Why Singles might be my favorite movie ever

posted by Jeff | Saturday, April 11, 2015, 10:30 PM | comments: 2

They finally published Cameron Crowe's Singles on Bluray. I first saw the movie in 1993, on VHS tape, and I happened to get the soundtrack for free from my college radio station because we got three copies of it. It's the perfect compilation of music from that time period. There are a hundred reasons why I love the movie, and I'm not sure I can easily organize all of the reasons.

The fashion is of course a great time capsule. Grunge fashion is funny, but also in some ways it was just practical for living in Seattle. It's cool there most of the year! But it was an interesting transitional time too. Kyra Sedgwick has this fantastic big curly hair, but not the teased look that dominated the late 80's and early 90's. Lots of straight hair too.

There are some great technological things going on there too. There are pay phones, answering machines, cordless phones with huge antennae, big TV's, newspapers, monochrome computers ("Whoa, do you jog?"), no Internet, a miracle watch that can store 20 phone numbers!

And what about the actors? Jeremy Piven as the grocery store clerk, Eric Stoltz as the mime (and drug dealer in Pulp Fiction), Bill Pullman as the plastic surgeon, Paul Giamatti as the guy sucking face with the woman at the restaurant, Tim Burton as a dating video director, Victor Garber, not even credited, Tom Skerritt as the mayor, Peter Horton as the bicycle guy. It's just funny to see these folks in minor roles.

The leads all really came to be loved in many different roles on TV and in film. I'm not sure why Bridget Fonda wasn't someone we saw more of. She's completely adorable, and I love the scene she has with Bill Pullman, who tells her she doesn't need a boob job (this is very extended in the new special features). Of course, Sedgwick is The Closer, and Campbell Scott has been in a hundred things. Matt Dillon has made a career, mostly of comedy.

The music, as is the case with all of Crowe's movies, is fantastic. As much as the grunge bands play center stage in the movie, and important as they are to the period in terms of music history, it's not quite hero worship. I mean, they kind of make fun of grunge bands, using real life Pearl Jam no less. The soundtrack is a perfect playlist though, and the tracks they use in the movie are well placed. Paul Westerberg actually wrote much of the music, and it works so well. Smashing Pumpkins' "Drown" is probably their best song ever... 4 minutes building up, then 4 minutes of fabulous guitar noise. Love it.

I wouldn't live in Seattle until 16 years after seeing the movie, which only made the movie more interesting. When we moved to Seattle, I thought it would be fun to pick out locations from the movie and find them. We only really made it to Pike Place (duh), the Virginia Inn (and also the hill next to it is the one Debbie Hunt climbs on her bike... I have a photo of Diana climbing it on foot, pregnant), I suppose the SODO area, where we went to Showbox for a show (SODO, for the record, is "south of the dome," where the King Dome used to be, not "downtown"), and the water front. We never did go find the actual apartment building.

It's a love letter to Seattle in terms of the setting. It's like a character in the story. I was actually surprised at how little it had changed. It's such a beautiful place, and dammit I miss it.

Oh, the thing about the garage door openers became kind of funny, because Diana symbolically gave me one of hers when we started dating more seriously. Fortunately, I've never thought about Xavier McDaniel while getting busy.



April 20, 2015, 11:18 PM #

The apartment building in Singles is on Capitol Hill at 1820 E John -- I used to live right down the street from it on 19th Ave E.



April 20, 2015, 11:20 PM #

Whoops, make that 1820 E Thomas, one block over...

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