When I was an undergraduate, a group of us would gather, pooling our money and going down to the State Store--residents of the Keystone State will understand--to buy various refreshing beverages, which we would drink until they were all gone. That was about it, and that was the Friday Club.
Thirty years later, and I am afraid I'm not as thirsty as I used to be. So here's a new Friday Club: Every Friday, I will determine a lineup of seven movies. You must watch them in order, one a day, after dark. Screen incoming calls--or ignore them altogether. You should also be seated, and shoeless; you may wear socks or some sort of comfy footie--or best of all, do like the professionals and go barefoot--and of course, feel free to Bring Your Own. You probably need Netflix--and a decent rental plan; at least four-at-a-time--as well as an iron commitment to watch each movie. As I have insisted for a long time, Home Living and Entertainment is hard work.
Here's the list. The intent is to begin the viewing week on Monday--if you start on Friday, you might be tempted to watch more than one a day over the weekend, and we simply cannot have any of that. So this is a "Friday Club" only in the sense that I'm bossing you around on Friday so that you'll hop to your Queue to get the movies in your hands beginning Monday evening. These are movies on my own Queue, so they are films/DVDs I either haven't seen or haven't seen in a while. So I'm as excited as you are.* You are excited, aren't you?
Monday: Giants and Toys (1958)
Corporate marketing wars, Japanese-style. Lately I have been watching mostly Japanese movies; I may take a break after this one--although Sword of Doom (1966) calls menacingly. Still, this buttoned-down version of Pacific Rim ruthlessness might tide me over.
Tuesday: Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Once again, a movie I know little about, thank goodness. I saw the trailer, and like keeping an eye on Will Ferrell. He always seems ready to do something unpleasant; this makes his comedy especially uneasy. Besides, he reminds me of a guy I knew in graduate school, funny and unpredictable, with often-unreadable eyes. Nothing like an unintentional echo of one's past to keep a movie interesting.
Wednesday: High School Terrors
Another compilation of "instructional films"; it seems some of these were intended for G.I.s. This kind of thing is easy to laugh at, like Ed Wood--and Mystery Science Theater does a world-class job of doing just that; the cinematic equivalent of James Lileks' site--all children of the National Lampoon magazine of the '70s. But once I get beyond mockery and camp-foolery, I find these distressed goods alternately resonant and depressing, in a second-hand way.
Thursday: Tideland (2005)
I think I remember reading--in Film Comment?--that this Terry Gilliam film, released just around the time of his pass at the Brothers Grimm, is the better of two dicey movies. And it's supposed to be dark, dark, dark. But it's a good idea to give Gilliam the benefit of the doubt; after all, too few "mainstream" filmmakers regularly work at Circe's loom, if I may wax Classical. I think every once in a while a movie should turn the viewers into swine, just as a reminder.
Friday: Forbidden Games (1954)
Rene Clement's pet cemetery movie, one that I must admit I will visit dutifully--it's one of those canonical movies, so it's supposed to be good for you--but I am optimistic it will live up to its reputation. I'm interested in the film's depiction of children. Everyone complains that movies don't do justice to their hometowns or occupations; me, I'm always embarrassed and angered by the damage done to childhood. Here's hoping.
Saturday Borat (2006)
My wife has requested we watch every movie nominated this year for an Academy Award. Given the fact that this includes Click (Best Achievement in Makeup), this may be a case of careful what you wish for. I am eager, though, to see Borat. As my smart friend Gene pointed out decades ago--watching SCTV's surreal parodies of the Soviet Union, particularly its take on anti-Uzbeck sentiments--the odder corners (if I may appear insensitive) of Eastern Europe remain the only "minorities" one is allowed to mock. As usual, Gene was decades ahead of his time. So I'm looking forward to seeing "what fits into Mother Russia," post-Millennium style.
Sunday Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
I've been meaning to watch this Jim Jarmusch exercise in Total Indy Laid-Back-ness; it seems a perfect Sunday evening Quiet Time, even if some of the filmed conversations might grow strident--what will Iggy Pop and Tom Waits get up to? But one can only hope that, plotless and semi-improvised (I think), it will ease us back toward the work week with a minimum of fuss.
I will admit, though, that this is primarily your week in movies. Me, I might read a book. This does not, of course, relieve you of your viewing responsibilities.
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