Early in the afternoon on Thursday the 15th of December 02005, I was walking down 45th Street from the Metro when I came upon my friend Nicole working the door at the majestic Neptune Theatre (Sean's new home!). They had opened Peter Jackson's King Kong the day before and in our moment of idle chitchat I asked Nicole how well it was doing. She informed me that there was barely anyone in the theatre for this first show of the day. Few phrases* manage to elicit more excitement in me than "there's barely anyone in the theatre" (obviously only in non-Metro Classics-related screenings). Having nothing better to do (if memory serves I was in search of a doughnut at the time) I decided what the hey, I'll check out this three-hour digital monstrosity.
At this point in time the only Peter Jackson film I had seen was Heavenly Creatures, which was way back in high school. When those fancy-pants Lord of the Rings movies came out I was completely off the radar of the cultural zeitgeist (plus: I'm an elitist snob!) and missed that train entirely, something I rectified a few years later. I still haven't gotten around to any of those Harry Potter thingamajigs...
Anyhow, I bought myself a ticket and planted myself in a creaky old seat in the Neptune's charming balcony. Soon enough the lights went down, I watched King Kong, and then went about my meaningless day. Nothing special right? Except that I adored it. From frame one to the final credit three freaking hours later, I was completely and utterly swept up in the Power of Movies. This big, hulking, unwieldy behemoth of a motion picture managed to seductively get under my skin. Through a two dimensional play of light on a wall, I was transported to another place and time (and life!), thanks to digitized smoke and pixelated mirrors.
I loved, loved, loved King Kong. Every little thing about it. The 1930s period setting; the clothes; the face of Naomi Watts; the heavy-handed; slow-motion TV movie effects used when Adrien Brody types out S-K-U-L-L I-S-L-A-N-D; Naomi Watts juggling; the fact that it takes an entire hour before we even get to Skull Island (digression: in fact, the entire pacing of the film is a wonder, see the bloated extended edition for proof at the theatrical cut's amazing rhythm); the awesomely disgusting bug attack; Jack Black being perfectly cast; Naomi Watts running/laughing/crying; three (3) Tyrannosaurus Rex!!! But far and away the best thing about King Kong is Andy Serkis's portrayal of the titular great ape. His intuitive, heartfelt performance makes Kong the best, most fully-realized digital creation of all time. Avatar's Na'vi look like Jar Jar Binks compared to this.
Did I mention Naomi Watts? In the early primordial ooze of discussion, lists, daydreams and lapses of reason that gestated, coalesced and was given life as Metro Classics, my colleague Ryland Walker Knight proposed a double feature of King Kong and David Lynch's Mulholland Dr, dubbing it a Naomi Watts Love Fest, which it most certainly is, and so much more. One could see Kong's Ann Darrow as the idealized actress her character(s) in Mulholland Dr aspire to be. It's the best idea Ryland has ever had. I know because I monitor his mind.
I ultimately saw King Kong three times in the theatre. Once more at the Neptune where I was stood up by my friend Aaron, so I watched it gleefully alone twice. The third viewing came several weeks later. My girlfriend who time and again expressed no interest in the film despite my secular hosannas, saw clips of it whilst watching the Oscars and said to me, "hey that looks pretty cool". I jumped ten feet in the air, screaming obscenities. Later in the week we took a bus out to West Seattle and saw Kong at the discount theatre, the Admiral Twin, the only place around still showing the film. My girlfriend cried. Ha-ha!
So did I.
*Other phrases that get me all hot and bothered include:
-"Pizza Pi, can I take your order?"
-"Blah, blah, blah, something... the Melvins... something, something...."
-"My favorite ride at Disneyland is _________"
-"The earth, it moves too slow."
-"Now batting for the Seattle Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki"
-"These aren't the droids you're looking for."
-"Fuck you old man!"
-"Who wants cookies?"