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In Which Twistie Shares Some Obscure Films She Loves | Manolo for the Big Girl

In Which Twistie Shares Some Obscure Films She Loves

I love movies. I love some true masterpieces, some of questionable taste, some for their quaint awfulness. One of my favorite things is finding some jewel of an obscure film that’s all the more precious because nobody else on the face of the planet seems to know it exists.

But never let it be said that I’m stingy when it comes to sharing the cultural wealth! Today, I’m sharing with you all a smattering of the obscure, the offbeat, and the nearly unknown films that make me smile.

Highway 61 is the tale of Corky, a small town Canandian barber, who sets off on a mission to deliver a coffin to New Orleans. If that weren’t enough, a man who may or may not be the Devil is hot on the trail of Corky and the roadie whose brother is purportedly in the coffin. It’s ridiculous, surreal, and completely bizarre. Don McKellar as Corky (he also wrote the script) is gloriously lost most of the time. You will never look at bingo or chicken dinners quite the same way again.

Watch for a cameo by Jello Biafra as an American border guard. This scene alone is worth the price of admission for me!

Bottle Shock is based on a true story that I remember, because I lived in California Wine Country at the time. Back in 1976, a blind taste testing of wines, California (specifically Napa County) vs French took place in France… and California won. I was fourteen and had never had a single sip of wine in my life, but I, too, nearly burst with pride. Sure, it was Napa and I lived in Sonoma County (which also produces some pretty drinkable wines), but the important part wasn’t that: it was that we beat the French at their own game, on their own soil, using their own tastebuds.

More than thirty years later, a charming and quirky film based on the story was made, starring Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Dennis Farina, Eliza Dushku, and a host of other talented and pleasant to view people. Add in a soundtrack composed mostly of vintage Doobie Brothers music, and we’re talking about a darn good time. You don’t even have to care about wine to enjoy it… but it helps if you do or if you know something about life in California at that point in time. I got mighty nostalgic just looking at the cars.

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is… perhaps not as artistically worthy as the others mentioned thus far, but I never promised these would all be good. I only said I love them. Still, how can I not love a film that sets Jesus down in the middle of Canada facing off against vampires with the help of his sidekick, Mary Magnum, and some pretty cheesetastic Kung Fu moves? And then there’s the Godburger.

This one is sick, offensive on levels I cannot begin to contemplate, and done on a budget that would have made Ed Wood blanch. It’s also hilarious, hip, cartoonishly gory, and willing to laugh at itself as hard as it does at everything else.

And in honor of the late, great Davy Jones, I cannot finish this list without mentioning Head, the only film The Monkees did, and the only project where they had complete artistic control.

The result is… fascinating as Mr. Spock would say. Also fascinating is the fact that I think Leonard Nimoy was one of about four famous people at the time who didn’t appear in this film. How often to you get to see Victor Mature, Annette Funicello, and Frank Zappa in the same movie? To the best of my knowledge, this is the only one they were all in. It’s also a gloriously absurd exploration of control, power, anarchy, and desire that I doubt their handlers understood at all.

Oh, and there are some darn good tunes in it, too.

How about all of you? Have you got a little known gem of a film you want to tell us about? Please! Share with the class!

13 Responses to “In Which Twistie Shares Some Obscure Films She Loves”

  1. dr nic March 11, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    I’m a fan of Kinky Boots, a highly fictionalized account of a shoe company in England that managed to save itself from utter ruin by basically selling shoes to drag queens. It features Chiwetel Ejiofor (know to sic-fi geeks as the Operative in Serenity) as a drag queen named Lola and entire the movie is an homage to well made shoes.

    It also features a really nice story about tolerance (drag queen plus working class men in England = culture clash). And as my husband just commented – it shows that all women’s fashion needs is some good engineering.

  2. SoRefined March 11, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    I haven’t seen Highway 61 Revisited, but I’ve seen the other three movies Twistie mentions. They’re all quite good in their own ways.

    I’d like to throw a few titles on the cultural pile.

    1. Circle of Iron. Bruce Lee came up with the story, but passed away before it could be filmed. Basically, it’s a young martial arts guy on a quest. Eli Wallach has a cameo as a guy in a pot of oil. Christopher Lee and Roddy McDowall also show up, and David Carradine plays four roles. This film is… something.

    2. The President’s Analyst. James Coburn plays the title role. He’s basically driven crzy by not being able to discuss with anyone what the President’s problems are. There is both farce and satire happening here, with some sci fi, psychedelics, and dystopia-lite thrown in.

    3. Idi i Smotri (Come and See). This is a Soviet film made in the 80s about Nazi atrocities in Belarus. The depiction of German soldiers in American films seems downright gentle in comparison to their portrayal in this film, which in the, “this is amazing but I will never watch it again” group for me.

    4. Dick. A comedy about Watergate with Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as Deep Throat, Dan Hedaya as Nixon, Harry Shearer as G Gordon Liddy and Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch as Woodward and Bernstein. So much to love here. You guys, Michelle Williams sings Olivia Newton John’s “I Honestly Love You” on a tape to Nixon.

    5. Gates of Heaven. Errol Morris’s first film, about pets and the industry around pet owner grief–pet cemeteries, embalmers, etc. Even as a beginning filmmaker, Morris could really *do* a documentary.

    6. The Long Goodbye. Robert Altman directs. Elliott Gould stars as Phillip Marlowe. The novel is moved from the 50s to the 1970s. Sterling Hayden plays a Hemingway like character. Arnold Schwarzenegger can be found stripped down to his skivvies. Everyone in this film is doing great work.

    7. The Killing. Speaking of Sterling Hayden, he stars. An early Stanley Kubrick film, a heist film involving a racetrack. To say more would give too much away.

    I could actually go on and on and on, but will stop there.

  3. Wendy March 11, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    OK, first of all Don McKellar is a relative of mine! His mother and mine are a degree of cousins, though I don’t think it’s first cousins. There are degrees and removes involved. Nonetheless, Familial Pride!

    If you like Alan Rickman, you might also enjoy Blow Dry, which is about a British hairdressing competition that takes place in Keighley, Yorkshire (pronounced “Keithley”). There is family conflict, competition, sneakiness, a funeral home, a young-lovers subplot, high comedy, and Alan Rickman being brilliant. A bit like Kinky Boots (mentioned above), but with hairdressing instead of cobbling.

  4. Liz March 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    – Brick. It’s a modern film noir set in a California high school. It also has little homages to 1970s thrillers. Apart from the occasional tendency of the characters to mumble, it’s brilliant.

    – Yossi and Jagger. An Israeli love story. It’s lovely – and only an hour long.

  5. Liz March 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    Some more:

    Intermission: Probably the best Irish film of recent years.

    Katyn: Great film about the Soviet massacre of 10,000 Polish POWs in WW2. Utterly devastating.

    The Proposition. Australian Western. Chilling.

    A Very Long Engagement – A French love story, set around WWI and its aftermath.

    Meek’s Cutoff. A slow moving Western about people trying to cross the middle of what’s now middle America in the mid 1800s.

  6. Cone March 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    I also love Kinky Boots! Waking Ned Devine was also pretty fantastic. New Waterford Girl is definitely worth watching.

  7. Alynda March 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    I also liked “kinky Boots” and I think I’ve seen all or most of “Blow Dry” because I love me some Alan Rickman. Although of the genre I kind of prefer “The Big Tease” by Craig Ferguson. I do love those quirky UK films. My goofy, I must see it because it makes me smile movie is Baz Luhrmans’s first movie: “Strictly Ballroom”. Those crazy costumes and makeup! A love story, with dancing! Gypsies! The Paso Double! What more could you want?

  8. KESW March 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Does “That Thing You Do!” count as obscure? Because I love that movie… so much. I really have got to see the Monkees movie.

  9. ZaftigWendy March 12, 2012 at 3:22 am #

    I second the recommendation for “Blow Dry!” And I also, like Alynda, love Craig Ferguson’s “The Big Tease.”

    Of course, as a former hairdresser, I’m a bit biased…

  10. bushpiglet March 12, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Brain Dead a gross out horror and Meet the Feebles which is a muppet movie on acid. Both by the insanely talented Peter Jackson. Another of his I love is Heavenly Creatures with Kate Winslett.

  11. bushpiglet March 12, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    And forgot Wolf Creek an absolutely bloody brilliant Aussie horror. Forget Paranormal Activity this movie will scare the bejesus out of ya! Or you could just do what I did and fast forward through the scary bits.

  12. Leah March 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Everlasting Piece – Irish & funny

  13. Kathleen O'Brien March 13, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    I’m all about wearing my “Kinky Boot” “Strictly Ballroom” – where or (wear) else?? It’s all about the shoes.