Alright, so in the previous post I somewhat circuitously got around to explaining how keeping up with my friends has resulted in my being exposed to movies I would not otherwise have seen. That was only half the fun. I’d like to share with you some films we’ve watched over the past few months along with absolutely ironclad reasons why you too should watch them.
Elevator to the Gallows was our first film and an absolutely fantastic film. You can hardly go wrong starting with a Criterion restored flick. The first film from the director of My Dinner with Andre and Au revior, les enfants, it is the story of a successful businessman who plots to kill his boss—and love’s husband—and the series of circumstances that follow. It is somewhere between film noir and New Modern and features an unexpectedly spectacular score.
One of my own picks—though I’d never seen it—and one I was unlike to watch on my own. I first heard of Ordinary People from Martin Starr’s character on Party Down. There should be no mistake, this is one amazing downer of a flick and it is as likely as anything else in your life to drive you to nihilism. It features perhaps one of the worst mother’s this side of Baby Jane and plenty of early influence of contemporary mumblecore. All that said, it is a very powerful movie and for my money, a film that everyone in their late twenties out to watch.
Chosen by my lady and promoted to the group as “The Crucible with lesbians’” The Children’s Hour tells of the witchhunt that ensues when spurious rumors against a grade school teacher’s sexuality earn her the ire of the community. A good deal more follows after that, as well. Chelsea chose this flick for us because so many of Hepburn’s films have fallen by the wayside in modern consciousness and, as she said, we far too often do not get to see her talent on the silver screen. Acting along side Shirley MacLaine, she was quite right. Hepburn had chops.
Dark Star was my friend Walter’s pick and I can only assume he was trying to play his (and his lady’s) love of camp against my affinity for sf. This was another film with which we were all unfamiliar and we went into it unaware that it was meant to be a comedy. Even so, it is often funny unintentionally, features a scene of inter-species sexual assault, more ’70s hair that you’ll know what to do with, and the best space surfing ever seen. This was John Carpenter's first film, evidently written and rewritten during the course of his adolescence.
Another of my picks, though in this case I had previously seen the movie. I love recommending The Man from Earth to people because though the acting is very strained and the entire action takes place in the living room of a remote cabin, it is great fodder for conversation. The story depicts a man who has survived 14,000 years revealing to his latest group of colleagues and friends his hallowed past. My group is pretty evenly split between religious and non-religious folks and when you see the film, you’ll recognize immediately why that is significant as well as just one of the many discussion topics this high concept film evokes.
Did you know there was a made for TV Star Wars Holiday Special? Well, I did, but for reasons that are perhaps quite obvious I never sought it out. Why? Ok, well, I don’t care for variety shows. Doesn’t much matter that I never sought it out, as it has never been released for purchase. It only ever aired once and with good reason, though we can thank or lucky stars—or maybe Satan—that someone out there got the whole thing down on … I wanna say Betamax?
The TV special opens with Han and Chewy before quickly moving to a scene featuring Chewy’s family utterly devoid of subtitles that culminates in what I can only imagine must have been the Wookie grandfather’s orgasmic to his Life Day gift. Confused yet? It won’t get any better. Honestly, never watch this movie. Even the RiffTrax version was virtually unwatchable and we bailed about half way through. Lots of good jokes, sure, but almost all of it gallows humor. You know, the jokes you tell your similarly scarred war buddies.
LATE BONUS ADDITION:
Another of Jenn’s favorites, this movie is beyond ridiculous in so very many ways. Part of a slew of gang flicks from the ’70s, Swtichblade Sisters is what happens when you drop politics and court intrigue into the middle of modern day Detroit. If you like Tarantino’s obsession with grindhouse, check this one out. I can’t stand the guy—not since Kill Bill, at least—but it’s a ton of fun to watch with a group of friends.