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|Written by Lauren Cheal|
|Saturday, 22 October 2011 15:20|
Every so often, something magical happens. Every so often, you are treated to a movie that is just way better than it should be. I am going to share with you 5 of these gems, in the hope that, even if you don't fly over to Amazon and order the DVDs yourself, you might at least linger on Peachtree or W if you happen upon any of these movies on a lazy Saturday. Let's dive in.
When this movie came out in 1998, it seemed like little more than a vehicle for a new film technology (the intertwining of black and white and colour film, made possible by advances in computer graphics). As advertised, the story seemed a little hokey: two teens get trapped in a television show from the 1950s (that is in black and white), and suddenly, colour starts to appear. Not too much to it, it seems. If you actually view the film, though, you will find a compelling look at the way humans deal with difference. The movie uses a biblical allegory to show what happens when townspeople engage in different sins that cause them to fall from the easy paradise they were given. Some fall from this place through sex, others through love, and others through simply believing themselves to be worthy of anything they want. When a person makes this kind of discovery, they pop into colour, which upsets the traditionalists in the town. The battle lines are drawn between the "coloured people" and the black and white people, and the allusions to the civil rights movements are not hard to see.
Favourite Scene: Buddy, the main character (played by Tobey Maguire), finds his mom (Joan Allen) after she has turned coloured because she discovered her own sexuality. He agrees to help her cover it up with makeup, and the scene is both visually fascinating and well-acted by Maguire and Allen.
2. What About Bob?
I know that many people think that Bill Murray is a comedic genius, but I really never have. He is funny, for sure, but not all of his movies are comic gold. Groundhog Day is one that I have never appreciated, even though many extol its virtues. I have never seen Caddyshack, but I haven't had the urge to seek it out either. The exception to my tepid reaction to Bill Murray is the 1991 family comedy, What About Bob. Now if you had told me I would thoroughly enjoy a movie that stars Richard Dreyfus as an uptight psychiatrist who actively avoids treating a nut named Bob, I would have laughed right in your face. But, surprisingly enough, this movie is actually hilarious. Bob is a needy, sad sack of a human being, and he drives the unlikeable psychiatrist (and unlikeable Richard Dreyfus) utterly insane. It is an odd movie with no real protagonist, but it is also damn funny. Bob crashes in on the vacationing psychiatrist and is family at their summer home on Lake Winnipesaukee, and while Dr. Leo Marvin sees Bob as a delusional crazy person, the rest of the family (and the town) come to love him and prefer him over the controlling and un-fun doctor. Bob's neuroses are helped enormously by being part of a family, and he becomes a much more lovable goof, while Dr. Marvin loses his mind.
Favourite Line: "I sail. I'm a sailor. I sail. Way far away, out on the water...AHOY!?" - Bob
I realize that most people have seen Ghost, but let's consider the plot of this thing. A man dies in a stabbing, and then hangs around as, yes, a ghost. He communicates through a psychic medium, played by the freaking hilarious Whoppi Goldberg. The ghost of Patrick Swayze hangs around to protect his girlfriend (Demi Moore) from a murderer with unfinished business. Even with the suspension of reality needed to accept that ghosts exist, the plot is pretty thin here. I am not quite sure what makes the movie rise out of the story it has, but it probably has something to do with the acting talents of Moore, Swayze and Goldberg. Goldberg won a freaking Oscar for this crap, people! What we are left with is a touching love story sprinkled with comedy in the form of Oda Mae Brown. It may be a sort of dumb 90s romantic comedy, but Ghost is a surprisingly good movie.
Favourite Line: While pretending to be someone else at a bank: "I signed the wrong name. Can I have another one, I signed the wrong name." - Oda Mae Brown
4. The Blind Side
Yes, this is the movie that Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for. A well-deserved Oscar, in my opinion. She carries the movie with a performance that shows exactly what kind of strength and heart the very best mothers have. But for all that, the movie could have been a dud. It is an interesting story, for sure. The Blind Side is based on the true story of an offensive lineman named Michael Oher who grew up in a difficult environment in Memphis, Tennessee. He is taken in by a woman from a wealthy background, Leann Tuohy (Bullock), who encourages him to play football and gives him an unlikely home. The movie has the potential to be extremely cheesy, an overly glossy look at "black youth taken in by white family, life is changed", but it really isn't. It is a good movie. The writers and actors find a balance between true-to-life hardship and warm messages about what family really means. Also, Kathy Bates is in it, and she is the best.
Favourite Scene: Leann interrupts a high school football practice where Michael is struggling (he is extremely docile) to explain to him that his quarterback is like his family, and he needs to protect him. The resulting play astounds both the coach and the player who gets flattened, and sassy Texan Sandra Bullock is at her best.
5. Lucky Numbers
If there is one movie on this list that I legitimately think you need to see, it is Lucky Numbers. Before you laugh in my face, hear me out. A pre-scientology, pre-toupee (or at least really obvious toupee) John Travolta stars as a small-time weatherman, Russ Richards (Rrrrrrrusssss Rrrrrrichards!). With the help of a witless Lottery Ball drawing girl named Crystal, played by Lisa Kudrow at her very funniest, Russ rigs the state lottery, and then sets about trying to cash in the ticket without raising suspicions. Along the way, the television station owner, played by Ed O'Neil, and a horny cousin of Crystal (played by Michael Moore before he was a famous documentarian) get involved, forcing Russ and associates to start killing people (with often hilarious results). It is hard to say what makes this movie better than it should be, but Travolta and Kudrow have a lot to do with it. They both tap into a type of dark comedy that benefits greatly from the sort of sad characters they are (but don't know it, of course). Bill Pullman is also at his very funniest (who knew, right?), as an apathetic police officer who is on the case. This movie is really funny, and I think more people should get to meet Rrrrrrrusssss!
Favourite Line: I certainly can't pick just one, so here are a couple.
On why he didn't bother to fill out a ticket being issued to Russ Richards for driving a snowmobile without a license: "My pen....ran out of ink...." - Det. Lakewood
Immediately following a tearful explanation about how her cousin died, while perusing a menu: "Fuck me, no fried clams?" - Crystal
Upon discovering that Crystal purposely killed her cousin by denying him his asthma inhaler: "There's enough mist in here to save 10 masturbators!" - Russ Richards
Tags: bill murray, bill pullman, cinema, don knots, ghosting, jay prichett, john travolta, lisa kudrow, lists, luck, lucky numbers, michael moore, pleasantville, pre scientology, richard dreyfus is a bit the worst, sandra bullock, the blind side, whoopi goldberg