Nearly five year ago I wrote this, the second of my movie columns. Imagine a dotted line around the border with the words “clip and save” because I can’t imagine encouraging anyone to watch a movie when the weather is this gorgeous. Put these movies on your list for the coming winter. My excuse for issuing a rerun is probably of little interest to any of you so I’ll leave you out of it and apologize for the first non-original column I’ve ever submitted. We’ve got almost 400 rated movies on Netflix and these are numbers five through ten.
On the way home from a Christmas reunion a couple years ago Dawn and I stopped at McDonalds in West Des Moines. The cashier looked like he just awoke from a three day drunk. The first words out of his mouth were, “uh whaddyawant?” The lady making fries was having a coughing fit all over the food. There were wrappers on the floor like the streets of New York. The tables were cleaned with a catsup-soaked rag. Four kids rode up outside and flung their bikes into a pile against the building. If Ray Kroc were alive and saw this he would burst into tears and then torch the place. This story is my introduction to Idiocracy (2006), an all-too graphic prediction of the results of government dependence and control. I laughed. Dawn was sad. Rated R because they act like the kids on the bus.
I’ve been warned not to mention this next one. But I’m grumpy, so here goes. Freeway (1996) is about a teenage girl in the real world who stands up for herself. Reese Witherspoon shows early on she can get into a character and make her real. In a way this is a sports movie because we root for this poor soul all the way. Netflix describes it as “Suspenseful, Raunchy, Dark, Violent.” This one is also rated R. Be a good parent and realize it’s a dictatorship until they move out on their own.
I’ve seen a couple death movies lately that really tripped my trigger. The first one is The Loved One (1965). “Something to offend everyone,” is the claim in the trailer. I think this is one of the greatest movies of all time. Starring Jonathan Winters, Rod Steiger and Liberace, among other recognizable stars, these people had fun making this movie. It’s about the funeral business, as is the next movie I’ll recommend. It is not rated but the date indicates it’s harmless, just offensive.
Departures (2008) is Japanese with subtitles. Don’t be afraid, these people talk real slow and it should be a good place to start reading subtitles. If you venture forth, you enter a whole new world of great movies. This is one of them, winning the best foreign film Oscar. The director is skilled at manipulating the viewer’s emotions and making his story yours. This movie, on the surface, is about the culture of dealing with the deceased in Japan. But it is really about the world of the living and doing what you love to do. It was late, we were tired, yet we couldn’t shut this one off. (PG-13) By the way, it was recently discovered that hundreds of thousands of people in Japan have been dead for years; a result of an unmanageable social security bureaucracy. With grandma buried in the backyard the checks keep coming.
Well I started this column with the purpose of escape and ended up with a bunch of heavy stuff. This last one is heavy too, but in a different way. Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1960) was released when I was 10. Ben Stern, a fashion photographer, made this documentary about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival and never made another movie. I know. I looked it up because I wanted more. Any music fan or movie fan should be enriched with this. My favorite part is the incredible vocal improvisation by Anita O’day on Sweet Georgia Brown. I mean to tell ya.
I hope to be back soon with an original because there is so much to talk about. By the way, we just watched a documentary about Ayn Rand (A Sense of Life) where she admits she sees little hope of her writing making an impact on the world and she settled for writing for her own pleasure. Last week I met a young man who had never heard of Ayn Rand, the author of the second largest selling book in history, Atlas Shrugged. The Bible is still number one.
To my email subscribers: You might be familiar with Wally. He is our Huntaway (dog). He is named after Walter E. Williams because he is black and smart. He has cancer and is on my mind. That is the reason for the rerun. Please take in some of these great movies and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading and letting me know if these are mere clutter in your inbox. Fritz