Friday, March 22, 2013
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 18
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982; dir. Nicholas Meyer) With Star Trek: Into Darkness due in theaters in less than two short months, what better time to revisit the first Star Trek sequel? Considered by many to be the greatest of the Star Trek films, this was the first time Nicholas Meyer directed for the franchise and marked a noticeable improvement from Star Trek: The Motion Picture by bringing significant nautical and Shakespearean influences to the series. For even more fun, watch it and then listen to the 100th episode podcast, recorded after the first F This Movie! Fest, where the gang live tweeted during the film. You’d be out of your Vulcan mind not to love it.
The Long Goodbye (1973; dir. Robert Altman) Oh, the cynicism and darkness that pervades every frame of this wonderful film. Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, Brewster McCloud, Nashville, Short Cuts) takes on the dark, Hollywood-noir world of Raymond Chandler and gives his own unique spin on the myth of the hard-boiled detective. The dialogue is crackling good; the screenplay was by Leigh Brackett, the old-school scribe responsible for making The Empire Strikes Back the best installment of the Star Wars trilogy. Featuring Eliot Gould in a career-defining performance and a great supporting cast: Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, baseball player and author Jim Bouton, Altman regular Henry Gibson, and Mark Rydell as one of the slimiest villains ever. “Nothing says goodbye like a bullet.”
Primer (2004; dir. Shane Carruth) One of the main criticisms about time travel movies is that they always explain the time travel, but never the ramifications (meeting your past self, etc.). And you know what? They don't have to, because movies are primarily for art/entertainment, and time travel is just as useful a narrative device as anything else (most eloquently explained by Chuck Klosterman in his essay about time travel movies, called "Tomorrow Rarely Knows." DON'T READ IT YET). Primer, as far as I know, is the only movie that tries to illustrate the problematic consequences that time travel would bring. If you're a science fiction fan, or you don't mind watching movies which need multiple views, then Primer is the treat for you. Like most layered movies, there's a lot written about this movie; leave that to the side until you've watched it.
Panic (2000; dir. Henry Bromell) I was THIS close to making this my Netflix choice in last week's column, but I didn't. And then the writer/director, Henry Bromell, died suddenly this week. So AREN'T I THE ASSHOLE? There are so many hitman movies, but this one is really great -- a black comedy/drama about middle age, death, fathers and sons. William H. Macy is the best, because no duh. Donald Sutherland is also great. Also, John Ritter. And Neve Campbell, too. Who knew? Pay tribute to a filmmaker who never quite got his due by watching this excellent, underrated movie.