Bill & Ted, The Jerk and More: My Films of the Week #8

As a lifelong cinephile, I have always consumed a copious amount of films. In this new feature, I keep track of the films I watch during the week. (Also, Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!)

 

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Stephen Herek – 1989 – USA

Cult time-traveling adventure comedy about two high-school dimwits traveling through time to complete their history class. It’s like stepping into the fantasies of a child. Yet, by embracing its stupidity wholeheartedly and without pretension, and thanks to some “excellent” special effects, the film is undeniably a ton of fun.

 

The Jerk
Carl Reiner – 1979 – USA

Steve Martin’s cinematic debut vehicle. It may even be his best ever. The absurdist tale of a man, naive and even a little slow, going through life and the world in Forrest Gump-like fashion. It is possible to see this as a cutting satire on the concept of the American Dream. Also, it’s incredibly funny.

Pennies from Heaven
Herbert Ross – 1981 – USA

A poetic reflection on the meaning of escapism. Set in Great Depression Chicago, this is a musical drama of interlinked lives, exploring such themes as human nature, sexual fantasies, and repression. Embellished by a beautiful style that revisits the entertainment of its setting, Pennies from Heaven was misunderstood at the time of its release and continues to be undervalued today.

 

When I’m Done Dying
Nisan Dağ – 2020 – Turkey/USA/Germany

A story of star-crossed lovers set in the contemporary hip-hop culture of Istanbul slums. A hip and cool film, using traditional tropes to reflect on themes of addiction, family and the significance of hip-hop (or art in general) in a troubled side of the world. Enriching, while universally resonant and accessible.

 

After Hours
Martin Scorsese – 1985 – USA

Martin Scorsese’s dark comedy with Kafkaesque undertoned has long been considered one of his most underrated movies. It is easy to spot Francois Truffaut’s influences in there, particularly via its lead character, who recalls the French New Wave’s trailblazer’s fictional alter-ego Antoine Doinel. Even easier to perceive this movie as an office worker’s trip to New York City’s underbelly, populated by all kinds of eccentric characters, in an Alice in Wonderland-type adventure.

 

Mickey on the Road
Mian Mian Lu – 2020 – Taiwan

Two young Taiwanese women set off to China, one to look for her boyfriend, the other to look for her estranged father. A subtle exploration of gender themes and cultural barriers, driven by a sense of courage and hopefulness for the future. A noteworthy debut from Mian Mian Lu.

 

The Evening Hour
Braden King – 2020 – USA

Part of a new trend of movies exploring fading rural villages in the United States, particularly set in Appalachia, associated with hillbillies. The Evening Hour is a well-balanced adaptation of a novel by Carter Sickels, defined by sophisticated characterization and timeless concerns based around a sense of duty towards land.

 

Memory House
João Paulo Miranda Maria – 2020 – Brazil/France

The chronicles of a native from the Brazilian hinterland’s clash with the colonialist mentality of the inhabitants of a former Austrian colony, where he works. Subtle surrealism is used effectively to explore the impact of colonialism. Memory House also seems like an apt film to come out of Brazil in the controversial Bolsonary era.

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

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