Friday, October 17, 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.

The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980)
The David Lynch film for people who don't really understand David Lynch. I understand why people love him, but I personally need a coherent story to go along with the visuals. The Elephant Man is the first film of Lynch's I saw and the only one that hasn't made me question his sanity. In any one else's hands, this film would have been turned into dreck; with Lynch, it's still uplifting and touching, but the emotions don't feel cheap or forced on us. The friendship between Anthony Hopkins' kindly doctor and John Hurt's grotesquely deformed man (he's not an animal) is a surprising treat as well.

Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
The greatest screwball comedy ever made. The film is so layered and well-constructed that it may take a couple of viewings to begin to understand just how brilliant it is. In comparison with romantic comedies of today, Bringing Up Baby just makes them look so lazy and lifeless. The character actors here (Charlie Ruggles, Barry Fitzgerald and May Robson) are all fantastic, but the film really belongs to Cary Grant as the befuddled professor looking for his missing interclostal clavicle and Katharine Hepburn as the motormouth heiress who's in love with Grant, both giving the greatest performances of their careers (although I'm sure that there are others who would disagree).

Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar, 2004)
I was just talking with J.D. about how amazing this film is and I really, really want to see it again. Almodovar's self-proclaimed "fag noir" is really hard to describe since it's basically a strange combination of Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, a Hitchcock thriller, RuPaul and the infamous make out scene at the end of Y Tu Mama Tambien with sexual abuse at the hands of
Catholic priests thrown in as well. As a bonus, Gael Garcia Bernal burns up the screen as the mysterious femme fatale and let's us now that he is an actor to be reckoned with.

1 comment:

J.D. said...

Bad Education is SO damn incredible. I'm still in awe looking back. Gael's performance is... ugh, I can't even describe it. It's all brilliant.