My policy on Netflix has been to get out one older film and one newer film at a time. That’ll keep me from feeling like anything I’m watching is becoming work, and also lets me catch the occasional bad movie that I nonetheless want to see. It’s been working so far.
Fast Times At Ridgemont High
I’ve never been a fan of 80’s teen comedies, but Fast Times was its own thing. Clever and funny, it avoided the kind of stereotypes I’ve come to expect from teen comedies while managing to pull off the best stoner archetype I’ve ever seen. Classic.
Fast Times came before the John Hughes teen movie tsunami, where Say Anything followed it. This wasn’t as great as Fast Times, but was still a pretty good movie. Did anyone else get the vibe that Grosse Pointe Blank was a kinda sorta thematic follow-up to Say Anything? Like, if Lloyd Dobler actually ran away at prom, became a hitman, then returned home to Diane for their high school reunion, the movie wouldn’t be much different than Grosse Pointe Blank did. Also the movies share most of the same cast.
Where Eagles Dare
I saw this in anticipation of Inglourious Basterds, to get myself in the mood for a WWII era men on a mission movie. I didn’t know what to expect from it, other than that it had Clint Eastwood in it and that there was Nazi killing. It was a far more fun, twisty spy/action flick than anticipated. It might not be a full-on classic, but it kicked some butt at the right times and had some really well paced action at the end. Richard Burton’s a bit of a ponce, though.
Crimes and Misdemeanors
I have some hardcore, not fit for children love of Woody Allen. I get frustrated when conversations boil down to people saying “I don’t think he’s funny,” as if the only thing that Allen has going for him is comedy. I mean, yeah, I think he’s really funny, but that’s only half of what draws me to him. He’s also a phenomenal director, one of the best at creating natural scenes of dialogue and using not just on-screen but off-screen space as well. Crimes was one of his more serious pieces. Not bereft of comedy, but he was certainly edging more toward his Ingmar Bergman mode for it. A great performance by Martin Landau didn’t hurt. Highly recommended.
I thought I’d like this one more. This was what I chose to be my first John Wayne western, since it looked more complex and nuanced than much of his work. Despite a very good story and some great supporting performances, Wayne still comes off like a fake macho jackass for too many scenes. I’ll still see some of his other classics, but I don’t have much hope that I’ll ever be able to get through John Wayne trying to be the badass that Clint Eastwood managed to pull off so effortlessly. John Ford sure can direct, though.