BACK TO SCHOOL SPECIAL

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Kris

Can't decide what to watch?FollowTheThread.
Each week Elma and I give you 5 opinionated but culturally relevant choices, based on our experience of curating smart sticky stuff for Ovation, Trio, Bravo, A&E, Sundance, Fuse, and others.
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Latest posts by Kris (see all)

Ah, school days – “carefree and glorious”.  That wasn’t your experience?  Maybe that’s why we’re still fascinated by it, and still trying to figure it out.  Did we say “fascinated”?  Make that “slightly obsessed”.

Palo Alto (2014)

Third generation Coppola takes on first generation Franco (it’s based on his stories).  With Franco playing the hypnotically skeevy soccer coach who is flirting with quiet, sensual April (Emma Robertson).  She is open to it, when gravity isn’t pulling her toward dangerously drifting stoner Teddy (Jack Kilmer – yes, son of that Kilmer).  Poetic, nonjudgmental and even affectionate, it feels surprisingly timeless.   And the low level of narrative contrivance makes it feel honest, a winning quality in a high school story.  

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/palo-alto/id854108881

 

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

A generation earlier, a Coppola earlier.  Why is it that a fifteen year old movie makes us feel older than one that came out this year?  Answer – it falls in that uncanny valley where you feel like they should all still be young, but they’re not.  Eugenides’ book has a much more direct narrative drive than Franco’s stories, and the respective films reflect that. What’s really interesting is that Virgin Suicides felt so fresh when it came out, and Palo Alto’s narrative approach feels fresher now.  It’s worth revisiting to take a look.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-virgin-suicides/id268264338

To Die For (1995)

OK, strictly speaking, it’s not a high school movie.  But – things were getting a little heavy… Kidman’s character does seem stuck in a scary eternal adolescence… And, the dynamic between her and love/lust-struck Joaquin Phoenix does express something twistedly, eternally archetypal.  Add to that the fact that we still can’t watch Matt Dillon without flashing back to THE OUTSIDERS – and this made the list.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/to-die-for-1995/id640859842

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

It’s really important to remember that this is where Sean Penn started out.  It’s also really important to remember that this was based on real life – Cameron Crowe wrote the script based on a Rolling Stone undercover assignment in a San Diego high school.  And thus most important is to remember one of the ways that life is like high school – sometimes just not that complex.  That simple truth is why this movie is enshrined in the National Film Registry.   

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/fast-times-at-ridgemont-high/id371213113

 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

As we were saying.  Bueller’s zen-like grasp of the true order of the universe is something that we can all learn from.  Hughes lets Ferris break the fourth wall so that we can have the direct experience of his beneficent mastery. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/ferris-buellers-day-off/id285663978

Lolita (1997)

The amazing thing about LOLITA – novel, 1962 movie, this one – is that it is such a dazzling hall of mirrors.  Man, girl; age, youth; obsession, eros.  Even though she is the minor and Humbert is the major, she is the prey and he is the predator – Dolores is actually the adult in the relationship.  Humbert, with his elaborate façade of sophistication, is stuck in the moment of puberty. 

It’s such an un-American story  – some children do really understand sex better than adults, and life is actually not just like high school.  We never thought we would say it: this version doesn’t have as many wicked laughs, but it’s actually better than – OK, maybe not better, but just as good as – the Kubrick version.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/lolita-1962/id371800794

Mean Girls (2004)

We could say that this is anthropological comedy, but that would be grossly overworking it. 
OR, we could say that with a sharp, hilarious pre-30 ROCK Tina Fey script and a winning performance, this is far and away Lindsay Lohan’s best movie.  Great cast (Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Amanda Seyfried’s debut). 6 Teen Choice & MTV Movie Awards (17 noms!).  What’s not to like?  If you’re only going to watch one this weekend, do yourself a favor– this is the one. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/mean-girls/id208511170

NEO NOIR

Watch it!

Kris

Can't decide what to watch?FollowTheThread.
Each week Elma and I give you 5 opinionated but culturally relevant choices, based on our experience of curating smart sticky stuff for Ovation, Trio, Bravo, A&E, Sundance, Fuse, and others.
Watch it!

Latest posts by Kris (see all)

“Film Noir” was the term French film critics coined to describe the dark, morally ambiguous movies Hollywood produced after the Second World War.  Yet, however compromised its protagonists were, they generally adhered to a personal code of honor Americans could recognize and respect.  But after the horrors and scandals of the 1960s (the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Church Committee on the CIA), honor was neither sought—nor possible.  Hence “Neo Noir.”  It explored the same dark corners of Film Noir, while at the same time tearing down the last lingering vestiges of honor of American film’s most morally ambivalent genre.

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 SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

Frank Miller/Robert Rodriquez’ second movie based on Miller’s graphic novels is out this weekend.  Even tho it’s getting mixed reviews, it will be a must-see for many of us. 

After all, it already won a technical award at Cannes for its signature graphic/noir look.  And August is the month when anybody stuck in the city is feeling a little noir – hot, irritable, lethargic but restless.   Good time to drink a lot and do something stupid.  

http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/weinstein/frankmillerssincityadametokillfor/

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Sin City (2005)

The brilliant love child of a menage-a-trois between Rodriquez, Miller and Quentin Tarentino.  A movie like this is a two-edged sword – especially when you go to make a sequel. 

It sets the bar so high that it’s almost impossible to clear it.  Is that one of the reasons it took nine long years for the sequel? 

But at the same time, it makes the sequel necessary viewing – especially when it’s from two of the three same people. If you didn’t the original Sin City – it’s a real treat.  And probably even if you’re watching again – like many of the best noirs, the plot is really not that important.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/sin-city/id432481299

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The Big Lebowski (1998)

That thing about brilliant? This was the next movie the Coens made after FARGO, which had won them an Oscar for screenplay.

For a lot of critics, LEBOWSKI just didn’t rise to that level.  At least when it was released – within a couple years, it had ascended to cult status.  By now most of us who didn’t get it in the beginning have succumbed to LEBOWSKI’S charms, and the movie’s status as one of the pillars of the Coens’ oeuvre.   Who but the Coens – singular masters of fusing crime and comedy – could have elevated The Dude to a noir hero and cultural icon? Or would have had the chutzpah to include fantasy sequences?   

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-big-lebowski/id280338635

 

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Dark City (1998)

Another cult classic released later in 1998.  This time, even deeper cult, combining noir with sci-fi/alien abduction in another visual tour de force.  The film is a brilliant gothic labyrinth.  And so is the plot – watch carefully.  But it’s worth watching – Roger Ebert thought it was the best film of 1998.  A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember.  From Australian director Alex Proyas, who had done THE CROW and went on to I, ROBOT.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/dark-city/id290540972

 

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Chinatown (1974)

“It’s genre… It’s art… It’s genre… It’s art…”  And if you don’t know how this turns out, you have to see this classic immediately – unless, of course, you’re boycotting Polanski.  In which case, read Robert Towne’s textbook script. 

Here at The Thread we have to just shut up, because to us this is one of the most perfect movies of all time – and worth watching at least once a year.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/chinatown/id208600546

 

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The Long Goodbye” (1973)

From Robert Altman, one of the most controversial reinterpretations of Chandler ever.  Altman does to the noir genre what he did for the Western in MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER.

This is noir with the edges sanded off – from the golden-hued photography to Elliott Gould’s turn as Philip Marlowe.  He’s still the only good man, but decidedly un-hardboiled. The period is transposed to the ‘70’s and everything is relative, inexact, from the improvised dialogue to the constantly moving camera. 

At the time lot of people shouted “Not noir!” and you still might.  But after forty years the provocation seems very intentional.    

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-long-goodbye/id303983659

 

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Night Moves (1975)

A dark, dark movie in every way – noir with the protective veneer of style and period stripped off.

Gene Hackman is an ex-football player turned private eye.  As his marriage falls apart, he gets drawn into a swamp of corruption and moral decay when he agrees to find a Hollywood rich kid (played, controversially, by an 18-year-old Melanie Griffith).

Hackman was at the height of his career, making three movies a year and coming off the triumph of THE CONVERSATION.  But this neglected masterpiece was the end of a down cycle for Penn, and it shows – BONNIE AND CLYDE is a holiday romp by comparison.  

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/night-moves/id298873525