Showing posts with label guilty pleasures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guilty pleasures. Show all posts

19 August 2017

Jewels From the Bargain Bin



by John M. Floyd


Like many of you, I was shocked and saddened by the recent passing of our friend B.K. Stevens. I can't remember when she and I first met face-to-face--one of the Bouchercons--but we've exchanged (literally) hundreds of emails over the years. I miss her deeply. It was I who, with the blessing of our board, invited her to join SleuthSayers a couple of years ago, and I believe she enjoyed the group. I know I always looked forward to her insights--Bonnie was one of those writers who seemed always to to be able to find the humor in this crazy pastime of ours. I'm pleased that her fictional characters will live on, and I look forward to discovering or re-reading her many stories in back issues of AHMM and other publications. Once again, deepest condolences to Dennis and the rest of her family. 



Not that it matters, but my post today involves one of the many subjects that Bonnie and I often discussed . . .

I've always loved movies. I grew up in a town too small to have a traffic light, much less a theatre (actually it did have a rickety wooden building that screened what my granddad called "serials," with John Wayne and Tom Mix, but it burned down when I was four or five), so the first cinematic experiences I really remember are the movies my parents or my older cousins took me to in our two nearest "cities," one seven miles west and the other twelve miles east. I can still recall the names of some of those thrilling adventures: The Missouri Traveler, Operation Mad Ball, Old Yeller, Fire Down Below, Calamity Jane, The Seven Year Itch, The Lion and the Horse, Bend of the River, and so on. Later, I devoured movies at every opportunity, in high school, college, and the Air Force, and since by that time I could also see them regularly on TV, I furthered my addiction at home, late at night. Even now, I spend way too much time in front of either the big or small screen (mostly small, via Netflix, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime Video). I'm hooked--what can I say?

A couple of weeks ago I watched two films I'd somehow never gotten around to seeing: Waterloo Bridge (recommended by Paul Marks) and In a Lonely Place. I liked them both. I've also recently re-watched familiar favorites like L. A. Confidential, Apocalypse Now, The Big Country, Raising Arizona, and Aliens. And, in so doing, it occurred to me that most people's favorite films are probably those that are well-known: the Citizen Kanes, Godfathers, Chinatowns, Casablancas, Fargos, Vertigos, etc. They're great movies, yes, but they're supposed to be. They're classics.

What I especially enjoy, though, is to "discover," either by accident or through the recommendations of friends (thanks again, Paul!), good movies that I've not heard about, or that I didn't think I would like. The following is a list of a round 100 of those "pleasant surprises." Most are those that you might find in the six-foot-diameter, three-to-five-dollar DVD bin at Walmart, but I liked 'em all. And yes, I know I wrote a similar column about guilty-pleasure movies earlier this year, and this list recycles some of those--but more than half of these are new entries. (I've dug through a great many of those discount bins since then.)

Anyhow, if you're ever stuck for something new to watch, give one of these lesser-known gems a try:


From Noon to Three (1976)
The Rocketeer (1991)
Sands of the Kalahari (1965)
Park (2006)
Born Losers (1967)
Magic (1978)
A Family Thing (1996)
The Hanging Tree (1959)
Melancholia (2011)
Used Cars (1980)
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
The Gypsy Moths (1969)
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)
Duck, You Sucker (1971)
The Last Sunset (1961)
The Dish (2000)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2007)
Waterhole #3 (1967)
Proof (2005)
The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)
The Spanish Prisoner (1997)
Ghost World (2001)
Remo Willians--the Adventure Begins (1985)
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)
The Professionals (1966)
Dillinger (1973)
A History of Violence (2005)
Cloverfield Lane (2015)
In Bruge (2008)
Vanishing Point (1971)
What's Up, Doc? (1972)
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Island in the Sky (1953)
Good Neighbor Sam (1964)
Pawn Shop Chronicles (2013)
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
Cashback (2006)
Copland (1997)
The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
Lockout (2012)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
Red Rock West (1993)
An Unfinished Life (2005)
Edge of Darkness (2010)
Third Man on the Mountain (1959)
Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
Game Change (2012)
A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
Killer Joe (2011)
Idiocracy (2006)
Nebraska (2013)
What About Bob? (1991)
Mystery Road (2013)
Frequency (2000)
Big (1988)
The Sea of Trees (2015)
Leap of Faith (1992)
The Dead Zone (1983)
The Mexican (2001)
The Great Train Robbery (1979)
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
Across the Universe (2007)
The History of the World, Part I (1981)
Brassed Off (1996)
Lady in the Water (2006)
Top Secret! (1984)
Ransom (1996)
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
16 Blocks (2006)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)
The Cooler (2003)
Seven Men From Now (1956)
Hidalgo (2004)
The Book of Eli (2010)
True Romance (1993)
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
Always (1989)
Heaven's Prisoners (1996)
Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
Manhunter (1986)
Silver Bullet (1985)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Secondhand Lions (2003)
Nobody's Fool (1994)
Dead Again (1991)
Will Penny (1967)
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Nevada Smith (1966)
Necessary Roughness (1991)
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
The Edge (1997)
A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966)
Rustler's Rhapsody (1985)
The Great Race (1965)
Undercover Brother (2002)
The Salvation (2014)
The Flim-Flam Man (1967)
Stripes (1981)


If you've heard of some of these, I'm pleased--not many are instantly recognizable. But I think they're worth your while. Some have won awards, many are technically excellent, and a few will make you laugh or cry. If you do watch any of them on my recommendation and they make you laugh or cry for the wrong reasons (believe me, I've seen a lot of those, too), I apologize. My taste is sometimes a little weird.

Here's the question of the day: Do you have any obscure favorites you can point me to? I received a lot of great suggestions from your comments, last time.

My Netflix queue awaits your replies . . .











01 April 2017

Guilty Pleasures



by John M. Floyd




Anyone who posts regularly at blogs like this knows that ideas for topics can come from unexpected places. Today's column is the result of recent discussions I've had with my friend and fellow SleuthSayer Paul D. Marks, who--God help us both--is as obsessed with movies as I am. We've been emailing each other about some recent movies we've seen and why we liked them and why we sometimes prefer the old ones to the new, and so forth. We even decided to exchange lists of favorites, and mine include, predictably, some of the greats--Casablanca, To Kill a Mockingbird, Double Indemnity, Goldfinger, Psycho, The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, etc.

But . . . they also contain a lot that were not so great, and certainly not critically acclaimed. Why, then, did I like them? Why would I spend two hours watching something that probably provides little or no educational value, food for thought, lessons about life, or the broadening of any kind of horizon? My answer: because they're fun. Let's face it, when you sit down to watch something called Snakes on a Plane, you know you're not getting Citizen Kane or The Grapes of Wrath. But sometimes those crazy movies just hit the spot. They're sort of like Hostess Twinkies--I know they're not good for me but I scarf 'em down anyhow.


Diamonds in the rough

The following, in no particular order, are some of my cinematic "guilty pleasures." The funny thing is, they're all movies that, before I saw them, I thought I wouldn't like.

NOTE 1: Some of these actually are high-quality, big-budget movies--but most are not. Very few were mentioned in awards ceremonies. Ask me if I care.

NOTE 2: The films I've marked with asterisks are some of those that I could watch over and over and over again. And I do.

Idiocracy
Get the Gringo
*Rustler's Rhapsody
Seven Psychopaths
Dumb and Dumber
*Bubba Ho-Tep
*A Life Less Ordinary
The Pawn Shop Chronicles
Cashback
Trollhunter
Zathura
Spaceballs
*Used Cars
Undercover Brother
The Postman
Captain Ron
*Silver Bullet
True Lies
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Me, Myself, and Irene
*Cowboys and Aliens
Liar Liar
My Name Is Nobody
Billy Jack
*Under Siege
*Hot Shots, Part Deux
Payback
Open Water
*Escape From New York
Last Man Standing
What About Bob?
The Mist
Kings of the Sun
Australia
The History of the World, Part I
Overboard
*Texas Across the River
The Great Race
Welcome to the Jungle
*Office Space
Lockout
*Lady in the Water
The Night Flier
The Hudsucker Proxy
The Betsy
*Waterhole #3
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Sahara
*Galaxy Quest
The Quick and the Dead (1995)
A Million Ways to Die in the West
*Blazing Saddles
*Cat People (1982)
Vanishing Point
Forgiving the Franklins
*The Book of Eli
Kentucky Fried Movie
The Mothman Prophecies
Necessary Roughness


Non-so-guilty pleasures

One of the thrills of watching movies, to me, is occasionally stumbling across one that you've heard nothing about beforehand, and discovering that it's better than many of those that have been hyped to high heaven. These under-the-radar jewels are those that, once you see them, you remember forever.

Add-on category: excellent movies that no one seems to have heard about:

An Unfinished Life
Killer Joe
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Medicine Man
The Gypsy Moths
The Flim Flam Man
Holes
The Last Sunset
Magic
The Spanish Prisoner
The Ballad of Cable Hogue
Apocalypto
Edge of Darkness
The Cooler
True Romance
From Noon to Three
Red Rock West
The Man From Elysian Fields
The Gods Must Be Crazy
Bone Tomahawk
Sands of the Kalahari
In Bruges
Blood Simple
The Lookout
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
A History of Violence
This Property Is Condemned
Eye of the Needle
The Sea of Trees
Someone to Watch Over Me
The Molly Maguires
Out of Sight
Amelie
Jack the Giant Slayer
The Water Diviner
Mountains of the Moon
The Salvation
Mud
The Chase
The Blue Max
Stranger Than Fiction
Leap of Faith
Heaven's Prisoners
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
Brassed Off
Sorcerer
Runaway Train
Always
Hearts in Atlantis
The Homesman
Muriel's Wedding


Q and A

What movies have you seen, that might fit into either of these lists? Can you relate to my delight in uncovering good ones that I'd never heard about before? Do you sometimes find yourself disappointed when you see unsatisfying movies that the critics have all said were great? Do you
ever start watching one that you're sure you'll hate and find yourself enjoying it? Do you sometimes hate to admit you enjoyed it? Do you agree that I probably need to find better things to do with my time?

In closing, I should mention that I like a wide range of movies, from Notting Hill to Goodfellas, from Star Wars to Driving Miss Daisy, from Raising Arizona to Django Unchained. And the same goes for my taste in stories and novels and TV shows. I still write mostly mystery fiction, but I'll read and watch almost anything.

Bleary-eyed and poor, yes. Guilty, no.

Pass the popcorn . . .




News flash: Two weeks from today, in my April 15 column, I'll be interviewing my old friend Gerald So, former president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. We'll talk about crime-related poetry (which, if you haven't tried it, is great fun to read AND write). I hope you'll tune in and help me welcome Gerald to SleuthSayers!

And congratulations to all the Derringer Award nominees!