At the Mountains of Movie Madness: Week Eight
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 Eight – Fishes Out of Water and Other Disgusting Things
The Life of David Gale (Alan Parker, 2003)
Recommended by Victoria Disque
I had a certain bias going into this film. Most of the movies I’ve watched for this marathon haven’t been critically adored, but this one stands out because of Roger Ebert’s zero-star review. I can safely report it’s not that bad. Alan Parker is such a strong director that he knows how to enunciate the small human moments between the characters. Those interactions work a lot more than a convoluted plot that would have been better without any of the twists. Also it needed far less Keyser Söze Kevin Spacey because that felt like a crutch for too much of the movie.
Counter-Recommendation: Into the Abyss
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Leonard Nimoy, 1986)
Recommended by Nikki Phipps
OK, I’ve tried to get into classic “Star Trek.” I’ve now seen the first four movies and the first handful of episodes. It’s way too sterile. These are people flying through space and saving the day through loyal heroics! Why are they spending so much time on protocol? It’s like the whole series is following a detailed rule book the audience hasn’t seen yet. That said, I really appreciate how this movie took the characters out of their comfort zone and into 1980s San Francisco. However, that still left plenty of flat humor and a tone that never allowed this silly plot to be … silly.
Counter-Recommendation: Galaxy Quest
Local Hero (Bill Forsyth, 1983)
Recommended by Miranda Huang
“Adorable” can often be used as a condescending word, but it can also be used to highlight precious elements. “Local Hero” is an adorable film in the latter sense. As an American travels to a small town in Scotland to try and buy up a village, he is won over. Forsyth captures the tone by having it feel like you walked into a modern-day fairy tale. Things that could be seen as magic are all things that could happen through the wonder of life. To me the best plotline was the one with Peter Capaldi (“In the Loop”) falling in love with a very talented swimmer. A very pleasant surprise.
Teeth (Mitchell Lichtenstein, 2007)
Recommended by Joe Shearer
This movie is infamous. Once the premise was released, everyone repositioned themselves in their chair out of discomfort. This is the tale about a girl and her … well … vagina dentata. However, nobody actually told me the movie is good! I was all set for a grindhouse sort of exploitation. It does go into revenge- / /horror-movie territory near the end, but for the most part it’s actually a good character study about a high schooler trying to be pure in a society that’s aggressively against that lifestyle. All of the acting is strong, and Lichtenstein strikes a great balance between the horror and the frustration. That said, it’s still horrifying.
Mac and Me (Stewart Raffill, 1988)
Recommended by Cameron Schimmel
Have you seen “E.T.”? You have? Crap. Do you remember it well? Double crap. Well, in case you hit your head really, really hard and forget all of Steven Spielberg’s filmography, as well as what is normal behavior at a McDonalds, have I got the movie for you! Actually, sorry, you’re still not ready yet. How is your vision? Can you see the screen pretty well? That’s not good; this movie works a lot better if you can’t see how unemotional and gross the aliens look in this. Well, after you hit your head and run out of contacts, you’re going to love this movie. Sorry, last thing: Do you know how wheelchairs and vaccum cleaners function? You know what? This isn’t worth the trouble. This is horrendous. Just go on with your life.
Counter-Recommendation: E.T. (Duh)
The Human Centipede II (Tom Six, 2011)
Recommended by Andrew Kamerud
Why? Why, why, why, why, why? I watched the first one when it came out on DVD and even reviewed it for the Yap. I said that once you got past the grossness of the premise (people sewn butt to mouth), it’s actually a really boring movie. Tom Six must not have liked that complaint, so he made a movie that is gross in every single frame. It’s too bad because he thought of a good format for a sequel by having someone be influenced by the first movie. However, the execution only leads to self-congratulatory ridiculousness that is never justified even if you try to have other characters say it’s vile. At this point, I really just feel for all of the actors who took this job.
Counter-Recommendation: Man Bites Dog
Next week I shall try to watch put on some Daisy Dukes, learn how to dance in Russian and try again to watch “Hello, Dolly!”
28 more to go…