Kage Baker loved movies. One of the great things about our lifespan was the proliferation of movies at home. She adored sitting about in her jammies, watching classic films in her own armchair – every change of media made better films available, and she was an avid collector.
The last couple years of her life she discovered Netflix, and went on a mad treasure hunt. Kage absolutely doted on silent films, and Netflix enabled her to locate things she had loved for years. But prior to disks in the mail, she’d had to rely on hunting down revival festivals and finding rental stores with a “Silent Classics Section” – which usually amounted to 3 Charlie Chaplin films and “Broken Blossoms”. She started tracking things down and buying them when she could, when the Internet began to beckon. But Netflix was the mother lode for Kage.
She got so into silent science fiction and fantasy movies that she did a whole series of reviews for Tor Online: amazing, unheard-of, uncelebrated films. Real classics, and real High Weirdness, too – I remember that the stories of Santa in the off season were especially peculiar. Not to mention the soft B& D porn of Harry Houdini films … the series was entitled Ancient Rockets, and the blog began here: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/01/ancient-rockets I recommend them – you will get a guided tour through silent cinematic insanity with Kage Baker officiating. If you haven’t read these reviews before, you will be discovering a whole new aspect of her voice. It’s great.
I watched all these with her, and the dozens of others she consumed over the years. I’m not as fascinated by silent films as she was, but our family history in Hollywood makes them all at least a little interesting … and, being Kage, she was never satisfied with one viewing. Everything was viewed over and over and over, wrung dry for nuance and implication, thoroughly digested. You know the Film Festival in Mendoza In Hollywood? As I’ve mentioned before, that scene is written from life. We watched Intolerance every night for over a week. Sometimes twice. I see it in my dreams … as do the other guests at the time, I am sure. A lot of the dialogue for that scene came out of the comments of Kage’s test audiance, on the 4th or 11th or 14th showing.
(“What is that woman wearing on her head?” I remember a young man demanding repeatedly, his head in Kage’s lap and a martini glass of rum balanced on his chest. Kage gave his lines to the traveling salesman Operative; most of the rest of him ended up in Ermenwyr …)
The final night run out into the dark empty lots of Los Angeles, with Imarte chasing Babylon and everyone else chasing Imarte – that was more or less from life, as well. Though to my knowledge none of us were immortals. I’m sure I’d have noticed eventually. But we certainly ended up dancing in the misty moonlight, with wreaths of dusty wildflowers in our hair and Ranier Ale cans in our hands. Don’t judge! We were young and poor.
Kage also liked special effect movies, and was a wild fan of summer blockbusters. Things that glittered and exploded and crashed! Decent costumes and an intriguing villain, and she was as happy as could be. One of the things I deeply regret her missing has been the recent evolution of Netflix that lets us watch films at home. I’ve been re-watching tons of good old B movies from the last 20 years or so, right at my desk – how Kage would have loved that! Though for her I’d have had to run cable to the flatscreen TV she so adored, so she and Harry could curl up in the wingback chair and watch the 42 inch screen … Kage liked an expansive viewing experience.
So far this summer I have managed Thor and POTC IV, and Super 8 just today. X-Men was in and out of the good old Vista off Hyperion Boulevard too quickly for me to see it yet – I will have to catch it at some inferior house, where the manager doesn’t dress in costume and the popcorn isn’t as good.I can recommend Super 8, too: a grand film, no end of fun, and a perfect evocation not only of summer B movies, but of being so very young and earnest so very long ago …
But the Vista WILL be getting Cowboys & Aliens! I can hardly wait. Daniel Craig was one of those actors on whose masculine pulchritude Kage and I agreed – I must go and admire that pale English complexion, those fine mean eyes and bull dancer’s body for the both of us now.
Ah, the movies on a summer afternoon – that’s a good time, that is.