I believe I may have once or twice mentioned that I have a great fondness for movies, both good and bad. And since I’m feeling in a movie kind of mood, I thought I would suggest a few for your various viewing pleasure and a brief, terrifying glimpse into my psyche. If you have any other good views to suggest, go to it in comments. I always enjoy hearing about things I may have missed while I was saving up to visit the popcorn stand.
Grosse Point Blank. Seriously. It’s got John and Joan Cusack, Minnie Driver, Hank Azaria, Dan Ackroyd, Alan Arkin, a broad selection of killer eighties music, and the world’s most difficult high school reunion. After all, what does a hit man say when you ask him how he’s been for the past ten years? Apparently “I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How about you?” Watching this film reminds me that there are people who want to revisit their high school past even less than I do.
Lars and the Real Girl. Real Girls are real. They’re anatomically correct… companion figures. If you want to look it up, well, find the link yourself. And turn off the sound on your computer if anyone might hear. Really.
But the film starring Ryan Gosling in a tour de force performance is something well worth both seeing and hearing. It’s an odd, wistful, gentle film overflowing with compassion for those who just can’t seem to find a place in the world. It’s not at all what one would expect of a film about a man’s relationship with his plastic fantastic lover… but it’s very, very right. Plus it features the always fabulous Patricia Clarkson, one of my favorite performers ever. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Just be sure to have a hanky at the ready for the tears of just plain rightness.
One, Two, Three. If Lars and the Real Girl is one of the gentlest films of all time, One, Two, Three is one of the most frenetic since the Marx Brothers made Duck Soup! It also happens to be the great James Cagney’s last film. It’s a very dated piece, set as it was at the beginning of the Cold War in West Berlin… back when Berlin was two cities on the front lines of the philosophical battle younger readers may have learned about in their history books. Me? I was born into it, grew up in it, and understand the context. The rest of you, ask your parents or grandparents.
But even if you don’t entirely get the politics, this is a hilarious film including a wayward heiress, the scruffy young communist she loves, and Cagney as a Coca-Cola executive juggling a wife and kids, a mistress, and the infiltrations of both communism and Pepsi. The whole thing happens at a breakneck pace, and ends with a smile. Search it out and have a few giggles. You’ll be glad you did.
Heavenly Creatures. Well before he gave us a gorgeous interpretation of Middle Earth, Peter Jackson made this dark, twisted, haunting interpretation of one of the most infamous true crimes in New Zealand history. On June 22, 1954, Pauline Parker and her friend Juliet Hulme murdered Pauline’s mother, Honora Rieper, with a half a brick tied into a stocking. The film is surprisingly true to events as chronicled in Pauline’s diary, and is also important as the screen debut of a seventeen-year-old Kate Winslet as Juliet. The fantasy sequences foreshadow some of the brilliant visuals of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, too.
Oh, and an interesting side note: Juliet Hulme now goes by the name Anne Perry… one that should be familiar to many readers of mystery novels. She has, however, never killed another person. I think that’s a good thing, don’t you?
Inherit the Wind. Spencer Tracy had many great roles in his long screen career, but this remains my personal favorite. The film based on the play based on the Scopes Monkey Trial is a powerful piece of drama and a passionate plea for the free exercise of human intellect. It also happens to feature brilliant performances not only by Tracy, but also: Frederic March, Gene Kelly, Dick York, and a host of other familiar faces.
This is a film full of wit, humor, pathos, generosity, fierce advocacy, and all the best the human spirit has to offer. It also showcases fear, pettiness, casual cruelty, and determined ignorance, but with pity. It’s a film to make you weep for the human condition, and then get up and fight to improve it.
What more can you ask of a single film?