At the Mountains of Movie Madness: Week Five
Last year, I took part in an experiment in recommendations. When a friend recommends something to me, I typically remember it, but I also get to it when I get to it. So I spent one month last year sampling every TV show people recommended to me. I found that to be a blast, so I’m stupid enough to do it again this summer, but this time with movies.
Since so many movies were recommended, I’m not going to be able to get this done in a month. Every Tuesday, I’ll write about which ones I’ve watched and what I thought about them. The only rule to the recommendation was that they had to pick a film I haven’t seen. Some used that to pick great movies they know I haven’t watched yet and some used that to pick movies that look so awful they know I wouldn’t watch it. Either way, I’m watching them now.
Week Five – Is This Real Life or Is It Fantasy? It’s Fantasy.
Inside Moves (Richard Donner, 1980)
This would make a great TV show. The movie very quickly sets up a nice batch of characters who are all crippled in different ways. The newest member of the group is Rory, a sad man who tried to kill himself by jumping out out a window. There isn’t too much plot; most of it is centered around the owner of the bar, Jerry. As much as I liked that, the best part is watching everyone operate as a group. This is rich material where everyone’s problems are taken seriously. I would watch this group operate on a weekly basis. You hear that FX?!
Counter-Recommendation: Wonder Boys
Someone Like You … (Tony Goldwyn, 2001)
Recommended by Kayla Eiler
If you ever needed an example of exactly what the romantic comedy formula is, it’s “Someone Like You.” There isn’t a single surprise in this movie. The results of the romantic triangle, Ashley Judd’s character’s job frustration and even every single emotional beat can be figured out before the credits are over. However, everyone is really charming in this movie, especially the spark that comes from Judd. I’m glad I watched this, but I will have forgotten most of the movie by the time I finish this paragraph. Ta da!
Counter-Recommendation: The Philadelphia Story
The Man From Earth (Richard Schenkman, 2007)
Now this is a really cool movie. It’s a very low-budget movie that is just a long conversation between a group of friends debating the movie’s core question. As John is preparing to move the next day, he reveals that he is a caveman that has never died. The rest of the film is finding out if he is telling the truth by looking at the anthropology of what a man who may have lived for 4,000 years would have lived through. There are plenty of clever answers throughout, but when the movie delves into religion, it tries to be more than just an average Joe. By doing that, it loses something intimate. Still, this is a great gem and a movie that I have never heard of before this recommendation. Thanks, Jim!
Counter-Recommendation: My Dinner With Andre
Paprika (Satoshi Kon, 2006)
Recommended by Cameron Schimmel
When I first saw “Inception,” I was really impressed but was surprised how straightforward the dreams were. It turns out that Cillian Murphy likes to dream about the nuances of business meetings, and that worked surprisingly well for a big budget action movie. “Paprika” is the flipside. There’s a device that allows people to access dreams, and the dreams are batshit crazy. Worlds and people meld together in pure creativity. Because of that, the plot is often very hard to follow, but visually, it’s very exciting. By the end, I think the film has too many themes and is only able to focus on a few of them.
Counter-Recommendation: Waking Life
Akira (Katsuhrio Ohtomo, 1988)
Recommended by Beau Thompson
This is the only film in my contest that I’m repeating. I saw this a long time ago and I couldn’t remember a thing about it besides not being able to follow the plot. This time, I watched it with my friend who recommended it, and he was able to help me out whenever I had a question, which was often. It’s weird to say that a film needs to be longer, but this was the case. For the first third, the film cuts too much between stories without any idea about what’s happening. It’s hard to follow as well because I can never understand how the characters respond to their world, especially Tetsuo’s madness. However, once all of the pieces are in place for the big epic conclusion, and Akira’s secret is revealed, I was completely caught up in the story.
Counter-Recommendation: Logan’s Run
Earth Girls Are Easy (Julien Temple, 1988)
Recommended by Jim Huang
This is a weird movie. It’s a musical in which three hairy aliens crash on Earth looking for babes. I buy that. It’s everything else about this that is just so insanely goofy. For one thing, Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis as sex symbols is something I could never fully comprehend. Then you watch the rest of the film through your hands as it darts out of its way to find the corniest line or cheesiest thing it could do. What makes it more awkward is that everyone is committed to this, especially Jim Carrey who actually does a good job. Michael McKean is supposed to be a pothead throughout the film, and I can’t tell you if he did a good job or not. This is a failure of a movie, but I could never turn it off.
Counter-Recommendation: Reefer Madness: The Musical
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (Julien Nitzberg, 2009)
Last week during my vacation, I watched the documentary about GG Allin, the insane punk singer who would defecate on stage and beat his face in with a microphone. The documentary showcased his irregular lifestyle, and I was worried that it was exploiting a crazy man. It never was because this was always exactly what GG wanted to be shown. That is even more of the case with the Whites. Produced by the guys behind “Jackass,” this is the most redneck family you will ever see. The reason why they are so entertaining is because in addition to being as dumb as dumb can be, they all have a weird quirk. There is more tap dancing in this film than you would expect. I laughed until it stopped being funny. Often, it felt like a bad reality show that would further encourage awful behavior, but this family has crafted a sturdy beer bubble around them that this film won’t change. Oh, boy.
Next week I’ll investigate the Klan, get lost in Brazil and maybe watch “Lenny.” Maybe.