Film The film I originally chose for 1992 was Like Water for Chocolate, Alfonso Arau's magical realist, culinary take on Romeo and Juliet based on Laura Esquivel's 1989 novel. I've always said that watching Like Water For Chocolate on the night it was released in the UK was the moment when I knew that my life long romance would be with the cinema. It was at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds in a sold out performance. I was so wrapped up in the film and its love story that I began shouting at the characters on screen so loudly, the person sitting next to me got angry and told me to sush (which of course they were right to). This is something which hadn't happened before. It taught me that cinema has the power to transport, and a hundred moments of laughter and tears since have confirmed it.
Except although the film is dated 1992 on the imdb, it wasn't released until late 1993 in the UK and Groundhog Day has well and truly absorbed that slot. Perhaps my second choice would have been A Few Good Men but one of the rules of this list is that I'm only allowing myself one film per director and I don't think I'm spoiling anything to say that a Rob Reiner film is already upcoming. Peter's Friends is nullified due to an earlier Brannagh. Almost Famous invalidates Singles for Cameron Crowe. There's Sneakers, I suppose, but my favourite Phil Alden Robinson is really Field of Dreams and that can't appear either because of the aforementioned Reiner opus. Reservoir Dogs almost made the list, but again Jackie Brown's my Tarantino of choice and there went Contact (with Pulp Fiction's potential place taken by Love and Other Catastrophes in this oh so personal list). My Disney allowance went to The Lion King so out goes Aladdin.
All of which route talk looks like an apologia for Toys, because it's Toys, but it really shouldn't. I love Barry Levinson's Toys. But more than that I love the Toys soundtrack which I may well have heard before seeing the film, during a visit to a friends house. He told it was the only cd he and an acquaintance had during a car ride across the States and how must that have gone as they piled through the desert accompanied by Enya's Ebudae? But my memory is foggy about the chronology because we actually watched Toys on a VHS hired from the video shop on Lark Lane in Liverpool at around the same time. Whatever. The point is, of all the soundtracks I've owned, apart from Lost in Translation, Transformers: The Movie, Queen's Logic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, St. Elmo's Fire, Ten Things I Hate About You, Guardians of the Galaxy and Singles (amongst others), it's Toys which I know inside out and back to front.
Frankly there's nothing more 1992 (in this context) than a soundtrack which front lines Tori Amos, Wendy & Lisa, Grace Jones and Enya not that any of them had much creative control other than their vocals with Hans Zimmer and Trevor Horn & Bruce Woolley (The Buggles no less) on lyrics and music. But the results are magnificent, Tori, in the year of the deadly personal Little Earthquakes providing a vocal on a multi-track, militaristic satire on how capitalism has co-opted very communist approaches to worker loyalty, The Buggles parodying their old MTV schtick in The Mirror Song and the penultimate track is a Grace Jones Christmas song nonetheless (and probably Eurovision entry) Let Joy and Innocence Prevail, with its mesmerising spoken word bridge, "And one night, asleep / She dreamed she saw her husband fall / In a great white cavalry charge / And waking in tears / She saw the candle burning in the window / She still had hope." Sob.
I joke, but yes, sob. But most especially, sob, in the final track, that damned final track and the second because that's when it first appears. I've posted The Closing of the Year on the blog a few times during the festive period, as it appears in the closing moments of the film. It beats me every time. Every time. I'm listening as I type this and there are tears in my eyes. How do I explain it? Some of it is to do with it being the most Christmassy of tracks, tubular bells jangling through it, the insistent rhythms of the reindeer hooves pounding through snow. But it's mostly the lyrics. "If I cannot bring you comfort / then at least I bring you hope / for nothing is more precious / than the time we have and so / we all must learn from small misfortune / count the blessings that are real / let the bells ring out for Christmas / at the closing of the year." Even just reading that has just led to a water droplet escaping my eye socket in a desperate attempt to get away from the soggy nostalgia of my brain.
Why can't Wendy and Lisa and the children's choir (and eventually Seal) (yes, him too) singing with them bring hope but not comfort? When I first bought my own copy, from a charity shop in Headingley while I was at University, I thought that lyric was "home" which only made it worse, especially in that moment when I was at my most homesick. As you might imagine, either way at this moment, it's simply heartbreaking. Do you have many songs like this which are essentially automatic cries? Nizpoli's another one as I've previously discussed. A recent BBC Four compilation about one hit wonders dropped an acoustic version of that in at the end like a final assault and I was inconsolable. But I can listen to The Closing of the Year. I want to listen to it because I want to be reminded of those lyrics. Is it because I want to be reminded that I have emotions? Oh here we go again. Perhaps I should have stuck with Like Water For Chocolate. After all.