"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?