Welcome to Take Five, your weekly list of five random movie recommendations. Most people don't have time to watch five movies in a week. Most people don't even have five minutes to take a break and relax. Take Five is here to quicken your search for reliable entertainment (or at least movies that I deem entertaining) so you can enjoy what little free time you have. And really, who reading this article doesn't want to spend their free time watching movies? It's not like you're on sports Web site.
By George Rose
October 21, 2009
If you're really looking for something fun to do with your free time, you might want to make your way to New Jersey this week. That's right, the place known as the Garbage State... I mean the Garden State. Yeah, I know, it's quite possibly the dirtiest state in America, but for the next few days it will be known as something completely different, something that might revitalize its tourist intake and finally attract those that have feared the pollution it is so well known for. This week is... my birthday! From 12:00 a.m. on October 21st (my actual birthday) to late Sunday night, New Jersey will be transformed – Michael Bay style – and will become the latest stomping grounds to feel the wrath of my college-trained, Greek blooded liver. Don't worry, though. This doesn't mean I won't make time to go to the movies. After all, Halloween is my favorite holiday and people keep raving about Paranormal Activity. Who is ready to come to NJ for a week of movies and drinking? Nobody? I guess I'm the only jobless one in America with a bunch of free time. Well if you decide not to come celebrate with me in NJ, here are a few movies you can watch instead.
Remember the Titans (2000)
I was reminded of this movie when it came on TV earlier this week. Normally I'm not a big fan of sports or sports movies but Remember the Titans is one of the few that sticks out as enjoyable for me. It was one of the movies that really solidified Denzel Washington as a bankable lead actor, which worked out well for us (the audience) because he is amazing. More importantly, this movie introduced me to someone else, someone whose career has been a roller-coaster ride ever since: Hayden Panettiere. I probably shouldn't have followed her career so closely, since nothing after Titans (besides TVs Heroes) has registered with the mainstream. Joe Somebody? Raising Helen? Bring it On: All or Nothing? At least Denzel leveraged his role in Titans to better effect.
He stars as Herman Boone, an African American (in case you didn't know that's what Denzel is) high school football coach during the 1970s integration era. As the new head coach, it is up to him to bring together his interracial team and the still segregated mindsets of their friends and families. Obviously this task isn't easy or there wouldn't be a movie. It's also pretty obvious that the football team goes on to win all sorts of victories, both on the field and in their town. What better way to bring two distant groups of people together than a sporting event victory? This is a formula Disney knows well but it's rarely as entertaining in their other films as it is in Remember the Titans. Maybe it's because Denzel is the best of their coaches. Maybe it's the added layers of racial tension and acceptance. Or maybe it's because Hayden hasn't been as darn cute as she is here. Regardless, this movie is (super lame joke in 3... 2... 1...) one titan worth remembering!
The Man Without a Face (1993)
In 2000, when Remember the Titans came out, Denzel Washing was an up and coming lead actor. The height to which he aimed for was akin to that of Mel Gibson in the 1990s, one of Hollywood's most reliable and bankable actors. Today, Denzel is a superstar. Today, Mel is an alcoholic anti-Semite whose career is relegated to foreign language films about Jesus and ancient civilizations. Things were looking sky high for Mel after his directorial debut, The Man Without a Face. His next five starring roles were Maverick (awesome), Braveheart (Oscar winner), Ransom (another great movie), Conspiracy Theory (he's made much worse) and Lethal Weapon 4 (the first Lethal Weapon I saw, because I was still young back then). Mel was red hot! Now, he's a prejudiced drunk. You'd think would have learned more from his role in Man Without a Face.
Mel stars as... you guessed it... a man without a face. Well, sort of. He's a former teacher with half a face. The other half was burned away in a horrible car accident that left him disfigured and one of his students dead. As is to be expected, he becomes an angry, miserable shut-in and is feared by those around him. That is until the day he is befriended by Chuck, played by the very young and talented Nick Stahl. Together they form a close friendship and set off unfair suspicion that their relationship is more than just for the sake of education. Needless to say, this movie is not a comedy. It's a heavy and heartfelt drama that showcases the early directorial talent of the man that would go on to win Best Director for Braveheart. It's the type of film and career move that helped launch Mel into the stratosphere, and is a move he'll need to make again soon in order to reclaim his place on the A-list. Seriously though, Mel is a great actor. The Jew-hater played a man fighting prejudice and was darned believable in his role. If that isn't worthy of an Oscar than I don't know what is.
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Halloween is quickly approaching and I am in need of costume ideas. I want to be a vampire again, like I was last year in honor of the amazing first season of True Blood. Now that Twilight has made vampires all the rage, I have to think of something different. Since I am a gay man, friends of mine find it hilarious to suggest that I dress up as a woman. It doesn't matter how many girls I make out with, that I'm doing my best to get into baseball, that I dress more like a homeless personal trainer than a trendy model, or that most people actually have no idea I'm gay until I tell them; if you dress up as Daisy Duke for even one Halloween, it will follow you for life! In my defense, it was my ex boyfriend's idea. In my friends' defense, I look damn good in a mini skirt and blonde wig. Take my advice: don't cross dress for the sake of your partner. It's only something you should do if you want. Otherwise, it will haunt you.
Well, that's not entirely true. I guess there are other times cross dressing is necessary. In Some Like it Hot, two musicians (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) must join an all-female band after they witness a mob hit. Naturally, the only way to go into hiding in an all-female band is to cross dress. Hilarity and love ensue. You'd think the situation would be too distracting for a man to find time for love, while dressed as a woman, but when one of those women is Marilyn Monroe (!!!) I guess it starts to make sense. The movie earned six Oscar nominations and was one of the first Marilyn movies I had ever seen. You don't need to be a straight man to appreciate the beauty and sex appeal of Ms. Monroe. Though she wasn't nominated for any awards, she still lights up the screen with her voice and humor, both of which the movie has plenty of. Hmmm, maybe that's the costume idea I've been looking for. Heck, I already have the blonde wig. Anyone have a white dress I can borrow?
I'm pretty sure those that have Marilyn's infamous white dress are wearing it themselves. It's not like it's a dress you'd wear to the mall. While it would be totally Mel Gibson of me to be someone who dislikes the notion of people being prejudiced towards my ONE Halloween of cross dressing, only to later make fun of those that decide to do it, I'm 99.9% sure I'm not dressing as a woman this year. But for those of you that decide to do it, here is one idea that might be more manageable and financially responsible: dress as a female soccer player. It's basically the same thing as dressing as a male soccer player, which you probably already have the outfit for. All you need to do is throw on a wig and POOF, you're transformed. If you need a visual aid or would like to know what hilarious drama you can find yourself in as a result, check out Ladybugs.
The late and great Rodney Dangerfield stars as a corporate buffoon trying to work his way up the company ladder. In order to impress his boss, he decides to volunteer for the coaching position of the company's all girl soccer team. Since he fears he won't get a promotion if the team doesn't do well, he enlists the help of his fiancée's son. This is a terrible idea from the start and only gets worse when the young man finds himself falling for his uncle's boss's daughter. While this cross dressing feature is far less worthy of any Oscar nominations, it is still just as funny. Well, it's just as funny if you're someone who can tolerate Dangerfield's wacky style of humor or the notion of cross dressing itself. Either of these two movies should be able to help you see the lighter side of drag and, if you allow yourself to find it funny, will have you laughing your fake boobs and wig off.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Okay, enough with the cross dressing humor. It's Halloween, not Gay Pride in New York. You don't want to laugh, you want to scream and run in terror! If you're looking for a good torture porn movie to watch (no, I don't mean the upcoming Saw VI), rent The Hills Have Eyes. In the summer of my third year of college, my friend had moved into a new apartment and I helped move him in. Afterwards, we were playing video games on his new flat screen TV and decided to watch a movie. Having missed it in theaters, we decided to rent The Hills Have Eyes. About halfway through the movie, a neighbor knocked on the front door. He was concerned because he heard the helpless screaming of a young girl coming from our apartment and wanted to make sure nobody was being abducted or hurt. My friend turned and looked at me, shook his head, and apologized to the neighbor. Still don't get it? I was that little girl.
Seriously, The Hills Have Eyes is one terrifying movie, which should come as no surprise since it's a remake of a Wes Craven film. The movie is about a normal suburban family that finds themselves lost in the middle of nowhere. Finding their way back to civilization and calling for help is no longer an option after they begin to be terrorized by a group of inbred desert dwellers. This plot has been done and redone a million times but I can't remember any of those films being as scary as this one. Wrong Turn? Nope, not even close. I can't recall the exact scene that caused such a reaction, but never before has a neighbor of mine come knocking on my door to make sure the screams they heard aren't from a tortured young girl. My friend still makes fun of me to this day for my sad display of masculinity. But c'mon, have you seen the movie? Body parts are ripped from limbs, a woman is raped by a birth defected freak, people start dropping like flies and blood runs rampant; The Hills Have Eyes is not for the faint of heart and is among the smarter selections of films to rent this haunted holiday season.