By: Oberst Von Berauscht
Like most manly men, I’m usually too busy chewing bubblegum and kicking ass to take any time and worry about my problems. Point of fact; this week alone I’ve sucker-punched a charging bull, eaten an endangered species into extinction, and slept with an innumerable amount of farmer’s daughters. But even the machoest of Macho-Men can’t spend every day chewing bubblegum and kicking ass.
He’s actually just preparing for a piano recital
After all, if it weren’t for our ability to act all sensitive and stuff every now and then, the constant stream of nubile ladies that (we assure you) inundate us on a daily basis would diminish to a mere trickle.
Sometimes though, for those really bad moods, I do in fact need a movie to zap me out of my funk, a movie like…
(5.) Harvey (1950)
This classic story starring legendary actor James Stewart tells the story of Elwood P. Dowd, a kindly middle-aged drunkard who seems content to fritter his life away with his friend Harvey at the local bar. For some reason his family has a major problem with this, and plot to get him admitted to an insane asylum. ”But why would they do that?” you ask, “after all, Alcoholic’s Anonymous was around back then wasn’t it?”
Did I mention that Harvey is a “Pooka”, an invisible six-foot tall rabbit of Irish Folklore?… no? Dang it, I always miss the important bits…
What makes this movie work so well is how they approach it so earnestly, Elwood Dowd is such a loveably absent-minded character and so convinced that Harvey is real that it begins to rub off on everyone around him. And eventually, even you start believing the Rabbit is real.
My Pooka isn’t very nice though…
(4.) Kelly’s Heroes (1970)
A mainstay of mid-90′s cable television, this War film is far from ordinary. Like M*A*S*H, Kelly’s Heroes used the cynicism and bitterness of the Vietnam-War era to tell a story set in a prior war. (In this case WWII) While not by any stretch the morose comedy masterpiece of M*A*S*H, Kelly’s Heroes is a hilarious bite of escapist action, and humor.
Kelly (Clint Eastwood) kidnaps a German Colonel in a simple intelligence-gathering mission, only to find that the Nazis have millions of dollars worth of gold being lightly guarded in a bank just 30 miles away. Kelly wastes no time, and assembles a small force to try and grab the gold, not for political, or military reasons, but for pure, unfiltered greed. (The American way, naturally)
The movie is perhaps most memorable though for the performance by Donald Sutherland as “Oddball”, the leader of the only group of Hippies in WWII.
God, I love this movie.
(3.) Anything by Ken Burns
There are few films as comforting as the Documentaries of groundbreaking filmmaker Ken Burns. They are the kind of films you can turn on the TV at any point, and immediately become engrossed in the real stories of human struggle. Burns is the Truest American filmmaker, because his documentaries chronicle the little struggles that we went through (and are still going through) to make this country great.
Even better, most of them are available streaming on Netflix. (That hasn’t stopped me from buying up just about every film of his I’ve seen at the store) And in a world where the highest rated show on the so-called “History Channel” is about white trash running a pawn shop, it is refreshing to know that there is still a voice out there to create dynamic, entertaining, and enlightening films.
I never watch sports, and yet the 9-part 20+ hour Baseball Series is one of his finest, and most eminently watchable works. And if you’re looking for something comprehensive; The Civil War, Jazz, and especially The National Parks: America’s Best Idea are excellent. But if you’re looking to test the waters, I recommend his single-part documentaries Huey Long, or The Statue of Liberty.
(2.) Die Hard
This movie always seemed to be on television at just the right times in my life. Yes, one of the biggest action-thrillers of all time can be comforting. The story of a cop left to his own devices to stop a group of terrorists is simple, but the characters are so well designed that the film is engrossing, and easily allows the audience to escape from their troubles.
In recent years however, this film has developed another identity for me: as a Christmas movie.
Ho… Ho… Ho?
(1.) Jackie Brown
Perhaps the best escape from reality for me is Quentin Tarantino’s least remembered film (unless you count Four Rooms), and also the only movie of his that is adapted from a novel. Jackie Brown is a different sort of feature from Tarantino, as it features a fairly chronological sequence, and far less of the inter-cut, overlapping story elements that characterize the rest of his career.
In the film Pam Grier plays Jackie Brown, a down on her luck woman moonlighting as a ferret for gun trafficker Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). She smuggles his ill-gotten money out of Mexico, using her flight-attendant job as a cover, until one day when she is caught with drugs by ATF agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton). She teams up with her bail-bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forrester) with a plan to take Ordell’s money and to get out of her legal troubles.
Jackie Brown is often dismissed by audiences upon first viewing, as overlong and lacking the stylish charm of Tarantino’s other movies. What I’ve found though is this movie gets better with each viewing, as there are lots of far more subtle nuances in the characters, the story, and the editing which are easy to miss. (Especially for the people who went in expecting a Pulp Fiction-style narrative)
Oh yeah, and there is this:
Who could ask for anything more?
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