This week I thought I’d dip into my movie library to list some movies you may or may not have seen, but, well probably should. Old movies? Yep. New movies? Some yeah. One’s somewhere in between? You bet! Film is amazing fun and everyone should watch something new even if it might be out of your comfort zone or what you’d be used to. I will be doing a series of posts like this, giving three movies each time for everyone to check out. My picks for this week? In no particular order:
First, two films you should look out for:
Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953) and Mon Oncle (1958) both directed by Jacques Tati.
These two French films are perhaps some of my favorite films ever. Both are directed by French director Jacques Tati and are extremely unusual and original for both the time period and their approach. They are unusual in that they are, pretty much at the core, silent slapstick films. No really, while both have sound, and are bristling alive with French dialogue, such conversation is in general regulated to the background chit and chatter of the beach resort and its patrons in Les Vacances and in the “old quarter” and mechanized suburbs in Mon Oncle. Both films star the director Tati as Monsieur Hulot, a silent bumbling comedic figure in the vein of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd and modern characters like Mr. Bean. The first film features him going on vacation in a quiet seaside town, the second explores his life adhering to “Old world” lifestyle and struggling to find work and fitting into the new uber modern (to the extent of sterile and heartless) Post-War French suburbia and 1950’s futurist technology and how his resistance affects his young nephew. Don’t be put off by the supposed lack of dialogue. It’s there, and you hardly need to know french to understand as most of the humor is situational, reactionary and slapstick. The music scores for both films also take center stage and contribute a lot. You’ll never miss the dialogue. Both movies are so charming, and Les Vacances is so idyllic you will be dying to go to the beach yourself. I advise to put on sunscreen while watching it, or if it’s warm open your windows, because it will be surely make it a wonderful experience. When it get’s really hot I will probably return to both of these films for their own individual movie reviews, as both are excellent summer films.
Another film? The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) directed by Terry Gilliam
A favorite fantasy film of my childhood that seldom to have seen but it seems most who have it has become a vague dream-like memory. Sort of scary, highly imaginative, it’s Terry Gillliam all over.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, staring John Neville about the outrageous tall tales that the 18th-century German nobleman Baron Münchhausen was said to have told about his wartime exploits against his nemesis the Ottoman Empire. The movie starts as a play of his exploits but the ancient and decrepit supposedly real Baron interrupts and decries the events as they were told as false. Thus starts a strange and bizarre metatexual what-the-hell-which-is-the-story-and-which-the-present labyrinthine plot that is as fun as it is utterly bizarre. This is Frankenstein level frame story action. Given a 98% percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this film was an absolute FLOP in theaters, which is such a disappointment as the movie was chock full of other celebrities and celebrity cameos, both of classic actors, ones in their prime, and those just beginning their careers. The film stars and features appearances by Valentina Cortese, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce…classic Robin Williams too.
Also features freaking Sting, Oliver Reed, an eighteen year old Uma Thurman as the goddess Venus and a very young Sarah Polley. I mean everyone’s in it. seriously you know this film is good when they recreate, in live action Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. One of my favorite scenes in film, ever.
The effects are amazing, being 1988 they still used CGI and special effects, but most the props and articles are actual “things”. Today most of Venus’s shell and the water and her nymphs and their fabric would most likely have been CGI, but this they actually hoisted a giant calm from a fountain and had girls on wirework. Even her Putti pulling the clam’s sash were little anamatronics. The effect, of using real things in the actual filming space, water sloshing around onto the floor, later actual real waterfalls of water really adds a true feeling of magical realism that unfortunately is missing a bit in more current fantasy films where CGI is used for, well, everything.
The movie also has hot air balloons made of underwear, Ottomans (okay just a bit problematic there), and cross-dressing, undead skeletons, giant fish, swashbuckling, supernatural powers and abilities. You really should watch it. I’ll probably return back to this movie too for an individual look.
Oh god is that three beautiful amazing movies already?! This isn’t fair. I’ll have to post three more next week or so. Until the next installment!
Have you seen any of these three films? Please tell me what you think of them! Do you have any movies you think people should watch?! Tell me your suggestions!
Staff Writer/The Doctor