MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies: The Mark of Zorro

I went on a long writing retreat in May. We were gone on May 4 (Star Wars Day) and May 5 (Cinco de Mayo). Being the total geeks we are, we decided to cook corresponding meals and watch relative movies on those two days.

Star Wars went off without a hitch.

We planned to watch The Mask of Zorro (with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones) from 1998 for Cinco de Mayo, even though the movie has nothing to do with Mexico or the battle commemorated on that date. But someone accidentally grabbed a colorized version of  the 1940 The Mark of Zorro (Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone, Linda Darnell) from the library. We decided to watch it anyway.

Parts of the movie  reminded several of us of The Scarlet Pimpernel. At one point, someone shouted, “Look! It’s the Dread Pirate Roberts!” (The Princess Bride).  Regardless, we laughed and enjoyed this gem of a motion picture. Tyrone Power was a dashing hero. Linda Darnell was insipid, but because the character was written that way.  Basil Rathbone was a delightful villain.

If you get a chance to see this movie, I highly recommend it.

 

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-The Big Lebowski

Several years ago, a supervisor at my Day Job mentioned a long sweater I kept in at my work cubicle. He called it my Big Lebowski sweater. I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, “Really? You should watch the movie. You’ll love it.”

I hate being predictable.

A few years later, a co-worker made an obscure reference to the movie, then said, “You’ve never seen it? I’m shocked. You’d love it.”

I really hate being that predictable. 

I mentioned these conversations to my husband at some later date. He said, “Oh, I have it here. I’ve been meaning to watch it. How about tonight?”

We laughed our butts off.

The Big Lebowski is a movie you either love or hate. I tried to share it with my critique group, but they got twitchy only a few minutes in.

According to the Internet Movie Database:

Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire of the same name, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.

The movie is so much more. There’s a pot head, a convert to Judaism with anger issues, a bowling league,  a slutty trophy wife,  nihilists, and a couple of guys who pee on rugs.

The cast is incredible: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Sam Elliot, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and John Turturro. The amazing Cohen Brothers wrote and directed it.

It’s definitely a cult classic.

The Dude abides.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-The Little Shop of Horrors

Many years ago, when I was working in local TV, my general manager called me into his office and said, “I have a kitchen set for you. I’ve hired a host. Here’s your budget. Make me a TV show where guests hosts come on and cook while watching movies.”

I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Bad movies. Bad horror movies. The black-and-white motion pictures I grew up loving. I don’t like what passes for horror movies these. I prefer the absurd. 

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Little Shop of Horrors. No, not the campy musical version with Steve Martin, but the original Roger Corman film from 1960.  It’s a terrifically funny movie, which is probably why Frank Oz remade it as a musical in the 1980s.

The original contains a  dreadful, blaring jazzy sound track. Jack Nicholson appears in one of his earliest motion picture performances.  The film is the source of one of my favorite quotes: “Feed me. I’m hungry.” And when it came time to create the opening graphics for the show, I insisted this line be included. What better for a cooking show?

I never realized the movie is now considered a cult classic until recently. It’s been redefined as a black comedy. That’s fair. I never knew Roger Corman had a following until I was much older, and even then, I didn’t realize Little Shop was one of his.

Apparently I have very good instincts.

 

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-Lars & The Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl is one of those quirky movies a person either loves or hates.  I loved it; one of my critique partners loathed it and found it disturbing. But we frequently disagree on movies.

Ryan Gosling stars as a young man in a northern Minnesota town who is searching for true love. He’s also battling his way out of depression. He orders a blow-up sex doll on line and introduces her around town as his girlfriend, Bianca, a wheelchair-bound missionary.

As I said: quirky.

But not kinky. There’s no sex involved. Lars is deeply religious and Bianca is a missionary. Lars’s depression isolates him from human interaction. Once his brother and sister-in-law get on board with treating Bianca as “real”, the rest of the town follows suit . How the townspeople react to and accept Bianca helps Lars connect to others and heal.

I found it very sweet.

Perhaps I liked the story because the town in which I grew up looked after a family of intellectually disabled people.  Maybe outsiders didn’t understand why Henry/Hank  (depending on which side of town you lived) was allowed to wear out the grass under the big tree on the corner outside the Presbyterian church, but he sat there for years, being social. Some folks called him the mayor.  And Eddie was a particular favorite of the children who visited his grandfather’s front porch to purchase penny candy.

If you like offbeat and sweet, try Lars & the Real Girl.

 

 

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-Snow Cake

Welcome to the debut of MJ’s Movies, where once a month–the second Monday–I’ll talk about a motion picture.

I tend to like quirky, off-beat movies. A friend recommended SNOW CAKEa 2006 independent release starring Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver.

This movie should be better known than it is.

Weaver plays a high-functioning autistic woman and Rickman plays a man who “accidentally” comes into her life for a brief moment.  Wikipedia calls the movie a romantic comedy, while IMDb classifies it as a drama.  Amazon.com says:

Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver form the quintessential indie-film odd couple in this intimately observed drama that makes a memorable detour from the usual high-concept, special effects-laden studio fare.”

So, so true. Parts are funny; parts are sad; it’s all compelling.

I was lucky because my library has a DVD available.

This movie should have gotten more attention than it received, if for no other reasons than Rickman and Weaver.

If you’re able to get your hands on a copy, grab and watch it. You shouldn’t be disappointed.