Around certain parts (these parts, far parts, near parts) I am known to have somewhat unconventional taste in films. This is because I am a ridiculous wimp and have an aversion to yelling, suspense, violence, or the suggestion thereof. Regular-person movies like “Super 8” find me twisting 360 degrees in my $16 theater seat and cause panic-dreams for weeks.
Naturally then, when choosing a movie, I am not drawn towards films with plots or a series of actions that further said plot. I prefer to watch regular people go through subtle emotional trials only to end up either largely unchanged or changed in a way that is impossible to describe with any specificity.
Many people are not familiar with my preferred genre because it has almost no appeal to anybody looking for a movie with clear entertainment value. Still, as a public service I have decided to list my favorite movies and explain why they are so awesome.
[A word of warning: Mentioning these movies WILL make you appear more cultured and important at various gatherings, however you will also sound like an insufferable tool. Luckily for me, being insufferable is how I roll. You, however, should use your best judgment.]
THE TOP 5
1. The Company – This Altman flick stars Neve Campbell post-relevance and a younger, raffish fellow named James Franco. I am one of only seven people who saw this in the theater and I enjoyed it but assumed that I would never hear of it again.
Thank God, however, that Asian DVD bootleggers don’t have their finger on the pulse in any way shape or form because in 2004, when I spent a college semester in Vietnam, I found “The Company” widely featured in every bootleg DVD store in the city. Naturally, I scooped it up so that I could inflict it on my friends at will.
“The Company” features everything I love about movies with no superfluous plot-related distractions of any sort. Neve is a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet (DANCE MOVIE!) in Chicago (CITY LIFE MOVIE!). She meets James Franco (HANDSOME MAN MOVIE!), who is a sous chef somewhere (FOOD MOVIE!). She dances. She bowls at one point. She takes a bath. Her mom comes for a visit. Then it ends. And man, is it awesome.
[Note for the anti-piracy folk: In Vietnam regular DVDs are not available. It is only possible to buy hilariously packaged bootlegs and there is nothing to do after 8pm except watch them. I also own a bootleg copy of “Vanity Fair” in which the subtitles belong to Top Gun.]
2. Rachel Getting Married – This widely acclaimed film features Anne Hathaway as the troubled younger sister of a bride-to-be. Sadly, however, the film is mostly remembered for causing widespread nausea among big-screen audiences. The handheld camerawork is really, really, really…handheld. Like “we put the cameraman on a boat to shoot this but we stayed on dry land” handeheld.
We get it. Real life doesn’t happen in stable sweeping shots. Whatever. I still like keeping my lunch inside of my stomach.
Anyway, because of the possibility that “Rachel” would make friends sick, it was a controversial film to recommend to people while it was still in theaters. Now that its is only available on DVD, however, it is possible to enjoy it on a screen small enough to look away from if necessary. If you have an old 13” tube TV, this is a good opportunity to drag that sucker out into the light, grab a copy of “Rachel,” and give it a whirl. You won’t be sorry you did.
3. The Trip – One of my favorite things about this movie is that it lacks a narrative to such a degree that it is not even clear to the viewer whether the film is fiction or non-fiction. My uninformed take is that it is some combination thereof, with the two main characters based on the men playing them minus a few minor background details.
Essentially, the important plot details are that two famous British comedians take a culinary trip to various restaurants in the English countryside and tell jokes. If you enjoy British people, humor, bad impressions, eccentric behavior, SUVs, or restaurants, you will not even notice that this film has zero going on besides driving, eating, and laughing. You will, in fact, appreciate the lack of a story for allowing so much time for all of the comedic digressions.
4. Tiny Furniture – To be honest, if you did not grow up in Manhattan around the same time I did, graduate from a similar type of college, then move back home to New York in the late 2000s to realize that your beloved birthplace was unaffordable and your life was going nowhere, you probably wont enjoy this film. Everything that happens is sort of depressing but also not that big a deal and the main character is frustratingly unmotivated to do anything about anything.
Still, just as I openly admit to only enjoying books about people from New York who are just like me, I find films about people like me to be especially wonderful and entertaining because I am a meglomaniac. Plus, without any sort of plot getting in the way, “Tiny Furniture” was just one long opportunity to reminisce about…like, last year.
5. Somewhere – This movie was the breakout role for Elle Fanning, Dakota’s 7 ft tall younger sister. She plays the daughter of an actor living at the Chateau Marmont whose debaucherous life is out of control but not so out of control as to create the need for a plot. A perfect balance of slow-moving non-necessary scenes and vague insight into the empty life of a Hollywood cliché figure.
My only gripe with this movie and the reason it only comes in at number 5 is that, in true Sofia Coppola style, the opening scene is an unmoving single take of a car going around a track for over 500 hours. That’s too long, Sofia. It’s not wonder you did not have time to work a plot into this movie.
That said, keep up the good work.
So feel free to mention my work in your next film theory class. This post includes the kind of in depth, thoughtful commentary that film academics live for, right?
You are WELCOME.