My Favorite Movies – High Fidelity

“Jon Dillinger was killed behind that theater in a hail of FBI gunfire. And do you know who tipped them off? His fucking girlfriend. All he wanted to do was go to the movies.” – John Cusack as Rob Gordon

My Favorite Movies:

High Fidelity (2000)

Purveyors of media – like record collectors or avid readers – seem to have an innate difficulty in explaining their tastes. They’re eclectic, appreciating the art in ways that make pigeonholing collected likes and dislikes into an easy-to-digest explanation nearly impossible.

High FidelitySo they resort to lists.

Thanks to a compulsive need to organize messes – and by messes I mean the piles of useless taste I have stored in the recesses of my head, cluttered everywhere like piles of dirty laundry – I find it difficult to voice my tastes without creating lists. It’s very Rob Gordon-ish, I know.

I like to think I’m partially defined by the media I ingest. Take a look at my bookshelf. My iTunes. My movie shelf. That’s a little of who I am. A lot can be gleaned from a person’s shelves. In the same way, even more can be picked up from a music list. Or, at least, that’s the point that is driven home whenever I watch High Fidelity – a music fan’s movie, a dive into the obsessive mind of a record collector with nothing better to think about than music, girls and music.

Part of it is the safety that comes from a definitive selection of classics. Those are your favorites; they’ll never change, and if they do then you can convince yourself that you’re progressing as a person. John Cusack’s character – Rob Gordon – is tucked safely away in his world, afraid to grow up, afraid to commit. Hell, he’s afraid to go against the grain on his musical tastes, let alone the human condition.

It’s part childish stunting. It’s part ode to the music fan. Sure, Cusack’s characters are usually pretty much all the same, but it works – it really works – in High Fidelity. It’s the movie that the part was created for; insecure, opinionated, headstrong and meek – all at the same time.

What really hammers the point home, though, is the soundtrack. A perfectly spun selection of record store classics and new indie hits, each song highlighting a specific unforgettable scene. The movie, ultimately, is about music and the obsession some people have with it. Sure, there’s some love talk and feelings and all of that crap, but at the core, it’s music. And that soundtrack? It’s not just there, in the background – it’s the movie itself. If anything, the dialogue is soundtrack to the soundtrack, if that makes any sense.

People like me see a lot in people like Rob Gordon. We all find it easier to organize our thoughts numerically; collecting ideas in groups knowing full well that, in the grand scheme of things, humanity and life aren’t easily classifiable. It’s our way of exacting revenge on the unpredictability of everything. It’s our way of taking control.

There are reasons I’m a list maker, and those reasons always seem to be justified in High Fidelity. Childish, yes – but you don’t see me stopping, do you?

The Top Five Movie Soundtracks

1. High Fidelity (2000) – Bob Dylan shines, Springsteen lends us “The River,” and Jack Black sings “Let’s Get it On.”

2. Judgment Night (1993) – A cult classic, if a classic at all. Filled with a great group of rock/rap pairings, a few years after Aerosmith and Run DMC did it, yet a few years before it became popular. Helmet and House of Pain put on a clinic.

3. Velvet Goldmine (1998) – Supergroups performing Bowie-esque glam. Thom Yorke never sounded so gay.

4. Pulp Fiction (1994) – It’s hard to think there even needs to be a reason to justify its existence on this list. The Pulp Fiction soundtrack is like The Beatles’s Revolver or Prince’s Purple Rain (another soundtrack, actually!)

5. The Life Aquatic (2004) – Seu Jorge singing David Bowie in Portuguese. That’s all you really need to know.

Honorable Mention – The songs of Ennio Morricone; haunting, suspenseful and more recognizable than anything heard today.

This was lovingly handwritten on February 19th, 2008