Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekend Rental Picks

A weekly series in which I try to help emerging cinephiles reduce their anxiety by pointing them in the right direction at their local Blockbuster.

Bamboozled (Spike Lee, 2000)
Only Spike Lee could get away with a film in which a modern day minstrel show- complete with black actors in horrifying blackface- becomes the hottest show on television. Bamboozled will probably turn people off, and it's not a perfect film, per se, but watching a legendary director fly off the deep end trying to get his completely insane vision on film is worth the price. The satire is brilliant and something most directors either wouldn't have bothered commenting on or don't have the balls to make such radical statements. Their truly is only one Spike Lee.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Sydney Pollack, 1969)
Depressing movie alert! If you are in a suicidal mood, please do not see this movie. Wait until the mood passes and then pop this in your DVD and, trust me, you won't be disappointed. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? is about the desperate characters who join a Depression-era dance marathon. The contest is grueling and takes it's toll- physically, emotionally and psychologically- on the contestants, which includes a hard-as-nails Jane Fonda, a teetering off the edge Susannah York, and a frail Red Buttons with the cocky emcee Gig Young leading everyone on. The film has a perverse pleasure in punishing it's characters, but the punishment is so engrossing to watch.

Les Enfants du Paradis/Children of Paradise (Marcel Carne, 1945)
It's been called the French Gone With the Wind for many years, so it should come as no surprise that Marcel Carne's epic three-hour romance between a French actress (Arletty) and a shy mime (Jean-Louis Barrault) is also one of my favorite films. The film is a stunner to look at, which makes its incredible backstory (it was made during the Nazi occupation and most of the time was spent trying to evade them) that much more incredible and legendary. If you're afraid of the length, don't be; the time flies by and you'll want to watch it again right afterwards. If you can, try to rent the glorious Criterion edition....perfectly beautiful.

1 comment:

nick plowman said...

Ugh, the last two you highlight so exquisitely are two of my favourite movies of all time.