In the Valentine's Day post that I composed earlier in February, I mentioned I would return with more general film recommendations for you & I'm a woman of my word so I'm back to serve up some titles that you guys might like to see. To shake things up a little bit - rather than limit myself only to a single channel or two - I've decided to pull from wherever I found something good to press play on. Since libraries are always shifting & films are added & removed all the time & availabilities differ from country to country (& we're fortunate enough to have supporters from England, Australia, & other locales), check out Letterboxd or Just Watch to find anything you're interested in to see where it's playing for you. Still under the weather myself (& solidarity with anyone whose immune system sucks or gets hit by a lingering bug this time of year since winter is notoriously tough), however this post finds you, I hope you'll discover one or more titles to inspire, entertain, &/or distract you as well.
CRISS CROSS (1949) - Criterion Channel: I'm a big fan of the Robert Siodmak noir collection that Criterion Channel uploaded recently because Siodmak might not be as famous as Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Douglas Sirk, or other German filmmakers who left the country ahead of World War II to go to Hollywood & change the face of film history, but he too is a master. Siodmak loved a good romantic fatalistic film noir, & while PHANTOM LADY is forgotten & deserves more love, THE SUSPECT is good for Charles Laughton enthusiasts, & THE KILLERS is iconic, my favorite in the collection is this pitch-black doomed second chance at love crime saga starring Burt Lancaster, Yvonne de Carlo, & Dan Duryea, that was remade decades later by Steven Soderbergh as THE UNDERNEATH. (I covered both in our Crime Movie Remakes episode with Jed Ayres.)
EASY MONEY (2010) - STARZ: One of the films I've recommended the most over the past decade-plus is this awesome Swedish import based upon criminal lawyer turned author Jens Lapidus' STOCKHOLM NOIR trilogy. Fittingly, it's the first in a trio of films starring Joel Kinnaman as a brilliant but poor economics student who poses as well-to-do & runs with the rich & beautiful. Driving cabs all night & doing odd jobs to make ends meet, he soon finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in the criminal underworld. A compelling, fiercely made work that, much like INFERNAL AFFAIRS/THE DEPARTED, Martin Scorsese helped get released in the states (& I believe was interested in remaking it here for a minute), while the second EASY MONEY film is even better, this one is a dynamic, thrilling intro you must see.
FIRE OF LOVE (2022) - Disney+ & Hulu: When I was getting burned out by the typical by-the-numbers style awards-contenders being sent to me for critics org voting at the end of the year, I suddenly opted for something unexpected in the form of Sara Dosa's stunning documentary about the scientifically daring French volcanologist couple Katia & Maurice Krafft, who loved 2 things: volcanoes & each other.
THE HOUSE (2022) - Netflix: An inspired recommendation via a friend of the pod - Donal Logue & his cinephile son - this brilliant slice of dark, mysterious, twisty animation for teens & adults is a three-part anthology film that tells the story of a most twisted house. Although all three sections are highly entertaining, & in fact, the first is downright spooky, the Kafkaesque second installment is especially great.
I CAPTURE THE CASTLE (2003) - Multiple Platforms: Longtime listeners might remember me recommending this film way back in the first season of Watch With Jen, where I dished out 5 film recommendations every week solo (& I believe wound up highlighting 100 excellent movies in 2020). Before Dodie Smith wrote THE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS, she penned this gorgeous coming-of-age novel about a young aspiring British female writer's first experiences with love, heartbreak, & discovering that her parents are human & capable of flaws. With a cast that boasts Romola Garai, Rose Byrne, Bill Nighy, Henry Thomas, Marc Blucas, Tara Fitzgerald, & Henry Cavill (in a tiny but vital role), Tim Fywell's work is sumptuously photographed by Richard Greatrex, & I truly love Dario Marianelli's score. If you dug Gillian Armstrong's MY BRILLIANT CAREER or LITTLE WOMEN, you'll be crazy about this one.
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (2006): I go mini-viral for the strangest reasons sometimes & often it's when I tweet about actors who fall just below the radar enough that we take them for granted & recently, one of those actors was Greg Kinnear. I unintentionally revisited a trio of his films this year for research, including AUTO FOCUS (which gets discussed in our Paul Schrader episode), THE MATADOR (as background for our Pierce Brosnan Bond ep), & this one & found that when he moved away from the bland lead roles he'd been given to show us the pathos & panic behind that smile, it was awesome. This is an Oscar-winning feel-good ensemble family dramedy with dynamic turns by Adam Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, Paul Dano, & Abigail Breslin that I saw multiple times in the theater & still adore, but there's a lot of stellar stuff here with Kinnear's reactions - particularly near the ending - that help set up others, which I love.
ONDINE (2009) - Multiple Platforms: Last night, I settled in with Neil Jordan's darkly romantic fairytale starring Colin Farrell in Irish-Irish mode, which I quickly realized that I saw, liked, & reviewed back in 2010. Exquisitely shot by Wong Kar Wai's DP Christopher Doyle with emphasis on the blues & greens of the sea, it casts a magical John Sayles' SECRET OF ROAN INISH-like spell, & would also pair well with German filmmaker Christian Petzold's version of this same story in UNDINE.
THE OUTFIT (2022) - Prime: I have no idea why this film was overlooked but it's just the sort of thing that fans of early Guy Ritchie would love... minus the hyper-kinetic aesthetic that makes Ritchie movies both dazzling & at times, annoyingly hard to watch. Graham Moore directs the excellent Mark Rylance in this story of a Saville Row tailor who must outsmart the English mob over the course of one unpredictable night.
PACIFIC HEIGHTS (1990) - Shout Factory TV &/or For Rent: Yesterday was John Schlesinger's birthday & in looking over his knockout filmography, I found myself thinking about this underrated, sharp, sardonic, nasty little thriller from an era when we still made glossy, sexy, scary movies for grown-ups. In it, yuppies Melanie Griffith & Matthew Modine learn the hard way that you should never rent an apartment to Michael Keaton (who, in the middle of his BATMAN renaissance, does a hell of a great job going bad here & visibly has a ball).
TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY (2006) - Peacock: Yes, it's me, the one woman you know who loves Truffaut movies & serious literature... but who also thinks that this is one of the funniest movies of the early aughts. ANCHORMAN gets most of the love & it's wonderful (although it's best to forget the abysmal sequel), but for whatever reason - & I mostly think it's John C. Reilly - this is a wondrously stupid satire of jingoism, machismo, & Americana that just works no matter how much I watch it. And while the men are all great, Jane Lynch, Leslie Bibb, Molly Shannon, & Amy f**king Adams all steal major focus as well. Look, it's been a stressful month for me so far, but I had the most fun revisiting this one & wanted to share the love.