three films you should have been watching

so this week, in lieu of “the jokes,” i’ve decided to spend a little time introducing you to a trio of movies you’ve probably seen on your cable television and decided to just pass by for some misguided reason, thus depriving you of what we call “good times.”

Strange Days

Strange Days (1995)
reason you didn’t watch it: it might be because you don’t like anything remotely sci-fi because you’re afraid someone’s going to show up in a Star Trek leotard, or it might be because the concept here is a little hard to describe to you: “well, an ex-cop who’s now sort of a drug dealer, except that he deals in the major sci-fi concept here, this wire-drug-thing, is involved in obsessing over his ex and thus gets inadvertently stalked and sort of framed by a larger crime that also involves a subplot he has nothing to do with.” it is a little confusing. or maybe you just object to movies that made the year 2000 seem like a big deal?

reason you SHOULD watch it: well, let’s start with the fact that there’s nothing wrong with a complicated plot and that the sci-fi concept is a mild one AND essentially necessary for the story to work – the technology remains unexplained, but it’s really not a big deal. add in the fact that the cast is stacked in terms of lead roles (Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Tom Sizemore) and in terms of supporting cast (Vincent D’Onofrio, Michael Wincott, William Fichtner) and that they all come across well here: Fiennes and Bassett play to their respective strengths of being likeable and glib/strong in a role, Sizemore and D’Onofrio are totally nuts, as in their best work, and Wincott really only needs to talk because he has a crazy-awesome voice. plus, we have the best and most appropriate use of a live band (Skunk Anansie) in a scene in a movie with Michael Wincott since the Thrill Kill Kult was in that Crow movie. this is not high theatre here, but it’s a fun ride.

best line: “bullet-resistant? what happened to bullet-proof?”


Amadeus (1984)
reason you didn’t watch it: because it’s a period piece of historical fiction, set during the late 1700s, based on the lives of Antonio Salieri (who you have never heard of) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who you mainly remember from being a child and having to hear about how much he accomplished at such a young age while your mother was giving you a look as if to add “and yet you sit there with your fucking crayons doing nothing of consequence.” i mean, in other words, a bunch of guys in tights prance around reenacting versions of events that happened around 200 years ago. fascinating!

reason you SHOULD watch it: this is sort of cheating because Amadeus won about eight Oscars, and real Oscars in serious categories (actor, director, movie, writing) and was nominated for three more – hell, it had two nominees for actor in a leading role, so if you give ANY credit to critics, then watch this movie. Forman’s directing and Shaffer’s screenplay are top-notch, Abraham’s fantastic as Salieri and Hulce… well, let’s just say that i don’t think he did himself a favor doing the best work he has ever done this early in his acting career. but really, the question is why YOU should watch it given the above – after all, Oscars are merely academic when you have tights starring you in the face. well, for me it went like this – i never watched this movie in my youth (for those reasons above) until i accidentally watched half of it out of boredom and found all that good shit above cloaked in those tights and also some fancy lace and other outfits in that vein. but beyond that, if you choke down the wrapping you get a compelling character-driven film that’s not really dependant on all that history to work. plus, you get a skinny Jeffrey Jones!

best line: Mozart: “”confutatis maledictis” – when the wicked are confounded. “flammis acribus adictis.” how would you translate that?” Salieri: “consigned to flames of woe.” Mozart: “do you believe it?” Salieri: “what?” Mozart: “a fire which never dies, burning you forever?” Salieri: “oh yes.”


Road House (1989)
reason you didn’t watch it: because you’re a fucking Communist? even though i once resisted watching this film, once i finally DID watch it, i can’t honestly understand why i never watched it sooner.

reason you SHOULD watch it: actually, i understand that there’s a fine line between a bad movie and a movie that’s no darling of the critics that’s still just fun. this is the latter. i suppose after my affection being lavished on Sam Elliott (well-deserved) and Patrick Swayze (which must always be defended) that you think i’ll make this all about them, and i probably could (well, about Sam Elliott, anyway)… but that’s really beside the point, because i could put them in some period piece with tights and they would turn that motherfucker OUT. though, to be fair, i’m not sure what exactly happens in cinematic terms when you turn a motherfucker out, but i’m sure it’s great stuff. what it means to me is that you should tune out the nagging part of your brain that made you appreciate Amadeus and enjoy it when the smirking villain declares to Swayze that “i used to fuck guys like you in prison!” and it’s really a very solid mindless action movie: people get wailed on, but not in crazy unreal ways; one-liners get dropped, but they tend to be appropriate and almost funny; Keith David puts in an appearance. i mean, if you’re a film snob, you can make excuses, but if i catch you watching some shit like Commando, then Road House better be on your list.

best line: well, the above is classic, but the best remains “pain don’t hurt.”

also, for those of you wondering why a movie near and dear to my heart, Red Dawn (1984), was not on the list, the answer is simple: everyone already KNOWS they should watch Red Dawn and there’s no good reason not to. AVENGE ME!!!

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