One, Please: Essential Stuck at Home Movies

One, Please: Essential Stuck at Home Movies

Jan 13, 2011

It's probably snowing like crazy right now where you are. You're most likely stuck somewhere with canned food and a blanket and boredom. I'm in Los Angeles, where snow is just rain and occasional cold ocean winds, but we're weak people out here in Southern California and that's enough to make us not want to leave the house ourselves.

Complicating it all, even if your weather is nice, is the big cinematic problem of it being January and how most of the movies that come out now are useless. And since the biggest question I get after "Why do film critics hate everything?" and "Who do you think you are, anyway?" and "How do I get your job?" is always, "What's good to watch out there when everything in the actual theaters is barf?" I've compiled a little list of movies I've been telling people to watch on DVD or Netflix Instant or terrible old VHS.

A Wedding
After Nashville Robert Altman went and made another movie with a gigantic cast. It all takes place on one day and includes every single awkward, strange, embarrassing and tragic moment that can take place when two people and a hundred of their closest friends all occupy the same space. At one point in the film, for somewhat mysterious reasons, Mia Farrow takes off her clothes and just smiles into the camera. People were different in the 70s.

The Decline of Western Civilization
Not on DVD or VHS or anything, but you can watch it chopped up into about eight parts on YouTube. (And just as an aside, YouTube is great for that kind of thing. I just found practically everything ever made by Russian avant-garde filmmaker Artavazd Peleshian on there, just in case you were looking to find his work too. You probably weren't, I guess.) Anyway this is the definitive documentary about the early 80s punk rock scene in Los Angeles. It stars Black Flag, Fear, X, Germs, The Circle Jerks and a lot of pissed off teens snarling for the camera.

The Mechanic
If you saw Bronson and were only sort of half-clear on who Tom Hardy's character was obsessed with, here’s a good place to start. Charles Bronson is an assassin who takes the son of his most recent kill and makes him his protégé. And then it all backfires. Or does it? It's a weird, stylish movie and the remake starring Jason Statham comes out later this month. In this original version there's no dialogue for the first 15 minutes while Bronson preps a job. I hope they keep that part.

Set It Off
I just saw The Dilemma and spent most of the film confused by the lack of Queen Latifah. She shows up, goes away, shows up, goes away for longer, shows up, goes away for even longer. And when she's on camera all she gets to do is talk about her "lady wood." No lie, her main function is to make references to her imaginary penis friend. It made me decide to rewatch this, her best movie, where she and Vivica Fox, Kimberly Elise and Jada Pinkett rob banks. And Latifah plays the single baddest lesbian bank robber in the world, a woman who never once has to talk about having boners to make sure you know how tough she is. She just is.

Someone I Touched
The internet sensation of this week is as crazy as you've heard. It's a 1975 TV movie starring Cloris Leachman as a pregnant woman (she was 49 at the time) at the center of a groovy San Fernando Valley syphilis epidemic. See, her man is "making it" (that’s how they talked then) with the local supermarket check-out girl and she gives him the V.D. It's a movie conceived as an all-beige and goldenrod-colored public service announcement and Cloris herself sings the title song. You only thought you liked her best on Dancing With The Stars. You haven't seen anything yet. And you can watch it this second on Netflix Instant.

Categories: Features
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