11
Jan
07

If There’s A Cure For This…

weboy here… If there’s one thing I am, it’s a movie buff. I fell in love with the movies when I was in junior high – my Mom signed the family (me, Mom and my sister) up for a Faye in Networkfilm series at The Walters Art Gallery. They were classics from the thirties and forties (Top Hat comes to mind). I was hooked.

I bring this up because Red asked me when she signed up for NetFlix (to which I do not subscribe – I’m a buyer, not a renter… in movies, anyway), if I could make some recommendations. I am actually horrible at this. People ask me what movies I like best, and I blank. Mostly I like what I’ve just seen, and I forget everything I’ve ever seen… or ever loved.

Still, Red is a friend, and I put a little effort into thinking about what I’d recommend. I’m going to do this in small batches, so expect 2 or 3 more of these. AND PLEASE – if you have suggestions… please pass them along. Without further ado – my recommendations:

  1. Network (1976) – One of my all time favorites – Paddy Chayefsky wrote a searing indictment of television that holds up even now, finding the intersection of profit, money, news as entertainment and “reality” as a package. It reminds us that power corrupts and how much of what we value we can give away. And it has Oscar winning performances from Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway, in one of her best roles ever. It also gave us “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” – and even that seems still relevant to our crazy times.
  2. Nashville (1975)/Gosford Park (2001)/Short Cuts (1993) – Have a Robert Altman film festival. I could pick several others (MASH, the dark foundation for the – lighter – series; The Player, which I think is overrated; or Cookie’s Fortune, a charming southern slice o’ life), but these I like best. Nashville is an examination of the forces and people around country music, and the most remarkable element is the music, songs which are country and witty without being disrespectful (“I’m Easy” was a hit from it). Gosford Park is a rich British upstairs/downstairs comedy of class and manners with a tasty mystery as dessert, and a host of brilliant performers (Helen Mirren, Kristen Scott Thomas, Clive Owen, Maggie Smith… and many more). Short Cuts, based on Raymond Carver’s stories, is said to be one of Altman’s best. I haven’t seen it, but that’s how safe I feel in knowing Altman that I’d recommend it (and I’d love to come over and watch). 🙂
  3. LA Confidential (1997) – Robbed of its Best Picture Oscar (is that an iceberg I see before me), LA Confidential still stands as the best adaptation of James Ellroy onscreen. (Were I brave, or less sure of Red’s tastes, I’d recommend The Black Dahlia, too.) Ellroy’s hardboiled, dark vision of fifties-era LA is masterfully captured here by Curtis Hansen, while Brian Helgeland’s screenplay crackles with terrific “only in the movies” dialogue. Indeed, the film is an homage to film itself as much as it is to film noir. Kim Basinger is a revelation as the hard bitten call girl who resembles Veronica Lake (hookers and nuns, surefire Oscar bait), while Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe made their careers as two rookie detectives caught in a web of lies and police corruption. But the big surprise for me was Kevin Spacey as the world-weary detective who’s gone Hollywood; I haven’t seen him nail such an unself-conscious performance so completely before or since.
  4. Prizzi’s Honor (1985) – Mob movies come in many shapes, sizes and flavors… but none quite so elegant and quietly humorous as this one, a Mr. and Mrs. Smith from before Brad and Angelina ever got started. Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner match each other shot for shot as the hit people who fall in love; but it’s Anjelica Huston, working with her father, director John Huston, who steals the film with her subtle mafia princess performance. An eighties gem.
  5. June Bride (1948) – It’s tempting to think that Hollywood didn’t “get” career women until recently, or that all postwar films were cheery tales on the joys of marrying (Father of the Bride) and having kids. Not so, as this bright comedy proves, a vehicle for a top-form Bette Davis, as a Martha Stewart like Women’s Magazine editor. Faced with doing her “June Bride” issue in the winter, she recruits a former boyfriend turned war correspondent to write the piece (Robert Montgomery). As the jaded New York staff descends on small-town Indiana, madcap antics ensue, the wedding is nearly ruined, and romance wins over all. With loads of subtle, “city mouse vs. country mouse” humor, and a warm rapport between Davis and Montgomery, June Bride is a pleasant surprise that holds up amazingly well.

I think that’s it for now – as you can see, I tried to span genres and time periods. Again, please add your thoughts and suggestions…

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1 Response to “If There’s A Cure For This…”


  1. 1 Amy
    January 12, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Because my long term memory is shot to hell, I can tell you that the movies I can recall loving, despite potential embarassment, are: In the Company of Men, The Butterfly Effect, Lucas, When Harry Met Sally, Mrs. Doubtfire, Cape Fear, Awakenings, The Accused, Sixteen Candles, Philadelphia, Clueless, Listen To Me, Stealing Home. As you can see, its been a while since I have been really moved by a movie, but I should mention that it takes alot. Hence the prediliction towards 80s dramas and comedies that don’t have to work too hard. Movies in the theater actually torture me – I hate the smell of popcorn and I need to multitask – I am to ADD for darkness and a big screen….


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