But these days, I like my romance a little less traditional and a whole lot more funny (though you really can’t get much funnier than When Harry Met Sally, can you?), with more humor than drama. Maybe it’s because, as an adult, I’ve got enough drama on my hands to deal with without squirming over whether or not Tom will meet Meg at the top of the Empire State Building. Though I still love my old favorites, here are the newest feel-good “chick flicks” (I hate that term, but that’s pretty much what they are) that I think are great depressed/sick/etc. cure-alls.
In between mainstream hits and cult favorites, there's a narrow category of movies that didn't get a lot of love when they first screened but gradually became a part of the pop cultural canon for a respectably wide audience. Amy Heckerling's 1984 comedy Johnny Dangerously is such a movie. While it can't really be called a flop in the proper sense, it didn't exactly set the world on fire when it first hit theaters. Only though continued exposure on cable TV and reliable availability on home video did Johnny Dangerously get the viewership it deserved.
As a critic and as a viewer, I can appreciate that different genres of film have different obligations to the audience, so it's really not fair to judge all genres on the same metric. For the price of my ticket, as long as the movie about aliens has good visual effects, sustained tension and a script that doesn't rely on snarky one-liners, I'm satisfied. So, when a movie like District 9 comes along that manages to do that plus a really compelling story and just the right amount of social commentary, I'm thrilled.
Sometimes movies deserve a retrial in the court of popular opinion. Consider me Counsel for the Defense. This is The Misunderstood.
Today's Defendant: Ralph Bakshi's 1992 bomb Cool World.
Plea: Not guilty by reason of mis-casting, improper marketing and studio meddling.
Because the New Classics column is mostly concerned with movies of the 80's, certain names are going to come up more than once. Two of those names are associated with today's entry, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. What may be the best high school movie ever made, Fast Times (title truncated for brevity and not to be confused with the horrible attempted TV adaption of the same name) had a couple of powerhouses behind it, at least powerhouses in the world of movies about high school. Written by a 25-year-old Cameron Crowe and directed by underrated comedic talent Amy Heckerling, this film has remained relevant long after its target audience grew up, got jobs and became decidedly square.
Some directors have such a distinct authorial voice that their work inhabits its own category. They can be shoehorned into a given set of genres and tentatively targeted at certain audiences, but in the end they're just dipping proverbial toes into those taxons. Such is the case with the work of David Lynch, an American director and screenwriter whose approach to filmmaking is so unlike anyone else's that his films can only truly be described as "David Lynch movies". Mixing nightmarish surrealism with highly figurative storytelling and an obvious love of Old Hollywood, Lynch is not a director for neophytes. A lot of viewers get turned off by the overt weirdness of his more recent projects or the sheer abrasiveness of his early student work, so there's definitely a right and a wrong way to dive into Lynch's supremely unusual canon. Here's a handy guide for the intrigued.
As years roll on, film buffs identify those movies of the past that have retained enough charm to be considered classics. But what actually makes a film worthy of that illustrious canon? With more movies being produced every year in a studio system that favors quick returns over artistic merit, the gems get buried a little more each season. It's now up to current movie lovers to find those films that have been around just long enough to escape the zeitgeist of when they were made and decide whether or not they're true classics. My criteria for The New Classics are simple: A nominated film has to have been made between 1979 and 1989, and it must also have achieved notoriety in its time. I have my own list, but feel free to nominate films in our comments section for future entries.
Take Ratatouille, for example. We adore this movie—but it’s got two scenes with guns in it! Surely parents should be worrying less about the amount of swearing or nudity in a film when firearms are in it? I’d much rather see a buttock or hear “Damn!” (as you will hear in films such as The Last Unicorn or The Secret of Nimh, by the way) than see guns going off in a children’s movie.