Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Kirk Movie

When Becca and I were first dating, I soon came to realize there was another genre of film aside from those you normally find at the video store or Netflix queue, like horror, romance, classics, drama, war, science fiction...

...and that genre is the "Kirk Movie."

I would show Becca some gem of cinematic brilliance, and afterwards, she'd blink, rub her eyes, and say, "That was a Kirk Movie."

The trouble is, she never was all that great about explaining precisely what made a Kirk Movie. She couldn't explain it. She could give examples -- Videodrome was a Kirk Movie, as was Pulp Fiction, Radio Flyer, and various other little oddities.

I quickly learned that simply because Kirk liked a movie did not make it a Kirk Movie. Kirk, after all, liked "Gone With The Wind" and "It's A Wonderful Life," for example. These were not Kirk Movies. Often, weird little indie films would be Kirk Movies, but this was not a requirement -- Pulp Fiction was the least obscure Kirk Movie ever made, and several others were pretty mainstream.

Perhaps Kirk Movies were particularly bad films, like Plan 9 From Outer Space, or Robot Monster? I'm still pretty fond of those. But no, while these films were quite bad (and quite funny,) they were not Kirk Movies. They were "Mystery Science" movies, movies made to be made fun of on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. While they did fall into a specific category in the Becca Nomenclature, they were not Kirk Movies.

Horror movies? No. Becca has her own categorizations there -- thrillers, suspense, splatter, zombie, splatcom, even (as in "splatter comedy,") but a horror movie was still not necessarily a Kirk Movie. There remained some element, some inexplicable thing that separates THIS genre from any other.

Last week, we watched Masters Of Horror: Cigarette Burns, a spooky little number by John Carpenter. It's quite strange, and very spooky, and has to do with the search for a lost film... a film which has the effect of driving anyone who sees it utterly insane, and usually causing them to become violently so. As you might expect, the ending of this particular film is horrifying, a tad gory, and quite surreal. As I watched our hero's hallucinations unspool, it occurred to me that we might well be watching a Kirk Movie.

"Well," I asked, as the credits rolled, "Was this a Kirk Movie?"

"No," she said, "of course not," as if it were self-evident.

"WHY NOT?" I said. I've been married to this wonderful, beautiful, magical woman for fifteen years, but there are days I'm no closer to understanding her than on day one...

"Because the plot was self evident," she said. "It's quite obvious what happened, here. One thing led to another. At no point was I ever wondering 'what the hell happened?' "

"Wha?" I said.

She sighed. "The man began hunting the movie. The man met others who had seen the movie. He saw that they were crazy, and his personal demons and his quest were making HIM crazy. Finally, at the end, he saw the movie, and it all made sense. He goes crazy, and [SPOILERS TERMINATED]. We see all of this. At no point did I wonder if I was seeing things from MY point of view, HIS point of view, or the DIRECTOR'S point of view. It all made perfect sense."

"So," I started uncertainly, "A Kirk Movie is a movie that doesn't make sense?"

"Largely," she said. "Videodrome, for example: you can sit up all night arguing that the weird stuff you're seeing is either real, or James Woods hallucinating because he's insane, or a mix of both. Naked Lunch made nearly no sense at ALL except as allegory. THESE were Kirk Movies."

Ah. Well. At least after fifteen years, ONE thing make sense...

1 comment:

  1. Weirdly enough, VIDEODROME holds up surprisingly well, despite its age. Mostly, you just have to overlook the antiquated Eighties video technology... but a lot of the ideas are still very lively.