More Movies

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‘Member when I said I’d put out more movie lists this year? No. 2 coming your way. This is the list of eleven movies (yes eleven: this is a quirky list) you may very well have never heard of but which I quote regularly. See? You’ve been thinking I’ve been being a little free with the vodka when I yell out unrecognizable non-sequitor quotations, haven’t you? Well, you stand corrected. These aren’t classics or on any best lists but they’re excellent entertainment.

  1. Mumford,1999, Lawrence Kasdan (weird, right?) with lots of people you know. A comedy about a guy named Mumford pretending to be a therapist in a town called Mumford.
  2. Home Fries, 1998, Dean Parisot with Drew Barrymore, Luke Wilson and Catherine O’Hara (Best In Show? Anyone?) Incorrectly marketed as a romantic comedy when it’s actually a weird, cheerful black comedy about a knocked-up drive-through-window waitress, the misguided boy who falls in love with her, a military helicopter and a homicidal stepmother.
  3. Happy, Texas, 1999, Mark Illsley. Ex-cons passing themselves off as gay, kiddie-beauty-pageant coaches in small-town Texas. Where else can you find Jeremy Northam, Steve Zahn and William H. Macy all playing light in the loafers?
  4. The Imposters, 1998, Stanley Tucci. It’s on all my lists. Wanna-be actors in the 1920’s end up as stowaways on a cruise ship full of insane people.
  5. Addicted to Love, 1997, Griffin Dunne. Meg Ryan pre-lip-inflation with Matthew Broderick and Tchéky Karyo in a romantic revenge comedy. Imperfect but original. And funny.
  6. A Midwinter’s Tale or In the Bleak Midwinter, 1996, Kenneth Branagh. The most marginal on the list. It’s a slapstick, black and white faux documentary about a production of Hamlet patched together one Christmas. I think Branagh was using it as a workshop before he filmed his full-length Hamlet the next year. Some really excellent actors in it. (Fair warming: Might only be lovable by theaterphiles.)
  7. Hamlet, 1996, Kenneth Branagh. The only un-cut version on film, certainly the only one with serious production values. I imagine Branagh cashed in a lot of favors to get this made. No weird interpretations and thankfully missing the Olivier Oedipal hammer, just the entire play with (mostly) good actors. Brace yourself: 4 and a half hours. Yes, that is Jack Lemmon as one of the guards.
  8. Emma, the BBC version, 1997, Diarmuid Lawrence, with Kate Beckinsale before she went all Hollywood hottie and Mark Strong before he went all evildoer (which he’s very good at, I agree). The most true-to-the-text Emma out there. I should know.
  9. Something to Talk About, 1995, Lasse Hallström. Remarriage comedy with horses and sarcastic southern women (Julia Roberts, Kyra Sedgwick and Gena Rowlands in the role that made me want her to be my bad-ass mom). Also, the only movie in which I have ever liked Robert Duvall.
  10. Stranger Than Fiction, 2006, Marc Forster. Brilliant cast, potentially disastrous concept brilliantly executed. Very, very funny. And touching. But not in that creepy Hollywood way.
  11. Frost/Nixon, 2008, Ron Howard, with Michael Sheen and Frank Langella (and Oliver Platt – hooray!). I know: it’s Ron Howard, so maybe more than eleven people saw it. On the other hand, it was written as an un-filmable play by the excellent Peter Morgan, so maybe not. David Frost interviews Richard Nixon post-Watergate. (What is up with Michael Sheen being so good and still moonlighting as a campy vampire?)
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