Friday, May 24, 2013
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 27
Fish Tank (2009, dir. Andrea Arnold) Whenever I talk to someone who loves movies but claims there's nothing good to see, I always think that they're not being adventurous enough. These people will never discover a movie like Fish Tank for themselves, which is a real damn shame. Lesson being -- look at the independent/art-house/rep theaters when there's nothing at the 30-plex that you want to see. There are some masterpieces out there. Fish Tank is one of those. It was in my top five from 2010 and features incredible acting from Michael Fassbender and Katie Jarvis (who really needs to be in another movie, it will break my heart if this is a one and done). It's a rough character study about a defiant teenage girl in working-class neighborhood who is constantly exploited by the adults in her life and whose only saving grace is an escape in hip-hop dancing. The movie is alive in ways that most movies aren't -- every scene matters, and it's a testament to how strong the directing and performances are that anyone watching this movie can identify with such a challenging (and at times unsympathetic) lead character. This is a great, great movie.
Man on the Moon (1999, dir. Milos Forman) If you need another Gatsby fix, this biopic of the late Andy Kaufman has you covered. Milos Forman makes a lot of the mistakes other film biographies make. The film moves too quickly and sentimentalizes too much. But Kaufman's story is fascinating, and Jim Carrey gives a solid performance. He and Forman understand not only the comedian but his obsession with dismantling the fourth wall onstage, onscreen, and in his personal life.
Foxy Brown (1974, dir. Jack Hill) Pam Grier is one of the coolest, sexiest women on the planet, and Foxy Brown is one hell of a ride. Jack Hill knows his way around an exploitation movie, and Foxy Brown does not fail to deliver the goods: boobs, gunfights, boobs, lesbian bar brawls, boobs, car chases, and boobs. It's all in a day's work for Foxy. Quentin Tarantino loved Pam Grier and this movie so much that he told Jack Hill that he named Jackie Brown after them. Jackie for Jack (Hill) and Brown from Pam's character here. It also has one of the coolest opening credit sequences I've ever seen.
The Cat and The Canary (1927, dir. Paul Leni) This is the great great grandaddy of every "Family Members Gather In An Old Dark House To Hear The Reading Of The Will And Spooky Things Transpire" movie ever made, including James Whales' The Old Dark House! In the documentary Universal Horrors, Ray Bradbury still remembered (seventy years later) seeing this film as a child and how much the "hairy hand" reaching out from behind a bookcase scared him. Now is your chance to be scared by the "hairy hand." Rusty Nails screened The Cat and the Canary a few years ago at a Music Box Massacre. So impressed was I that I sought out the original Broadway play and directed it at my high school. It was the coolest.
Dead End Drive-in (1986, dir. Brian Trenchard-Smith) Terrific Ozploitation movie finds Australia taken over by crime and gangs. To combat this, the government starts rounding up young people and keeping them prisoner in a drive-in, where they are given endless supplies of drugs, booze and snack bar food and have no hope of escape. Dated for sure, but possibly the best movie in the enormous catalog of the legendary Brian Trenchard-Smith.