There are many reasons to love Rush frontman and bassist Geddy Lee. The bespectacled musical whizz has always maintained an affable demeanour, and outside of the many creative heights he reached with bandmates Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, he likes to immerse himself in the art of others. Whether it be music, books or even stand-up comedians, Geddy Lee is a connoisseur of culture, making him one of the more fascinating rockstars. Offering a peek behind the curtain, he was even kind enough to name his favourite movies of the day and give a little account of why they are so good.
When speaking to Jam!Showbiz in January 2001, Lee picked four films well worth any cinema fan’s time. He first went for the Coen brother’s black comedy romp, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Loosely based on Homer’s epic Odyssey and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, and John Goodman, many deem this the directing duo’s best offering. A stellar confluence of music and film, these were two aspects that Geddy Lee praised greatly. However, he also criticised one famous aspect, saying some things are better off implied.
Describing himself as “a big Coen brothers fan”, the Rush man said of O Brother: “It is so great! The music is great. I am not a lover of musicals in any way, but I loved the way that movie is put together. I am a big Coen Brothers fan, anyway. It was beautiful. The only thing I didn’t like about the film was I thought it was clever when they picked the kid up, and you see the shot of the crossroads, and it is obvious what the scene is (a reference to legendary bluesman Robert Johnson). And then they had to say it! They didn’t need to say it. ‘Tommy Johnson’, and he was told to wait at the crossroads. It would have been hipper if they let the images tell it.”
The second movie Geddy Lee opted for is a bit more of a surprising one, but a thrill nonetheless, picking Ang Lee’s wuxia martial arts adventure, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Starring Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh – who has just enjoyed an Oscar-winning resurgence thanks to Everything Everywhere All at Once – Zhang Ziyi, and Chang Chen, the movie represents a pivotal moment in cinema.
Based on Wang Dulu’s Chinese novel of the same name, the flick grossed $128million in the United States, making it the highest-grossing foreign language film produced overseas in American history. Not done there, Crouching Tiger was also the first foreign language movie to surpass the $100million mark in the US. Of the adventure, Lee simply said: “I loved it”.
Geddy Lee then struck a different note. He revealed his love for the 2000 Christmas fantasy comedy Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A Jim Carrey classic, Lee disclosed that he took his daughter to watch it in the cinema twice, with them practising their Grinch impressions at home. After his account of the Dr. Seuss adaptation, the ‘Tom Sawyer’ singer asserted that fellow Canadian Carrey is a “great actor” before mentioning two of his other most cherished films. One of these, The Truman Show, he feels Carrey didn’t get enough plaudits for.
Lee said: “I liked The Grinch. I thought The Grinch was a fucking great film. I took my daughter to see it twice. We’re sitting at home practising our Grinch imitations. I think Jim Carrey is such a great actor. He needs to get more recognition. I thought he got ripped off for The Truman Show. It was just wrong that he didn’t get more accolades. Man On The Moon was great, but it was strange. It didn’t tell you anything about Andy Kaufman. It was an instant replay of his greatest hits.”
Geddy Lee’s favourite movies:
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (the Coen Brothers, 2000)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Ron Howard, 2000)
The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998)