Wednesday, October 27, 2010

There's Hope for Nerds Yet: Christine

I have about a million things to say about this film but will try to let the images do the talking. Lotta history; lotta nostalgia. It's one of my favorites. It was definitely my dad's favorite film. I think Charlie and I probably watched this (and The Blues Brothers) about once daily for an entire summer when we first got our Beta; they were the only two films we had, of course, but we didn't mind. I'll never forget rewinding (and rewinding and rewinding) the scene where the newly rebuilt-after-the-trashing Christine charges Moochie; the close up on the back right tire seemed to really amuse Charlie; we laughed at it, a lot.  My dad had a 1957 Chevy in aqua green that he restored, I have a feeling it was his  Christine. We once very nearly got the tar beaten from us when he thought we had flung drops of black spray paint onto the driver's side door--my mother saved us by showing him it was some sort of excrement, NOT spray paint. . .

Anyway, my own personal feelings aside, this film (story) is in a way a very pertinent tale about bullying. True, Arnie takes things a little too far and is sucked into the Stephen King world of bizarre evil that happens to good people, but let's face it, Arnie wouldn't have been vulnerable to any of it if he didn't start out the story as a genuine nerd. I'm not saying nerds should all go out and seek revenge upon their attackers, (I have a few rotten bitches I'd like to see squirm a bit from my junior high years) but Arnie got even, oh boy did he! Like I said, I'm not advocating bully-murder at all, I'm just saying, this story probably carries a lot of resonance for anyone who's ever dealt with a Buddy Reparton. The book and the film are quite different in this respect as the novel deals much, much more with Roland LeBay (Christine's previous owner), his obsession with the car, and the way his ghost physically comes back and begins to take over Arnie and his actions; the film just kind of alludes to that by changes in Arnie (physically he becomes more attractive, eventually chooses the car over Leigh, the use of the word "shitter," etc.) but never really portrays LeBay's ghost as a factor.

Speaking of LeBay: That brother, George, who sells Arnie the car? This is probably the most digusting image of an old person I've ever seen in my life. That back brace? And cigar? And in the following scene he has, the back brace UNDER A BLAZER? ("I'm gonna sell this shit-hole and buy me a condo") Ewwww. I can almost smell him from here. The film itself does not scare me but if I had to choose between Christine and LeBay, I'd choose Christine.

Already I'm saying too much. The film is a beautiful collection of images, many of the actors are quite attractive (I thought Dennis was smokin' hot back in the day), and John Carpenter, in addition to being able to roll out a reel of film, has a fine, fine musical sense. The scene after the Reparton Gang trashes the car where Arnie is diddling around at the counter is one of my favorites; the music (a cross between the Halloween theme and the instrumental used in the credits of The Exorcist) together with the little mechanical noises as Christine "fixes" herself really, really thrill me. I also love the scene prior to the trashing where Arnie embraces the steering wheel as Christine plays "I'll Forever Love You" on the radio. Come to think of it, any time there is some link to events happening and songs on Christine's radio, it's awesome (Christine won't start outside of Leigh's house; "It's all right, baby, everything is the same."--"I LOVE YOU LIKE I DO!")

I really, really love this film. Aces, all the way.


Donald said...

From the mid seventies til the late 80s, John Carpenter had an amazing run of great films. As soon as the 90s hit, he turned to crap for some reason. Too bad, because he's one of my all time favorite directors. And while Christine isn't one of my favorites, it's still a classic Carpenter film. Good stuff.

Anna said...

i agree.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

You know what I watched a little bit of the other day? John Carpenter's Vampires. I'm pretty sure Donald and I saw this film in the theater when we were in college. It is such a dumb film, but we were so in love with James Woods as the vampire hunter Jack Crow that it made it all right. It doesn't stand the test of time too well, though. Sadly.

One of my favorite John Carpenter films is his remake of The Thing. First of all, it's got my boy Kurt Russell in it. But second of all, it's just a creepy film. You should put that on your October list for 2011.