THE HUSTLER (1961)
In this noir melodrama, the tortured and self-destructive pool hustler Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) plays for money and glory, out to prove he’s the world’s greatest pool player by beating the reigning pool champion Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). But, as high-stakes gambler Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) puts it, the most talented pool player can still be a “born loser”. Eddie Felson’s loneliness is eased by Sarah (Piper Laurie), an emotionally unstable drunk.  What happens in a love affair between born losers? Everybody loses.
It’s hard to figure out where to start in talking about how great this movie is. I mean, even this movie’s noir jazz musical score is the coolest. I’m pretty obsessed with the script by writer/director Robert Rossen. All these characters could easily have been written as flat stereotypes, but this script has a rare humanity and an empathic love for flawed, tragic people. I’m in love with every character. And when you give character-writing like this to actors as brilliant as Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, and Jackie Gleason (and many others in this impossibly brilliant ensemble cast), everybody milks their parts like crazy. This story also kills me because I relate to it so much. I have no personal interest in competitiveness, pool, or gambling and could not be more bored by the idea of a bunch of men trying to beat each other at some foolish game. But this story about pool hustling, to me, is more about the self-destructive tendencies of artistic people. I relate a lot to Eddie Felson. Though I’m often able to find rare happiness there’s a special self-torture and self-destruction reserved for artistic people. This sort of pursuit of money and glory inevitably breaks one’s heart in a million ways, no matter the talent or the results. And you don’t just break your own heart; you break the hearts of the people you’re with too. That said, I find this devastating story so romantic and glamorous. It’s incredible that they’d cast Piper Laurie as Paul Newman’s love interest when she isn’t particularly pretty— but Sarah is one of the sexiest characters ever, the only kind of woman who can break a closed heart like Eddie’s. Did I mention this movie is insanely hot? Paul Newman’s unparalleled hotness is a given, but since when is George C. Scott so sexy?

THE HUSTLER (1961)

In this noir melodrama, the tortured and self-destructive pool hustler Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) plays for money and glory, out to prove he’s the world’s greatest pool player by beating the reigning pool champion Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). But, as high-stakes gambler Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) puts it, the most talented pool player can still be a “born loser”. Eddie Felson’s loneliness is eased by Sarah (Piper Laurie), an emotionally unstable drunk.  What happens in a love affair between born losers? Everybody loses.

It’s hard to figure out where to start in talking about how great this movie is. I mean, even this movie’s noir jazz musical score is the coolest. I’m pretty obsessed with the script by writer/director Robert Rossen. All these characters could easily have been written as flat stereotypes, but this script has a rare humanity and an empathic love for flawed, tragic people. I’m in love with every character. And when you give character-writing like this to actors as brilliant as Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, and Jackie Gleason (and many others in this impossibly brilliant ensemble cast), everybody milks their parts like crazy. This story also kills me because I relate to it so much. I have no personal interest in competitiveness, pool, or gambling and could not be more bored by the idea of a bunch of men trying to beat each other at some foolish game. But this story about pool hustling, to me, is more about the self-destructive tendencies of artistic people. I relate a lot to Eddie Felson. Though I’m often able to find rare happiness there’s a special self-torture and self-destruction reserved for artistic people. This sort of pursuit of money and glory inevitably breaks one’s heart in a million ways, no matter the talent or the results. And you don’t just break your own heart; you break the hearts of the people you’re with too. That said, I find this devastating story so romantic and glamorous. It’s incredible that they’d cast Piper Laurie as Paul Newman’s love interest when she isn’t particularly pretty— but Sarah is one of the sexiest characters ever, the only kind of woman who can break a closed heart like Eddie’s. Did I mention this movie is insanely hot? Paul Newman’s unparalleled hotness is a given, but since when is George C. Scott so sexy?

ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1958)
In this noir melodrama, a woman and her lover plan to murder her husband and run away together. The plan is brilliant, but interrupted by chaos in the form of a problem with the elevator.
This movie is really romantic in a way I love; it’s about the romance of a chaos vs. the romance of fate. Is it more romantic to believe a couple was fated to find each other or to believe they found each other in the chaos? This is a movie about a romance interrupted by chaos/fate. Jeanne Moreau is as beautiful as it gets in this, and her character moves me a lot. When her lover doesn’t show up after the murder and she has evidence that he’s run out on her, she knows there’s been a mistake. Her faith in their romance lasts through everything and she is the true hero of the story, an unusual angle for a story about murdering a husband. There are so many great things about this movie, but the one I’m most obsessed with is the Miles Davis score improvised in one take while watching the movie. It’s probably the hippest movie score ever.

ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1958)

In this noir melodrama, a woman and her lover plan to murder her husband and run away together. The plan is brilliant, but interrupted by chaos in the form of a problem with the elevator.

This movie is really romantic in a way I love; it’s about the romance of a chaos vs. the romance of fate. Is it more romantic to believe a couple was fated to find each other or to believe they found each other in the chaos? This is a movie about a romance interrupted by chaos/fate. Jeanne Moreau is as beautiful as it gets in this, and her character moves me a lot. When her lover doesn’t show up after the murder and she has evidence that he’s run out on her, she knows there’s been a mistake. Her faith in their romance lasts through everything and she is the true hero of the story, an unusual angle for a story about murdering a husband. There are so many great things about this movie, but the one I’m most obsessed with is the Miles Davis score improvised in one take while watching the movie. It’s probably the hippest movie score ever.

THE MASTER (2012)
In this melodrama, a mentally unstable drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) falls under the spell of a charlatan philosopher (Philip Seymour Hoffman). As their relationship deepens, the power shifts, and it’s hard to see which one needs the other more.
This story destroys me in a million ways. It feels to me like one of the stories that best reflects my personal tragedies. I’ve been Freddie in many relationships. Many didn’t like or relate to this movie, but it kills me. And, of course, it’s a pleasure to watch these actors freaking out together. Those guys are the best.

THE MASTER (2012)

In this melodrama, a mentally unstable drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) falls under the spell of a charlatan philosopher (Philip Seymour Hoffman). As their relationship deepens, the power shifts, and it’s hard to see which one needs the other more.

This story destroys me in a million ways. It feels to me like one of the stories that best reflects my personal tragedies. I’ve been Freddie in many relationships. Many didn’t like or relate to this movie, but it kills me. And, of course, it’s a pleasure to watch these actors freaking out together. Those guys are the best.

1 note

BOYS DON’T CRY (1999)
In this noir melodrama horror movie based on a true story, Brandon, a woman who longs to be a man but can’t afford an operation (Hilary Swank) disguises himself as a man and infiltrates a group of friends. When his genitals are discovered, things go very tragic.
This is what you get when you find a genius writer/director (Kimberly Peirce) who makes an independent movie of a story that she sees as most essential to her life. There are few movies in history that feel as human and impassioned as this one. It’s unbearably dark and tragic and points to all the worst of humanity. I can only compare it to something like Tennessee Williams. This is another one not for the faint of heart.

BOYS DON’T CRY (1999)

In this noir melodrama horror movie based on a true story, Brandon, a woman who longs to be a man but can’t afford an operation (Hilary Swank) disguises himself as a man and infiltrates a group of friends. When his genitals are discovered, things go very tragic.

This is what you get when you find a genius writer/director (Kimberly Peirce) who makes an independent movie of a story that she sees as most essential to her life. There are few movies in history that feel as human and impassioned as this one. It’s unbearably dark and tragic and points to all the worst of humanity. I can only compare it to something like Tennessee Williams. This is another one not for the faint of heart.

THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (1994)
In this comedy, an idiot named Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) arrives in New York City only to be instantly made president of a huge corporation by an evil Vice President (Paul Newman). Secretly, the Vice-President thinks that by putting the dumbest possible person in charge, he can terrify investors and depress the stock so he and the other executives can buy it up themselves for cheap. Of course, his plan backfires. And a snoopy journalist (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who’s gone undercover as a secretary to expose Norville’s idiocy to the world ends up falling in love with him.
As crazy as this sounds, The Hudsucker Proxy may be the cleverest movie ever made. After the box-office success of Raising Arizona and Barton Fink winning Cannes, the Coen Brothers managed to get 60 million dollars to make a movie. So they made a magical realist period piece comedy in which characters talk almost incomprehensibly fast just to get the jokes in. In fact, usually audiences are laughing too hard to even catch them all. It’s a miracle this movie even exists. And they never got that kind of money to make a movie again (probably never will). And I should note this cast is so sexy (Tim Robbins, older Paul Newman, and Jennifer Jason Leigh all as hot as humans can possibly be). This is also one of the most positive, happy movies ever made, so it’s good to watch if you’re down.

THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (1994)

In this comedy, an idiot named Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) arrives in New York City only to be instantly made president of a huge corporation by an evil Vice President (Paul Newman). Secretly, the Vice-President thinks that by putting the dumbest possible person in charge, he can terrify investors and depress the stock so he and the other executives can buy it up themselves for cheap. Of course, his plan backfires. And a snoopy journalist (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who’s gone undercover as a secretary to expose Norville’s idiocy to the world ends up falling in love with him.

As crazy as this sounds, The Hudsucker Proxy may be the cleverest movie ever made. After the box-office success of Raising Arizona and Barton Fink winning Cannes, the Coen Brothers managed to get 60 million dollars to make a movie. So they made a magical realist period piece comedy in which characters talk almost incomprehensibly fast just to get the jokes in. In fact, usually audiences are laughing too hard to even catch them all. It’s a miracle this movie even exists. And they never got that kind of money to make a movie again (probably never will). And I should note this cast is so sexy (Tim Robbins, older Paul Newman, and Jennifer Jason Leigh all as hot as humans can possibly be). This is also one of the most positive, happy movies ever made, so it’s good to watch if you’re down.

THE TERMINATOR (1984)
In this action romance melodrama, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) finds herself the target of a mysterious assassin (Arnold Schwartzeneggar) and protected by an equally mysterious guardian (Michael Beihn). She soon learns that both men have been sent back in time from a post-apocalyptic future where her son is the savior of humanity. Attempts to kill him in the future have failed, so they’ve sent an assassin back in time to kill his mother, preventing his birth.
This is one of the sexiest and most thrilling movies, but the real best part is how romantic it is. Trust me, this is one of the better date movies around.

THE TERMINATOR (1984)

In this action romance melodrama, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) finds herself the target of a mysterious assassin (Arnold Schwartzeneggar) and protected by an equally mysterious guardian (Michael Beihn). She soon learns that both men have been sent back in time from a post-apocalyptic future where her son is the savior of humanity. Attempts to kill him in the future have failed, so they’ve sent an assassin back in time to kill his mother, preventing his birth.

This is one of the sexiest and most thrilling movies, but the real best part is how romantic it is. Trust me, this is one of the better date movies around.

NAKED (1993)
In this melodrama/noir/horror movie, a mysterious drifter vagrant named Johnny (David Thewlis) reappears in an ex-girlfriend’s life asking to stay with her. Johnny’s clever and charming and ever-ranting, fancying himself a philosopher, but it’s a cover for his bottomless rage and misery. Anyone who allows him near invites a nightmare of violence and misogyny.
This is one of the darker movies I can think of. I don’t know if there exists a more human and realistic portrayal of a sociopathic rapist and the women who love and forgive him. David Thewlis’s performance is one of the most powerful ever, partially because he’s essentially written the role himself. Mike Leigh makes his movies by writing a script from his actors’ improvisations. The ensemble cast is too powerful; these actors have faces you’ll never forget. I mean, this movie will seriously haunt you forever. Beware.

NAKED (1993)

In this melodrama/noir/horror movie, a mysterious drifter vagrant named Johnny (David Thewlis) reappears in an ex-girlfriend’s life asking to stay with her. Johnny’s clever and charming and ever-ranting, fancying himself a philosopher, but it’s a cover for his bottomless rage and misery. Anyone who allows him near invites a nightmare of violence and misogyny.

This is one of the darker movies I can think of. I don’t know if there exists a more human and realistic portrayal of a sociopathic rapist and the women who love and forgive him. David Thewlis’s performance is one of the most powerful ever, partially because he’s essentially written the role himself. Mike Leigh makes his movies by writing a script from his actors’ improvisations. The ensemble cast is too powerful; these actors have faces you’ll never forget. I mean, this movie will seriously haunt you forever. Beware.

4 notes

CARRIE (1976)
This melodrama horror movie tells the story of Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), one of literature’s saddest characters. At her high school, she is a constantly-humiliated outcast. At home, she’s abused by her mother, a mentally ill religious fanatic mother (Piper Laurie). She longs for any kind of love, but has nothing. When some of the cool kids at school decide to be nice to her, to take her to prom because it’ll be so meaningful for her, Carrie has her first moments of hope and happiness. But her mother and other kids at her high school see her hope as an opportunity to hurt and humiliate her more than ever. Too bad for them, they don’t know Carrie has a supernatural power to move things with her mind, and that she’s capable of revenge.
The first thing I love about this is that it portrays a religious upbringing as a horror nightmare. Second, I’m a sucker for stories of outcasts and ugly people who find hope and dignity, but most of those stories don’t end with sadistic revenge. The elephant man and Cyrano De Bergerac don’t machine gun everybody at the end.

CARRIE (1976)

This melodrama horror movie tells the story of Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), one of literature’s saddest characters. At her high school, she is a constantly-humiliated outcast. At home, she’s abused by her mother, a mentally ill religious fanatic mother (Piper Laurie). She longs for any kind of love, but has nothing. When some of the cool kids at school decide to be nice to her, to take her to prom because it’ll be so meaningful for her, Carrie has her first moments of hope and happiness. But her mother and other kids at her high school see her hope as an opportunity to hurt and humiliate her more than ever. Too bad for them, they don’t know Carrie has a supernatural power to move things with her mind, and that she’s capable of revenge.

The first thing I love about this is that it portrays a religious upbringing as a horror nightmare. Second, I’m a sucker for stories of outcasts and ugly people who find hope and dignity, but most of those stories don’t end with sadistic revenge. The elephant man and Cyrano De Bergerac don’t machine gun everybody at the end.

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1989)
This noir melodrama has two main intersecting plot-lines: a wealthy philanthropist (Martin Landau) must deal with blackmail from a mentally unstable mistress (Anjelica Huston). Also, an unproductive and unsuccessful film-maker (Woody Allen) competes with a multi-millionaire television producer of moronic garbage (Alan Alda) over a woman (Mia Farrow).
I relate to this movie a lot in two ways. First, I relate a lot to this vision of the world as an immoral chaos where most prioritize getting what they want over doing what they think is right. In this story, a man gets away with murder and feels fine about it, a fool maintains his arrogance and entitlement through all failures, a great woman is charmed and seduced by a sleaze, a total idiot gets everything he wants. No one thinks about what they actually deserve; they just get what they want. This rings true to me. Second, the Woody Allen character reflects back to me much of what I hate about myself. Those who think Woody Allen makes self-congratulatory movies about how great he is (a perspective I hear often), watch the great ones (this one, Manhattan, and Hannah and Her Sisters) and see if you still believe that.

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1989)

This noir melodrama has two main intersecting plot-lines: a wealthy philanthropist (Martin Landau) must deal with blackmail from a mentally unstable mistress (Anjelica Huston). Also, an unproductive and unsuccessful film-maker (Woody Allen) competes with a multi-millionaire television producer of moronic garbage (Alan Alda) over a woman (Mia Farrow).

I relate to this movie a lot in two ways. First, I relate a lot to this vision of the world as an immoral chaos where most prioritize getting what they want over doing what they think is right. In this story, a man gets away with murder and feels fine about it, a fool maintains his arrogance and entitlement through all failures, a great woman is charmed and seduced by a sleaze, a total idiot gets everything he wants. No one thinks about what they actually deserve; they just get what they want. This rings true to me. Second, the Woody Allen character reflects back to me much of what I hate about myself. Those who think Woody Allen makes self-congratulatory movies about how great he is (a perspective I hear often), watch the great ones (this one, Manhattan, and Hannah and Her Sisters) and see if you still believe that.

The Neverending Story (1984)
In this fantasy/adventure/horror for children, a child whose mother has recently died discovers a book that tells a story-within-a-story about a boy named Atreyu on a journey to save the world from a mysterious destructive force referred to as “the nothing.” But it turns out that in this story, the characters are alive and real and the reader must confront his own feelings to save them.
It was challenging writing the pitch above; this movie is pretty hard to explain. I was obsessed with it as a child, but it might be even more intense for adults because it’s about despair, grief, and depression. This is the only action/adventure movie you’ll find in which every obstacle the characters must defeat is emotional: They have to make it through a swamp that feeds off sadness and despair, so the depressed sink into it and die! Then, after making it through various death-traps, the character’s final challenge is to look in a mirror and face his true self! This movie goes places only child-logic allows and uses the freedom to astounding emotional effect. But only watch if you’re ready for a good cry; this movie is almost too moving to bear.

The Neverending Story (1984)

In this fantasy/adventure/horror for children, a child whose mother has recently died discovers a book that tells a story-within-a-story about a boy named Atreyu on a journey to save the world from a mysterious destructive force referred to as “the nothing.” But it turns out that in this story, the characters are alive and real and the reader must confront his own feelings to save them.

It was challenging writing the pitch above; this movie is pretty hard to explain. I was obsessed with it as a child, but it might be even more intense for adults because it’s about despair, grief, and depression. This is the only action/adventure movie you’ll find in which every obstacle the characters must defeat is emotional: They have to make it through a swamp that feeds off sadness and despair, so the depressed sink into it and die! Then, after making it through various death-traps, the character’s final challenge is to look in a mirror and face his true self! This movie goes places only child-logic allows and uses the freedom to astounding emotional effect. But only watch if you’re ready for a good cry; this movie is almost too moving to bear.