Friday, March 8, 2013
You say you've already finished the whole season of House of Cards? How about watching these instead?
Return to Paradise (1998; dir. Joseph Ruben) I really liked Return to Paradise when I saw it 15 years ago, and I was relieved that it still holds up. The movie features a GREAT dramatic performance from Vince Vaughn, which interestingly plays against his screen persona of the loudmouth asshole who can do/say anything with no consequences. It's weird that this came out in 1998, because this is the movie Vaughn should be doing in 2013. It puts a mirror up to his screen persona in the same way Punch-Drunk Love did for Adam Sandler. The only downside to Return to Paradise is that it has some of the worst character names in movie history, including Sheriff, Beth Eastern and M.J. Major. F those names!
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970; dir. Don Siegel) See one of the movies featured in this week’s Heath Holland On…! A fun western with Clint Eastwood as the squinty, grumpy (Dopey, Bashful, Sleepy, and Doc) mercenary type he’s played over and over again, this time opposite Shirley MacLaine as a foul mouthed, hard drinking nun. I know what you’re thinking: aren’t all nuns foul mouthed and hard drinking? This is a fun one.
High Anxiety (1977; dir. Mel Brooks) While not one of Brooks's best films (I would call that a three-way tie between The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, and Young Frankenstein) this Hitchcock homage certainly has its moments. Although Harvey Korman and Chloris Leachman are so over the top in this one, they seem to be in a different movie (or a dirty Carol Burnett Show sketch), Brooks proves for the first time that he could play the lead (he even sings the title song in a Sinatra homage), Howard Morris is hilarious as Professor Lilloman (say it out loud),and some of the individual parody scenes are quite funny. Every semester in my Film Studies class, we analyze the famous shower scene in Psycho shot-for-shot. I always end that class period by showing Brooks's version of the shower scene from High Anxiety. My students find it HI-LARIOUS. Look out for future director Barry Levinson as a crazy bellhop; he was one of the film's co-writers.
Sleepless Night (dir. Frederic Jardin; 2011) I'm a sucker for thrillers, and this one has all kinds of twists and turns as we follow Vincent, a cop who was trying to earn a few extra bucks on the side, get caught up with shady underworld elements who need to know where 1) the money is, 2) where the drugs are, 3) or else. Frederic Jardin both wrote and directed this French language flick starring Tomer Sisley, who was in The Nativity Story, along with some decent French fare like The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch, although I like Sleepless Night better.
The Conversation (1974; dir: Francis Ford Coppola) You guys have seen The Conversation, right? You know, the masterpiece he made in between two of his other masterpieces (The Godfather and The Godfather Part II). And all three made right before his masterpiece Apocalypse Now. And all four made before... Jack.
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012; dir. John Hyams) For anyone who wants more of an art film in their science fiction/action movie, John Hyams combines Roland Emmerich with David Lynch. The results can be slow, nightmarish and completely awesome. Worth watching just for the fight in the sporting goods store. You'll know it when you see it. I'm already on record as loving this.