A crazy schedule this past week lead me to spending more time with backlist films than new ones, though something recent did slide into the list. Digging into my pile of movies that I’ve bought on DVD since being an early adopter, a favorite discover from 1999 was Dick. I ~used~ to like political comedies before the world became a blazing hellscape so there was charm in going back to something as “simple” as Watergate. Presenting it as a comedy through the eyes of two sixteen-year-old girls, one of whom has a hilarious crush on Nixon, is just delightful. It plays with the events of the time well and Dan Hedeya, always a favorite of mine, just nails a comedy-Nixon here. It’s also fun to go back twenty years and see what Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst were doing and seeing the arc of their careers.
An even older favorite of mine is Ladyhawke. A very young Michelle Pfeiffer, a hilariously young Matthew Broderick, and an always smoldering Rutger Hauer. This was one of the few fantasy projects you could get at the time and it was one that also appeared across a range of audiences because of the romance that was central to it. Revisiting it years later I do wish that this could be remade somehow because there are a lot of flaws and weaknesses owing to the time and I can imagine something even more engaging and sweeping. I love the quirkiness of this and all though, especially with Broderick, but every viewing leaves me wishing for something more out of it.
I’ve always enjoyed a good murder storyline in film since it can play well with settings and characters along with the right kind of atmosphere. This one was fun to pull in front of the kids to show them actors that they know in the here and new. Gwyneth Paltrow is engaging in this and playing against Michael Douglas made me smile a lot as we see the plan for the murder being set up. Bringing in Viggo Mortensen ahead of his Lord of the Rings stint was great casting as well as he has all the right allure for the role. It’s a nice update of the original play which was also made into Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder.
Thirty years after the original film, Martin Scorcese did a modern update of Cape Fear. This put Juliette Lewis on the map, though I don’t think she had quite the career I thought she would have had at the time, and it did really well as it was made for $35 million and brought in $182 million back in 1991. It’s a pretty great movie with a lot of tension to it but what drew me to it at the time and still now is that it feels so out of place in time. The way Scorcese put it together makes it feel like it came out of the ’50s or ’60s with its style, the brashness of the music cues, the way the camera moves and follows the characters. It’s not a movie that says “I was made in the ’90s” at all and that was highly appealing at the time with someone at the top of their craft.
I had picked up Sorry to Bother You awhile ago but hadn’t had a chance to sit and watch it with the right mindset. Boots Riley’s debut film is pretty strong here as it follows Lakeith Stanfield as he struggles with success at a telemarketing company. It’s a dark satire throughout that goes to some hilarious disturbing levels later on – graphically so, to my delight – while providing for a lot of strong commentary on late-stage capitalism and just how shit people can be in general.
I had quite enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when it came out from David Fincher an eternity ago and was always disappointed it didn’t do well enough for things to come together for more quickly. The Girl in the Spider’s Web hit last year with a new actress in the lead and a new director and it lasted in the theater for a couple of weeks at best before disappearing, so I never got to see it. Thankfully, that’s my iTunes purchase of the week and I’m looking forward to seeing Claire Foy get all intense in this.