie (I love the stuff with the jilted wife trying to sell her cheating husband’s record collection). There was also a musical on Broadway that I missed out on, but Ben saw, hopefully he (or anyone else who’s seen it) will comment. Hopefully next there will be a video game to continue the slow media evolution of this property. Just think of how much fun it’s be to kick the shit out of this f#cking Ian guy in a myriad of different scenarios? Get working on that Flash dudes.

Also, check out this video I just discovered on YouTube, I’ve never seen it before!

Nick’s Knack

1:40:27 am

Every now and then between reading trades, watching movies and re-watching Buffy I do read some books without pictures. A personal favorite author of mine is Brit Nick Hornby. I got introduced to Nick’s work after finding out that High Fidelity was based on a book. Soon I went to the bookstore and picked up my own copy of one of the few books I’ve actually read twice and read it for the first time. I was blown away by the way his narrative weaved in and out between the world of record collecting and intense relationship stuff that I didn’t really understand at the time.

I haven’t read About A Boy or How to Be Good, which are the two books after High Fidelity that everyone asks me about when I tell them I like Hornby. What can I say? I’m a slow reader and I had plenty of books to read throughout college. But, after getting a real job and moving to New York I started trolling Barnes and Noble and Borders for their bargain books. I now have a stack of about 20 books that I’m getting through slowly but surely. Two of those books have been by Hornby: A Long Way Down and Slam.

I picked both books up (in hardcover even) without even reading what they were about. His name (and the under $7 price tag sold me from the word go). I read A Long Way Down in a few days, which is pretty impressive for me. It’s a book about four very different people who all meet at a popular suicide spot on New Year’s Eve. What I like about Nick is that he gets to the part of the story that a lot of other authors would use as their endings and then pushes on from there. In this case, you’d think that the people meeting on the building to kill themselves would be the end, but it’s just the beginning as they become friends, form a strange little club and learn more about each other (as we do when each character takes a turn at narrating).

Tonight, I finished Slam which is about a 16 year old kid who talks to his Tony Hawk poster and gets the first girl he’s ever slept with pregnant. Again, Hornby really delves deep into the psyche of a kid who’s about to have a kid. And while it’s funny, it’s also incredibly scary and intimidating. I actually put Slam down for quite a while after starting it (I do that a lot). Sometimes its because I don’t really like the book and sometimes its because I’d rather watch TV or read trades. For some reason I thought that Slam was the latter, but I’m glad I picked it back up last week and finished it because I really, really dug it. Horny keeps the focus on Sam the whole time, telling the story from his perspective. It’s an imperfect perspective, of course, but that’s what makes it so charming. It wasn’t TOO long ago that I was 16 (though I didn’t have the problems Sam does), but I can distinctly remember feeling some of the same things he does and feeling the same way. It’s a great book for guys to read and enjoy, but I also really think it’s the rare book that you could hand to a woman and tell her “this is what it’s like to be a 16 year old boy.” Even if he is British.

I do wish his books came with a bit of a glossary though. I’m familiar with most of the British slang, but there’s always something that throws me. I had to look up the word “skint” (it means poor) and I wasn’t sure if British college is the same as ours. I think it is, but I’m not sure. I do think I’m going to start using “do my head in” when someone’s driving me crazy. Also, I kind of want to go to Hastings to see what it’s really like.