I love movies.
My DVD collection overrunneth all attempts to organize it, I spend a lot of time watching movie channels on TV, and I make regular visits to my local film theater (a resurrected Art Deco movie house with an additional Googleplex just a brisk walk from my home) because I love movies so much.
Yes, I have a taste for bad movies. They’re no end of fun. I also love Great Films. Casablanca and Citizen Kane get watched pretty regularly at Casa Twistie, along with quite a few other classics.
And then there are the hidden gems. You know. Those films that came and went in a week that nobody you know saw, but that you cannot live without now that you’ve seen them.
I’d like to share of a couple of my favorite gems with you.
The first is for either German speakers or fans of subtitles, but it’s well worth the trouble if you can get past having to read the film at the same time you’re watching it. It’s a quirky comedy called Good-Bye, Lenin! which tells the story of Alex. Alex grew up in East Germany, raised by his mother, a true believer in The Party. When Alex’s mother suffers a heart attack and slips into a coma for eight months of 1989, she has no clue that the Berlin Wall has fallen. Her doctors tell Alex that any shock might bring on another heart attack, so he does what any loving son would do: he creates an elaborate fantasy for his mother that Germany is still divided, that the Decadent West is still on the other side of the wall, and that this will always be.
The charm of this film lies in the very real relationship between mother and son, and the loyal group of friends who do their best to help Alex keep the fantasy in place. Twistie recommends this one highly. Order it from Amazon.com, put it in your Netflix queue, find it where you can.
Not up for subtitles? Like mimics? In that case, you might do worse than try out Little Voice. Shy, nervous LV (Jane Horrocks) lives under the thumb of her overbearing mother (played by Brenda Blethyn). When the mother takes up with a seedy, two-bit theatrical agent (Michael Caine) he discovers LV’s hidden talent: she’s a world class impressionist. He tries to make a star of her. When the film came out, they had to run a disclaimer in the credits to the effect that Miss Horrocks did all those voices herself because test audiences assumed that she was lip-synching.
Add in brilliant performances by Jim Broadbent, Ewan McGregor, and Phillip Jackson, pigeons, and some of the world’s worst variety acts and you’ve got a winner. Again, Twistie recommends highly.
Looking for the perfect second feature to show with Harold and Maude? Look no further than Wilby Wonderful. Why? Because along with Harold and Maude, it’s a feel-good film about suicide. Yeah, kind of a difficult balancing act to pull off, but this one does it with panache. The cast is a Who’s Who of modern Canadian film and television actors: Paul Gross, Callum Keith Rennie, Sandra Oh, Ellen Page, Maury Chaykin, Rebecca Jenkins, Daniel McIvor (who also directed).
In the small Canadian town of Wilby, a single day leads to huge changes for a group of residents whose lives intertwine in ways small and large. I really can’t tell you a lot more without ruining it for you, but trust me, this is a delightful film full of warmth and charm unsullied by cloying sentimentality.
What about the rest of you? Do you have a film you love that nobody’s ever heard of? Tell us about it!