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Apr 3, 2008

Do I have a problem or a gift? You decide.

Last night, Mrs. Fletch and I attended a pre-screening of a movie that won't be released for a few months. We were held at gunpoint and threatened with our lives if we said anything about the movie, and I had to lie and say that I wasn't "involved with movie reviews." So, I can't tell you anything about the movie, but I'm going to anyway. Well, kind of. Let's just say that it stars Luke Wilson and was shown at Sundance - the rest I leave up to you.

Anyway, what we saw and the intricacies of the rules for what we saw aren't really relevant here. Instead, this stemmed from seeing an actress that had a small, unimportant role in the movie. She was onscreen approximately five seconds and had maybe one line. The problem/gift? Despite such a brief appearance, I recognized her, and parts of the next few hours were spent trying to figure out who she was.

I finally did figure it out - I recalled her from playing Sister Roberta in an episode of Seinfeld (the one where Kramer has the Kevorka). As it turns out, her name is Molly Hagan, and though I might have unknowingly seen her at some point over the last 15 years (it appears as though she's guested on just about every TV series known to man), that episode of Seinfeld and a small role in Election are probably the only things I should know her from over that time.

Really, she's only a small part of the problem, though. See, I'd have a hard time telling you what color my sibling's eyes were, but I can tell you off the top of my head that Elias Koteas played Ethan Hawke's dad in Gattaca or that John Carroll Lynch played Frances McDormand's wife in Fargo. Last night, Sea of Love popped up on HBO, and as I sat and watched the first ten minutes, I spotted Paul Calderon in a small part. Who's Paul Calderon, you're asking? Well, for starters, he was the bartender in Pulp Fiction. (Sam Jackson also had a small role in Sea, but recognizing him is no feat.) I know that Giancarlo Esposito (who owns one of the all-time greatest names ever) played a detective in The Usual Suspects. Shall I keep going?

Probably not.

What most likely bothers me more than anything is that, if this were some kind of strange talent - as if I were a walking, talking Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game - it is negated by the existence of IMDb. Anyone can find out this information, as it's right at their fingertips. I have a skill that a monkey that duplicate, and there isn't too much real-world application for it, unless I'm either having a geek-off (woo!) with fellow movie nerds or attempting to make a game show (which I did).

So I ask you - curse or gift?

13 people have chosen wisely: on "Do I have a problem or a gift? You decide."

Mrs Fletch said...

It's a gift! Vaguely similar to blind people that develop excellent hearing - you somehow developed this special talent to make up for the fact that you can't see pink.

Mrs. Fletch said...

P.S. Last time you had a geek-off with fellow movie nerds it looked like you were having a REALLY GOOD time!

Tully Moxness said...

I have the same affliction, and it sucks that IMDB has rendered me semi-useless. However, many people have no concept of how to use IMDB, and I have no intention of educating them. We should appreciate our gifts, and I try to do so by butchering my friends at SceneIt any chance I get.

Without looking at that website, I can also tell you that Molly Hagan played the snobby friend of Lea Thompson's in 'Some Kind of Wonderful' and was also the sensitivity portion of 'Herman's Head'. Fill me up!!!

I've been on two game shows (Jeopardy! and Win Ben Stein's Money - won for one day on the former and got bashed by Jimmy Kimmel on the latter), but the bitter heartbreak of passing the test but failing the interview of the syndicated 'Millionaire' is still hard to get over. Maybe we should team up on the WSOPP and come up with some goofy team theme to get on the show.

Fletch said...

@ Mrs. Fletch - yes, I have many afflictions (partial color blindness, flat-footedness, being left-handed - I'm counting it, damnit), so I guess this helps make me feel better.

Wait. No it doesn't.

@ Tully - Welcome to the site. I think you're my new best friend.

Yeah, I had forgotten about her role in Herman's Head somehow (I'm not perfect). I used to like that show. I do know, however, that Yeardley Smith (sp) co-starred in it, and is the voice of Lisa Simpson, so I've got that going for me.

Congrats on the Jeopardy win! That's pretty sweet. I have yet to appear on any shows, though it sounds like your experience with Millionaire is the same as mine with WSOPP. Sadly, I don't think there will be another season of it. It was ideally suited to my talents...

Nick said...

Don't worry, Fletch, I'm the same way. I can't tell you anything vaguely important unless it's movie (or Harry Potter) related. I pride myself on being a walking six degrees of kevin bacon, and I say screw you to the people who accuse me of just using imdb! I will randomly sit around and play six degrees by myself (which proves I have no life, if nothing else does).

So... yeah.

Wait, I just compared you to me. Maybe you should worry.

Mrs. Thuro said...

When I saw I Molly's picture in your post, before reading a word, I started thinking "Where do I know I her from?" Then while reading the post, it dawned on me that she was in one episode of "Friends" for a few minutes.

I think it's a curse, b/c if I'm at the movie and this happens I will concentrate all of my effort on figuring out who the person is and where I've seen them before, instead of concentrating on the movie. And when I'm ready to rip my hair out, the movie finally ends and I rush home to check IMDB to put the mystery to rest, though it never really matters.

Dave said...

You have a gift for sure. I can't remember a name to save my life. It isn't just with movies or movie stars though. It is who I am; without imdb I would be lost in a sea of confusion wondering where that person looked familiar from. But not only am I bad at names, I am also one of the least observant people you will ever meet probably. When people ask me what color my eyes are I have to think about it for a couple minutes.

Use your gift if only to combat those annoying people out there who think they know something about movies when really they are all talk.

Robb said...

Some Kind Of Wonderful was my answer too. Just thinking about that movie made my day.

I spent most of Southland Tales frantically trying to remember where I knew Bai Ling from. I got stuck thinking it was "The Grudge", but later I broke down and cheated on imdb and realized it was one episode of "Lost".

My crazy skill is recognizing voices. I watch a bathroom deodorizer commercial and in turrets fashion I have to shout out "Bebe Neuwirth!" or "Christine Lahti!" or "Stockard Channing" or whomever it might be. Part of the reason I loved Jonathon on Survivor is because his voice is one step away from Alan Alda, and part of the reason the blonde kid is growing one me is because he is one step away from Owen Wilson.

WaywardJam said...

@Nick, Tully, Fletch, and Robb- As my wife would say, I have found my village! It amazes her to no end that that I can reconstruct entire scenes from other movies to explain where she might have seen some vaguely familiar minor actor on TV or in a movie. We play six degress when road-tripping. She has to have me toss out folks like 'Vanity to Amanda Detmer' just to make it interesting. Dang it, that's gonna bug me until I figure that one out!

It baffles her that I have little to no memory of my childhood or teenage years, but I had to make room for all this useless movie knowledge somewhere! Good to know I have a psuedo-fam like you, especially since I can't always remember my own.

Pat said...

Yes,you have a gift, my friend.

I have a touch of this myself - I don't remember names, but I recognize faces and can link them back to the other movies or TV shows where I've seen them before.

On the subject of "Seinfeld" references, it always amazes me when I catch the reruns to see how many of the actresses who played Jerry's girlfriends have since gone on to greater fame (Marcia Cross, Krisin Davis, Amanda Peet, Catherine Keener, Jennifer Coolidge - I'm sure you could name lots more.)

Tully Moxness said...

Without using IMDB, Vanity was in 52 Pick Up with Ann Margret who was in The Break Up with Jennifer Aniston who was in Picture Perfect with Kevin Bacon.

Amanda Detmer was in Big Fat Liar with Paul Giamatti who was in Singles with Kyra Sedgwick who's been in several flicks with her husband Kevin Bacon. (Giamatti's first movie was Singles; he basically got to make out with a girl in a coffee shop and then says, "WHAT?!?" when Campbell Scott and Kyra comment on their obnoxious tongue lopping).

I have no life!

WaywardJam said...

@tully - We are truly a special breed aren't we?! I didn't know Giamatti's first role was in Singles (never seen it).

I always find it fun to re-watch some old flick and realize a big name now was some no name waiter/bus patron back then! That really amps up the Six Degrees prowess.

Matt said...

It sounds the affliction is spreading!

I guess I have a strain of this as well. I'm not so great with names but I think I have pretty super visual memory for movies and I can remember sequences and dialog in films I haven't seen in many, many years.

I've been reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (I know, I'm late to the party) and I think this brand of movie expertise that we all seem to share is related to a similar wiring in our brains. Or maybe it's something in our diets.