My Life as a Rom-Com

Am on holiday in France with D. This involves a lot of going to dinner and chitchatting about stuff – the books we’re writing, the things we want to do, and, inevitably, films. D and I are both big film fans. There is a problem though; I forget pretty much every film I watch. The only films with plots I can remember are:

  • Zoolander
  • Inland Empire
  • Vertigo

That’s about it.

We were sat in a restaurant in Sarlat a few days ago. While I was chowing down on Carpaccio we started talking about Last Tango in Paris. The conversation went like this:

D: “have you seen Last Tango in Paris? ”
Me: “yes. ”
D: “what do you remember?”
Me: “butter. Marlon Brando.”
D: “anything else?”
Me: “no.”
D: “did you just see that on a list show? ”
Me: “nope. Definitely seen it.”

By the time I’d got to my confit de canard, we had been through:

The Empire Strikes Back
D:”do you remember what happens?”
Me: “doesn’t the Empire strike back?”

The Holy Mountain
D: “i can’t believe you don’t remember the woman with the leopard heads for tits.”

Blue Velvet
Me: “there’s this guy called Frank sucking on some gas. And there’s that ear.”

Etc etc

Films don’t stick very well in my head. The list could go on. I need to watch films many times to remember them (I have seen The Holy Mountain three times though).

In order facilitate better chitchat in the future I suggested to D that over the next 12 months I would get to know 12 films of his choice inside out. This means I’ll have to watch them many times. And, I’ll write posts about them here to help them stick even more.

In return, I decided to get D to do something for me. He’s not the most romantic or spontaneous of people so I suggested that over the next 12 months he has to give me 12 surprises. By surprises I don’t mean jumping out from behind a door to scare me but 12 romantic gestures.

It is, no doubt, the plot of a cheesy rom-com.

The synopsis:
There’s nothing Siobhan loves more than a surprise but when she married Darren she thought she’d given that up forever. But then they made a deal: she would learn about the films he loves in return for 12 romantic gestures. Can Siobhan actually learn to use her memory? Will Darren be able to put off some romance? Next summer’s romantic comedy, 12 Surprises, is about learning more about the person you love, and about the laughter, and tears, you have upon the way.

Of course, there’ll have to be some dramatic moment when one of D’s surprises goes horribly wrong and it looks like I’ll leave him, but then I’ll watch one of his films and realise why I love him and it’ll come good in the end.

Anyway, here are the films I’ve got to watch and learn inside out. I have seen a number of them before but I’ve totally forgotten what happens.

  • JulyMon Oncle (Tati) – I always fall asleep when I watch Tati. The music is so peaceful.
  • AugustSeul Contra Tous (Noe) – seen Irreversible and Enter the Void so imagine this will be an ordeal.
  • SeptemberAu Hasard Balthazar (Bresson) – looking forward to this the most.
  • OctoberA Canterbury Tale (Powell and Pressburger) – not my favourite P&P but D loves it.
  • NovemberHarold and Maude (Ashby) – seen it, like it, very cute.
  • DecemberSalo (Pasolini) – a cheery Christmas fable.
  • JanuaryBlue Velvet (Lynch) – love Lynch.
  • FebruarySyndromes and a Century (Weerasethakul) – slow, ponderous, beautiful.
  • MarchAlphaville (Godard) – went to see this at a cinema in Coventry but turned out they had this listing wrong and were actually showing Alphadog.
  • AprilLast Tango in Paris (Bertolucci) – butter, Marlon Brando.
  • MayTouch of Evil (Welles) – hope I like it more than Citizen Kane.
  • JuneBlue (Jarman) – rounding things off with an experimental film about AIDS.

That’s my year plotted out in films. He’s also putting together a list of “grim but good” films for me to watch while I’m away in Cornwall for a month. More on that later.

Will report back on each of the films with a review, and also update on D’s surprises.

There will, no doubt, be hilarious consequences.