"You're a movie person, right?"

jackie-chan
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"You're a movie person, right?"

If you've navigated the dense series of electric tubes that (I'm told) comprise the internet to ScreenAnarchy, chances are you're a "movie person." That is, when people think of you, they think of film – specifically, the sort of oddball titles that cascade down our beloved online home on a daily (often hourly) basis. Being a "movie person" has, among its many perks, a great big plus in that people will often come knocking for cinematic suggestions. It's always great to tout something you love to someone new and impressionable. What follows is a(n abbreviated) list of my go-to titles in a few genres – I consider all to be accessible (not just in terms of tone and style but availability) but still outside the realm of most average viewers – in the event my "movie person" status goes active.

Horror - Black Christmas - it helps that ScreenAnarchy is, at it's heart, a Canadian enterprise – but I suspect that even were it not, there'd be just as many mentions of Bob Clark's other holiday classic buried in our archives. A great recommendation to those looking for a horror film off the beaten path both because of it's role in shaping future slashers and the timeless quality of the direction and writing. A few other favorite suggestions, perhaps slightly less accessible, would be Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve / Bay of Blood and Argento's Susperia. Jeff Liberman's Just Before Dawn rates highly as well.

Comedy - Shaolin Soccer - twice in my life I've been enjoying a film solo and had to stop it mid-way through in order to call my friends and implore them to hunt it down. Stephen Chow's sublimely silly SPFX-driven comedy reps one such instance. Unapologetically formulaic and chocked with wall-to-wall eye candy, this is a film that pummels the dreaded subtitle barrier by being ri-Goddamned-diculously fun. With Chow having signed on to direct and co-star in the big screen adaptation of The Green Hornet alongside Seth Rogan, Shaolin might just come in handy when your friends want to know a little more about the man behind Kato's mask. Fatih Akin's In July is another go-to here.

Suspense - The Conversation - it's amazing that, after years of building overdue plaudits and a renewed interest in '70s American cinema as of late, Coppola's slow-burn suspense-drama hybrid about a paranoid surveillance expert (played pitch-perfect by Gene Hackman) is still so under-the-radar for most viewers. Coppola's in full command of the medium here, translating Harry Caul's (Hackman) increasingly tenuous grip on reality into an escalating series of vice-like set pieces set around a fog-drenched San Francisco. Outstanding support work from a list that includes Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, and John Cazale helps raise the bar.

Action - Fulltime Killer - time was one of John Woo's HK classics would've filled this bill, but to me there isn't any real question anymore – Johnny To's films manage to be just as kinetic with characters more involving and developed than anything Woo ever managed, even in his hey-day. One of To's first films to receive a solid release outside of Hong Kong, Killer packs a compelling love story into one of Milky Way's more action-packed offerings. The Infernal Affairs trilogy and SPL rep two more outstanding instances of Hong Kong's new wave sure to impress action fans weaned on more prosaic fare.

Drama - Head-On - Another from Fatih Akin. I've had positive returns from two out of three recommendations for the German helmer's 2004 drama, a ScreenAnarchy favorite. It's a tough slough, following the trials of a star-crossed couple over multiple marriages and tragedies. Broken into chapters, Akin uses the film's structure to explore the differences between his characters' cultures (as with many of his films, Akin uses Head On to examine issues between neighbors Germany and Turkey). I like to point those looking for something a little rougher around the edges toward the Pusher trilogy.

And what about you, fellow ScreenAnarchy-o-philes? When someone asks you for a recommendation or two, what are your favorites?

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Peter K.January 1, 2009 1:53 AM

I love Johnnie To, but I cannot stand Fulltime Killer. It was the first To film I saw and it nearly made me avoid the rest of his work. Thankfully that didn't happen.

Films I like recommending for those categories are:
Horror: Don't Look Now
Comedy: The Ruling Class
Suspense: A Man Escaped
Action: The Rundown (for a film people won't expect to be good)
Drama: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (still criminally underseen)

Some other categories:
Children's Film: The Monster Squad
Science Fiction: Dark Star
WTF Film: Funky Forest: The First Contact
Animated Film: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut
Creature Feature: Deep Rising
Documentary: The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On

DigitalfantastiqueJanuary 1, 2009 2:01 AM

Great list...

I managed a video store for ten years in NYC so this stuff is in my blood...

This is my list for film lovers who have seen everything and want something new...

1. Get Carter - The music, the mystery, the methodic way Michael Caine kicks ass, this is a perfect movie.
2. Danger: Diabolik - Mario Bava made such fun, colorful films. Many people mock this film but I think it is a blast.
3. Khuda Gawah - A Bollywood film about leaders of rival tribes who fall in love but have to overcome serious obstacles to be together.
4. Last Life in the Universe - Like cinematic poetry, this quiet and beautiful film is made only more so by Christopher Doyle's cinematography and Asano Tadanobu's acting.
5. Spider Forest - Soon Il-Gon's noir-ish nightmare is hypnotic and riveting and one I revisit often. Love this movie!
6. Le Samourai - Melville's was truly the master of crime drama and Alain Deloin is the coolest killer on film.
7. The Stratosphere Girl - This movie is a hybrid of many things, part mystery, part strange love story, part dream, but it is so unusual and original that it has pushed it's way into my favorite films list.
8. Brotherhood of the Wolf - I know many people have seen this, but those who haven't cannot die without seeing it.
9. The Island at the Top of the World - If you have kids and are a kid yourself at heart and love lost Viking civilizations hidden at the top of the world, see this now.
10. War Gods of the Deep - Vincent Price and a lost civilization beneath the sea.

pochiWJanuary 1, 2009 4:54 AM

{{ in love with peter k's list }}

methosbJanuary 1, 2009 12:22 PM

Arg I forgot The Constant Gardener in the drama bit. Too many good dramas...

Ben UmsteadJanuary 1, 2009 1:30 PM

uhh let me finish. Timecrimes' director Nacho Vigalondo has done some insanely simple and clever shorts like Crash. And they're online:

http://blog.spout.com/2008/12/04/nacho-vigalondo-the-best-of-his-youtube-videos/

Niels MatthijsJanuary 1, 2009 6:20 PM

> Being a “movie person” has, among its many perks, a great big plus in that people will often come knocking for cinematic suggestions.

It ain't like that for me ... at all. I'm the guy with the creepy taste in film you better ignore when you want to watch something on a nice quiet Tuesday evening. I never have people asking me for recommends, people learn quick it seems :p

panikJanuary 2, 2009 1:46 AM

Whats with the influx of these "list" posts.
Twitch for news, personal blog for lists please...or at least the twitch forum.

Movie snobs and their ego's...jesus

The fact is almost everyone will rate your opinion less then anything you rate on your list.

"I second that one, people just see me as “that guy with weird taste”."

Im pretty sure its something else they are thinking, if you are indeed thought of at all.

Ard VijnJanuary 2, 2009 3:07 AM

Panik,

Collin Armstrong is a fellow editor for Twitch, has been for years in fact (longer than me). As far as I know of, you're not. Do not tell him what ought to be on the Twitch main site or in the forum.

In case you hadn't noticed the Twitch-O-Meter is all about lists, and it is the one place on the main page where we can talk about opinions, older movies or anything else which strikes our fancy.

In short, it's an editorial. Our one and only weekly column. If it bothers you that much, rejoice: there is only one each week. And nobody forces you to read it.
So don't make as if you are suddenly swamped by these lists.


But if you were referring to all of those "year's end" lists, rejoice again: that happens only once a year.
;-)

ChevalierAguilaJanuary 2, 2009 5:17 AM

Oh, i'm perfectly aware that i'm a movie snob, and have no problem with that at all.

Collin ArmstrongJanuary 2, 2009 7:33 AM

Thanks Ard :)

Seriously, I think the ToM columns are a great part of the site and have really evolved over time - they often encourage the more discussion among readers and contributors than the straight news pieces. Due to a number of reasons (all good, thankfully) my contributions to the site have been way down as of late but I never miss a ToM because they're so much fun and a great way to get readers talking. If you don't enjoy them, just avoid them and stick to the news pieces - don't piss on our picnic.

Good lists everybody - some great stuff on there. A friend recommended STRATOSPHERE GIRL to me recently and I loved it. Can't believe I had missed out on it before.

GeekOfEvilJanuary 2, 2009 8:06 AM

Well if we're going for the eyebrow-raising factor, these few have given me sufficient results:

Baise-Moi
The Centre Of The World
Zombie Flesh Eaters
Lost Highway
The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie
Bad Boy Bubby

Peter CornelissenJanuary 2, 2009 8:38 AM

ooh I'll have a go at this; love lists

Horror: the Signal (was pleasantly surprised by this one this year)
Comedy: Lebowski is the one everyone should have already seen, Zoolander would be my recommendation
Suspense: Bound
Action: Should be something from HK as a lot of people still too often ignore films if they are not in color, not from after 1980 and not from Hollywood. Lot's of stuff to choose from still, I'd go for something recent: Exiled
Drama: the Hours

I could also go for the "look at my obscure knowledge" kinda list

Horror: night of the devils
Comedy: head (as this is al just from the top of mine)
Suspense: the corruption of chris miller
Action: the bastard swordsman
Drama: girlfriend - someone please stop the world

methosbJanuary 2, 2009 11:11 AM

I love the end of year top 10s they always tell me of the good movies I have missed :)

Then I make a list and try and find them all.

anton_esJanuary 2, 2009 7:23 PM

apart from the usual suspects mentioned above:

- Krieg der knöpfe (La Guerre des boutons)
- Tampopo

Kurt HalfyardJanuary 3, 2009 2:00 AM

ChevalierAguila - AMEN TO THAT!

(And everyone should see HEAD-ON mentioned above; that film is fabulous. (The Conversation absolutely deserves its reputation, my favourite Coppola film, perhaps the perfect accessible film-snob movie.

gambitnightwingJanuary 3, 2009 4:30 AM

War Film: The Dirty Dozen

cyclopsrockJanuary 3, 2009 12:09 PM

WTF: Hausu
Romance: Maldeamores
Comedy: Quick Change
Classic: Vertigo
Horror: The Serpent and the Rainbow
Drama: Dead Man's Shoes
Kids: The Adventures of Mark Twain
Thriller: Das Experiment
Documentary: My Best Fiend Klaus Kinski

And I third (fourth?) The Conversation. So so so good.

marcelbJanuary 4, 2009 1:22 AM

Documentary should be Paradise Lost, ofcourse.

artemisia.linkJanuary 4, 2009 1:32 AM

I'm with the three who've posted already on being looked at as a freak... No one asks me to recommend movies, and there are always *groans* when the question comes up. But all I really want my friends to do is watch Dead Alive/Braindead with me! I'm definitely going to check out some of these recs I've not seen yet--thanks!

Kurt HalfyardJanuary 5, 2009 2:05 AM

marcelb. Paradise Lost is pretty compelling stuff as documentaries go, and the sequel is highly recommended too (nice package is available these days on DVD). But really, for accessible/arty documentary, FAST, CHEAP, AND OUT OF CONTROL is the darwinian ideal 'gateway doc'!!