Friday, February 28, 2014
Netflix This Movie! Vol. 66
Wishmaster (1997) Look, this is not a good movie. I really like it though. I can't explain it. I know the story is bad, the acting is worse and it has no suspense whatsoever. But it's so stupid and takes itself so seriously that it somehow becomes kind of transcendent.
Flashdance (1983, dir. Adrian Lyne) I was going to recommend this as a guilty pleasure but then decided I have nothing to feel guilty about. This '80s classic is about a very attractive young lady who, like myself, has a day job as a welder but is a stripper by night; come to think of it, this movie should have been called Stripper By Night. It's big and dumb and loud in the way that all of the other movies from the '80s about strippers tend to be, but I find immense pleasure in the cliches and tropes that it drags out. Honestly, that's most of the fun. Jennifer Beals always looks fantastic to me and really sells the hungry young dancer. Michael Nouri does whatever he's asked to here (which isn't much) as the male romantic lead. Why isn't he more famous? Both JB and the director of The Hidden know why he's not. Did I mention the killer soundtrack that's been the source of parody for over thirty years? I still spin this record sometimes because it's JUST THAT GOOD. And because I can't strip to silence. Flashdance is one of those movies that I have to watch whenever I see it on TV and my fingers physically won't push the button to change the channel. This movie is a simple pleasure, but simple pleasures are nothing to be ashamed of. Take your passion and make it happen.
Hard Eight (1996, dir. P.T. Anderson) I first saw this when my son literally forced me to sit down and watch it one evening. Much like Patrick said earlier this week in his terrific review of Cheap Thrills (not yet on Netflix), when certain filmmakers become famous, we can look back at their earlier work and see that it was all there from the beginning. This is true of Cheap Thrills, and it is certainly true of Hard Eight. Watch this film and see from where Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, and The Master sprung. Great dialogue, great performances, great editing -- Anderson still refers to it by its original title, Sydney.
Eagle vs. Shark (2007, dir. Taika Waititi) This offbeat New Zealand comedy got compared a lot to Napoleon Dynamite when it played in very limited release back in 2007. I understand why people would make that mistake -- they both have a specific deadpan sense of humor and the male lead (Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement) is abrasive and odd and delusional in the same way that Napoleon Dynamite is. But I also know the movies can't be too much alike, because I actually like this movie. Loren Horsley is adorable, the music is great, the little animated bits are cool and the movie is very, very sweet.