Good Afternoon. I am Gigi the Parti poodle, owner of a novelist. As you know I have been steadily working on my own written works. I do a lot of speedwriting to help me get my thoughts out on paper. I have also written down a list of different log lines and concept ideas of which I am going to pick one and tell my tale. It has been going smashingly as I have a vivid imagination, uncommon talent for a Canis Lupus Familiaris. I may even be able to call myself a published writer one day. My novelist has been typing up my work on her computer and saving it in a file which I have been given permissions to access. It is lovely seeing my gorgeous prose sprawled out across the screen. Being involved in my work is taxing on my time. For instance, I cannot simply stop writing and go discipline the Maltese. I fear he may be getting away with more than he should. I might have to bark at him harshly and give his ear a good nip. Alas, I hear the word processer calling my name. But before I go, here is my novelist.
Greetings! This week I thought I’d post ten more films that are difficult to get on streaming. What I mean by that is they are not available on a streaming service like Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO Max etc. But I thought because they are all excellent films and worth a watch, if you can get them on disk or even find them in a different manner take advantage and give them a watch. Again, I realize this list is subject to change because what is available on streaming is always in flux. But for now, here is the list:
The Full Monte (1997)- Sometimes the Oscars will make a serendipitous nomination not only for Best Screenplay but also for Best Picture and shed light on something like this remarkable little gem. One thing you might notice in all the movies in this short series is that they nail their endings. This film nails its ending with a jackhammer. Set in Sheffield, South Yorkshire England where the once successful steel mills have closed, unemployed steelworkers, mostly men, are getting more and more desperate and question their value both personally and professionally. Then one day a Chippendale’s striptease act comes to town. Gary “Gaz” Schofield (Robert Carlyle) whose wife has left him and is trying to get sole custody of their son Nathan, notes how many women line up to see the show. Realizing the profitability of a male striptease act he encourages his overweight friend Dave Horsefall (Mark Addy) to help him recruit a dance group who include a suicidal security guard named Lomper (Steve Huison) and their older former foreman Gerald Arthur Cooper whom they find out takes dance classes with his wife Linda (Deirdre Costello). The four men hold auditions and recruit older but talented Barrington “Horse” Mitchell (Paul Barber) and attractive young Guy (Hugo Speer). The six men begin practicing their routine which becomes altered after Gaz brags to a couple of local women who are putting up advertisements for the next Chippendales show that his group is better because they go “the full monte”.
A History of Violence (2005)- This fantastic action-thriller written by Josh Olson who received an Academy Award nomination is based on the graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and directed by David Cronenberg. In a small town called Millbrook, Indiana lives a mild-mannered diner owner named Tom Stall, his strongminded lawyer wife Edie (Maria Bellow) and their two children teenager Jack and young daughter Sarah. One night while closing his cafe, two killers come in to rob the place. To everyone’s surprise Tom kills both men expertly. At first the incident seems like freak luck…until a gangster named Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris) shows up claiming Tom is not who he seems.
The Hustler (1961)- One of the finest films ever made but not easily found on streaming. Based on Walter Tevis’s fantastic novel and starring Paul Newman in his greatest performance ever, this classic has been called “A Greek Tragedy played out in pool halls”. “Fast” Eddy Felson (Paul Newman in an Oscar nominated performance) is a talented but reckless pool player hustling his way from joint to joint who dreams of playing and beating the best of the best Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason in his Oscar nominated performance). After finally getting a game with the champ Eddy plays and ultimately loses to him. Devastated, he wanders into a bus station where he meets intelligent but handicap Sarah Packard (Piper Laurie in an Oscar nominated performance). The two are smitten with each other until Eddy allows agent Bert Gordon (George C. Scott in an Oscar nominated performance) to bank roll him.
Red Rock West (1993)- This modern film noir has a great cast and is a whole lot of fun! John Dahl (Rounders and The Last Seduction) co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Rick and directed this smart tale about a Texan named Michael (Nicholas Cage) who travels to Montana for a job on an oil drilling crew. When the job falls through, he finds himself mistaken for a hitman by a man named Wayne (J.T. Walsh) who believes he hired him to kill his wife Suzanne (Laura Flynn Boyle). But Suzanne is onto her husband’s plan and offers Michael money to kill Wayne instead…until the real hitman Lyle (Dennis Hopper) finally shows up.
Bad Santa (2003)- What would the holiday season be without this classic? Directed by Terry Zwigoff it’s the uplifting story of a drunken safe-cracking conman named Willie (brilliantly portrayed by Billy Bob Thorton) and his partner in crime dwarf mastermind Marcus (Tony Cox) who dress up as Santa and an elf respectively every Christmas, get a gig at a department store and rob it on Christmas Eve. Every year Willie swears he’s retiring and by the time the holiday season rolls around he’s broke again and forced to play the Grinch…until one year he meets a likeable bartender named Sue (Lauren Graham) and moves into the house of a plucky but tortured boy known only as The Kid (Brent Kelly) and his grandmother (Cloris Leachman) whom he planned to rob.
Repulsion (1965)- Here is a film that messed me up for days when I first saw it. I recommend it highly. A young beautiful innocent Belgian immigrant named Carol (fantastically played by Catherine Deneuve) lives in London with her older sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux) and works as a manicurist. Carol is introverted, says little and as Helen puts it is “sensitive”. Helen has a typical a-hole boyfriend named Michael (Ian Hendry) who really ticks quiet Carol off. Carol just wants to be left alone but in addition to having Michael at the apartment more than she’d like she also must deal with a likeable but clueless suiter named Colin (John Fraser) who is captivated by her. And then Helen and Michael make the brilliant decision to take off on a weekend trip to Pisa, Italy and leave Carol alone in the apartment. That’s when the real fun begins. Masterfully written and directed by Roman Polanski and shot in glorious black and white this is one of the most terrifying films you may ever see. And not for the reasons you think.
The Lookout (2007)-This is a great little crime thriller with a lot of depth and compassion. All the performances are great and the stellar script with a terrific premise “Whoever has the money has the power” was written by Scott Frank who also directed. Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a high school star hockey player from a well to do family with a promising future ahead of him…until one night when he takes his girlfriend, his best friend and his friend’s date out for a drive to show his lady the fireflies. The event leaves Chris brain damaged working as a janitor for a bank and living with a blind roommate named Lewis (Jeff Daniels) who sells flower bouquets over the telephone. Into Chris’s life comes an old high school classmate asthmatic Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) who introduces Chris to the beautiful but questionable Luvlee Lemons (Isla Fisher) and presents a proposition to Chris which Chris believes will turn his life around…or will it?
Easier with Practice (2009)-Based on an autobiographical GQ article What Are You Wearing? by Davy Rothbart this is a wonderfully unusual film that meditates on loneliness, intimacy, and perception. Introverted novelist Davy Mitchell (Brian Geraghty) is on a road trip with his gregarious womanizing younger brother Sean (Kel O’Neill) going from small bookstore to small bookstore to promote his unpublished book. Davy, though likeable and intelligent has a difficult time communicating with women and after watching his brother score repeatedly, becomes disillusioned and burned out. That is until one night while staying in a cheap motel he gets a call from a stranger, a woman named Nicole. They quickly start a phone sex affair that brightens Davy’s outlook on life. But as their relationship deepens Davy finds he longs for and needs their long-distance affair to become flesh and blood regardless of the consequences.
Zero Effect (1998)- Jake Kasdan wrote and directed this fantastic sleeper shot in Portland, Oregon about a sociophobic private investigator genius named Daryl Zero (phenomenally played by Bill Pullman) who may also be an erotophobic, genophobic, philophobic, and/or sexophobic as well but in a delightfully charming and eccentric way. Zero spends most of his days in his multi-locked apartment that is as secure as Fort Knox. His disgruntled and droll associate Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller) is his one and only connection to the outside world and sets him up with gigs promoting him as “the best private investigator in the world”. Zero’s latest job is for a businessman named Gregory Stark (Ryan O’Neil) who has lost the keys to a safety deposit box and is being blackmailed by an unknown person.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)- The best weirdest film you’ll probably ever see. Based on the novella by Joe R. Lansdale, Elvis Presly (Bruce Campbell who is great here) is alive and well living in a nursing home along with John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis). Elvis claims he got tired of being famous and switched places with an Elvis impersonator named Sebastian Half. He really doesn’t like being old and spends much of his time pondering his life and being patronized by The Nurse (Ella Joyce) and longs for purpose in his old age. Into his life comes a cursed mummy named Bubba Ho-Tep (Bob Ivy) who begins consuming the souls of the nursing home’s elderly residents. When Bubba attacks Elvis, Elvis fends him off and afterwards enlists Kennedy to help him triumph over the evil creature.
You can check out my books Chicane and the first two books in my Musicology book series Musicology: Volume One, Baby!, Musicology: Volume Two, Kid!, and Musicology Volume Three, Twist! on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback editions. You can also check out Musicology’s web site at www.musicologyrocks.com and vote for who you think will will Musicology!!!
STREAM OF THE WEEK- UNTAMED HEART (1993) HBO Max
Continuing with my Valentine theme here is a wonderful little film with a lot of heart and poignancy. Set in Minneapolis, Minnesota, beauty school student Caroline (Marisa Tomei) makes ends meet as a waitress where she works with her wisecracking friend Cindy (Rosie Perez), a dishwasher named Adam (Christian Slater) and her boss Jim (Joe Minjares). Caroline has a bad habit of picking one loser guy after another and finds herself alone during the Christmas season after her newest boyfriend dumps her. One night a couple of guys come into the café where Caroline works and harass her. Caroline is the closing waitress and after the guys leave, she walks home as usual. But once she gets part way home the two guys who harassed her show up planning to rape her. She attempts to fight them off until one of them knocks her unconscious. Unbeknownst to all of them Caroline has a stalker who has been following them and throws an unexpected wrench into the situation.
SMART MOVIES FOR SMART KIDS: SURF’S UP (2007)-Netflix
This wonderfully droll animated feature tells the story of young up and coming rock hopper penguin Cody Maverick (Shia LeBeouf) as he prepares to compete in the Big Z Memorial surfing competition on Pen-Gu Island. He meets fellow surfer Chicken Joe (Jon Heder) a rooster from Wisconsin. Cody finds himself smitten with gentoo penguin Lani Aliikai who works as a lifeguard. Cody met the surfer Big Z, for which the competition was named for years ago when he was a child. The Big Z gave Cody a necklace and Cody which he has worn ever since. So, when he sees emperor penguin Tank “The Shredder” Evens defacing Big Z’s memorial Cody challenges him to a surf competition and loses badly and loses his precious necklace in the battle. Lani saves the nearly drowned Cody and takes him to her Uncle Geek (Jeff Bridges) who teaches him to be a better surfer.