As much as I like reviewing films, I'd like to branch out in my writing. Not beyond films, no, that'd be silly, just different aspects of movies. Recently I was nominated by Elgringo over at He Shot Cyrus, probably my #1 fan, to write about The 12 Movies Meme, originated by Lazy Eye Theatre - Which asks, what if YOU could pick 12 movies to run at the New Beverly Cinema? (Which is a popular revival theater in L.A.) I thought I'd take that challenge.
I wasn't sure where the hell to start. There are too many films log-jammed in my brain to even know where to begin. Taking a look at He Shot Cyrus' list, I saw that he featured two old Peter Jackson films. Out of that grew my idea, showcasing some of the lesser know films from my favorite directors, and trying to program them together by genre. So here we go:
Start with a pair of family films, that everyone can enjoy.
Pee-wee's Big Adventure - Tim Burton's first feature length film. I think most folks remember this film... but do the know how freaking good it is? This film is constantly surreal, utterly hilarious, undeniably quotable and just plain fun. Plus it features my all-time-favorite score; Danny Elfman's 2nd, who's gone on to become one of the biggest composers in Hollywood.
Time Bandits - Terry Gilliam is one of my favorite filmmakers, he has an absolutely unique vision. In the right circles, this is a fairly well known film, but your average Joe has never heard of it. A brave group of little-people take on God. It's appropriate for kiddies, and would just be a total blast to see on the big screen.
Some adult fare, with a couple of forgotten epics.
Empire of the Sun - Absolutely everybody knows who Steven Spielberg is. If you ask a random person on the street to name a film director, I bet at least 5 out of 10 answers would be him. But even a lot of film buffs, don't remember his 1987 film Empire of the Sun, which introduced a very young, British accent and all, Christian Bale. The film follows this young lad through WWII, as he moves from a posh life as an aristocrat to living in a Japanese P.O.W. camp. Brilliant, moving film.
Le Grand bleu - Most people think Luc Besson's career started with La Femme Nikita, but he made three feature films before that one. And since Subway and Le Dernier combat aren't very good, I chose Le Grand bleu. It's the story of a deep-sea-diver going for the world's record for deepest dive sans respirator. But it's so much more than that, a beautiful film about friendship and finding your life's limits.
A couple of great B-movies, for the weekend
In the Mouth of Madness - Everyone knows the classic John Carpenter: Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China - But how about the last film he did, before his talent seemed to leave him? Madness is a seriously scary and messed up film.
Starship Troopers - This is an under-appreciated classic. Politically subversive, full of over-the-top violence, nudity and giant bugs getting the shit blasted out of them; an utterly brilliant, yet incredibly stupid film all at the same time.
Crimewave - I'm getting really obscure, from one of Hollywood's biggest directors. After breaking out with the cult-classic Evil Dead, Sam Spider-man's Raimi, created a little know slapstick-action film about little nerd taking on a pair of psycho-exterminators. The film is highly influenced by Looney Toons and features a very young Bruce Campbell.
After Hours - After Spielberg, among today's directors, Martin Scorsese would probably qualify as the 2nd best known director working. His list of classic films is long, I don't need to name them. But how many of you have seen After Hours? Cult actress Rosanna Arquette takes Griffin Dunn on a wild ride through New York, destroying his life and opening his eyes.
The Man Who Wasn't There - Sure, everyone knows the Coen Brother's films No Country for Old Men, Fargo, The Big Lebowski & Raising Arizona - All classic films, all too easy. So my pick from my favorite filmmakers, is their 2001 dark-comedy. Billy Bob Thorton stars in this underrated, double, triple-cross mystery film, with some classic Coen brother touches.
Weird Science - In the 80's filmmaker John Hughes had an unprecedented run of films, creating seven classic, to near-classic films in five years, and then he lost it all. Between Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, he created the surreal and hilarious film Weird Science. Oh, we've all seen it a thousand times on cable, but I'd love to see this film on the big screen, with an eager audience. Kelly Lebrock, gorgeous, and larger-than-life. Anthony Michael Hall, one of the greatest teen actors ever, at his peak. Totally awesome.
Dark City - Alex Proyas isn't necessarily a well known director, depending on who you talk to his biggest film is either The Crow or I, Robot. But far-and-away his best film is Dark City, an absolutely brilliant sci-fi/noir mystery. Coming out in 1998, it was instantly overshadowed a year later, by the somewhat similar and far flashier film The Matrix, so it never got the attention it deserved. In my opinion it's the most beautifully photographed film ever.
A Clockwork Orange - Okay, not an unknown film in the least. But how many have us have seen it on the big screen? I've seen 2001, it's beautiful, but boring! The Shining, yeah, scary as hell. But this, my favorite Kubrick film, no, I've never had the pleasure. The gorgeous photography, the brilliant mis-en-scene and editing, the incredible score, and Malcolm McDowell's gloriously over-the-top performance as cinema's all-time-greatest antihero Alex. I can't think of anything better to end this with.