Tuesday, July 29, 2008

12 Movies to Save the World

Wow, I feel somewhat loved this afternoon. I've been tagged not once, but twice, to take part in the latest meme from the Lazy Eye Theatre. So, thank you JD and Glenn for the shoutouts! I'm supposed to pretend that I'm running a movie theater and have to select 12 movies to play as six double features. Here are the rules from the original:

1) Choose 12 Films to be featured. They could be random selections or part of a greater theme. Whatever you want.

2) Explain why you chose the films.

3) Link back to Lazy Eye Theatre so I can have hundreds of links and I can take those links and spread them all out on the bed and then roll around in them.

4) The people selected then have to turn around and select 5 more people.

Here we go, this is going to be fun!

Night 1: Friendship
Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (David Merkin, 1997)
I want to start off with my mini film-festival on a positive note, so I'll start with a positive theme: friendship. I chose Rebel Without a Cause to kick off the festivities because it's still an incredibly modern and relevant film in the 2000's (that is, if you look past all the bad 50's dialogue) and the relationship between James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo is simply beautiful. On the other hand, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, an unfairly maligned chick flick that only gets better and funnier with age, hysterically shows the strange but all-too-true dynamics of friendships: somedays you're making fun of Pretty Woman together while eating Doritos, other times you bickering about who's the Mary and who's the Rhoda and still others you simply can't stand looking at each other. But, at the end of the day, you know that you'll be there to help them out when you need them the most (and then do a totally impromptu ballet to Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time").

Night 2: Needs a Second Look
Family Diary (Valerio Zurlini, 1962)
Mississippi Mermaid (Francois Truffaut, 1969)
For the second night, I wanted to pick two films that I've seen only once before and really want to see again but haven't had the opportunity. While watching Valerio Zurlini's Family Diary on TCM a few months ago, I generally thought it was a good melodrama with a couple of nice performances from Marcello Mastroianni and Jacques Perrin and nothing more. For the next couple of days, however, I couldn't get the damn movie and its gorgeous images out of my head. Quite simply, Family Diary is one of the greatest films ever made about the relationship between brothers. I wish I could see this one again, but, unfortunately, I deleted this off my DVR before I realized how good it was and it's not available anywhere on DVD or even VHS. Such a shame; I really need a second look. Mississippi Mermaid not only features the most beautiful romantic leads ever with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve (second only to Newman and Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) but it is also one of Francois Truffaut's many salutes to Hitchcock. I wasn't crazy with the results when I saw it the first time, but I started thinking that maybe, like most of Hitchcock's greatest works (except for Vertigo...I've seen it at least twice now and I still don't think it's that great), it needs a couple of viewings to be evaluated properly.

Night 3: Insanity
Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
The Snake Pit (Anatole Litvak, 1948)
With this pairing on night three, a somewhat deep and philosophical question can be asked after watching Sidney Lumet's masterpiece Network and the underrated Olivia de Havilland vehicle The Snake Pit back-to-back: Who's actually crazier-- de Havilland and the other "loonies" in the ward or Howard Beale, Diana Christensen and the followers of Beale's madman rants?

Night 4: Mothers from Hell
Mommie Dearest (Frank Perry, 1981)
Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 1980)
Night four will consist of the mothers that we love to hate in two very different movies made just a year apart. Mommie Dearest is pure camp from start to finish, while Ordinary People is a slick, grown up tragedy that a lot of people complain about winning the Best Picture Oscar over Raging Bull. That's pretty sad that this is Ordinary People's main claim to fame because it's a much better film than it's given credit for (and Redford's achievement is nearly as great as Scorsese's behind the director's chair).

Night 5: True Love
Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)
Sid & Nancy (Alex Cox, 1986)
Having never been in love myself, I have a warped sense of what "romantic" is. For my fifth night, I'm offering two movies that I think are quite possibly the most romantic ever made. Both Bonnie and Clyde and Sid & Nancy concern outcasts who meet, have undeniable spark and will do anything for each no matter how illegal or immoral. So what if Sid (allegedly) kills Nancy and then overdoses on heroin or Bonnie and Clyde end up gunned down in a blaze of bullets?

Night 6: Politics as Comedy
Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
Duck Soup was a flop when it was released in 1933, but today it couldn't be any more relevant concerning the war in Iraq and Bush's presidency. The Marx Brothers let their usual brand of anarchy spill all over the place with a glorious mix of pantomime, one-liners, musical numbers and slapstick. Dr. Strangelove is a comedy about nuclear warfare; how much crazier does that get? Add to that the loony General Turgidson (how did George C. Scott get passed up for an Oscar that year?) who's sole purpose for being is, no matter the human cost, to kill as many Reds as possible. Underneath all of the laughter, it's generally an uncomfortable film because you have to believe that at some point Bush has had a meeting exactly like the one that takes place in The War Room.

And now for the tagging... mB, Michael Parsons and anyone else who hasn't been tagged and would like to do this. Just link back to here so I can enjoy your post (and the rest of your blog if I've never read you before!).


J.D. said...

Nights 3 and 4 sound INCREDIBLE. So does Night 1. And Night 5. And Night 6. So, yay.

Never been in love? What are you, Briony? ;)

Marcy said...

I love Ordinary People and Network.