6 films that make me happy (and hopefully you too).
Alexander Payne has always held a soft spot in my heart. On my 13th birthday, my friends and I watched a VHS of Election and were laughing our asses off. It wasn’t until 2004 when my dad and I went to go see Payne’s film Sideways that my respect and admiration for the filmmaker shot through the roof. This screening felt like a monumental event in my life. For one, it’s a shared experience between father and son. It’s also a perfect study of depression and how it affects the everyday writer. Despite 2017’s Downsizing being a bit of a misfire, Payne will always be one of my favorite filmmakers. Did I mention I used a quote from him in my high school yearbook?
Was there a film you found yourself weirdly obsessed with when you were growing up? I must’ve watched the trailer for Good Will Hunting as a tween 50 times. Then I finally bought the DVD and it quickly cemented itself as being a classic of my childhood. Gus Van Sant has always been one of my favorite filmmakers and I can’t possibly think of anyone else who could’ve brought this story to life. Even though Mel Gibson, Michael Mann, and Kevin Smith of all people were considered in early development. Good Will Hunting is a rare gem that has something in it for everybody. Even a random cameo by Harmony Korine.
Nothing spells masculinity than three guys in their late 20s going to see a Thanksgiving screening of a coming of age movie about a teenage girl. That is in fact exactly what happened in November of 2016. I’ve been a fan of Hailee Steinfeld’s acting since her towering debut in 2010’s True Grit. She’s likable, versatile, and has the lungs of Beyonce. The Edge of Seventeen was deservedly a sleeper hit when it came out. Most critics and audiences I’m sure assumed it would be straight to VOD release but its quality demanded a theatrical run. This film is maybe the best coming of age teen story since 1995’s Angus. The perfect tonal dance of comedy, drama, and the art of growing up.
I’ve seen this film 100 times. No, that is not an exaggeration. I have literally seen this film 100 times going back to 2009 when it was finally released on DVD. I rented it from Blockbuster and had it for 3–5 days (video stores, right?). I watched it maybe 30 times during that window of time. Step Brothers is a bolt of lightning in a bottle. A brilliant pairing between Reilly and Ferrell that to this day has not been matched. Not even by the underrated Talladega Nights which came out two years prior. I’d rather not talk about Holmes & Watson. Step Brothers is easily one of the best comedies of the last 20 years and if you don’t agree, then well. We can’t be friends.
Hollywood. Satirical comedy. Albert Brooks. There’s really not much more you can ask for in a feature film. But good lord does The Muse over-deliver. Brooks is a genius that perhaps doesn’t get the same mainstream recognition as people like Larry David or Woody Allen (too soon?). However, when he’s firing on all cylinders no one can match him. Though Brooks drives the story, it’s an ensemble piece. Everyone’s terrific. Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell, Jeff Bridges. Cameos by Scorsese, James Cameron, Steven Wright. If you have any interest in the entertainment industry and want to laugh as well, check this film out ASAP. It’s the perfect date night flick.
Saving the best for last? The tag line at the top of this poster pretty much sums up the theme of this story. Small town amateurs with dreams bigger than their brains. Director Christopher Guest made a name for himself with the 80’s cult classic This is Spinal Tap. However, it wasn’t until ’96 that he truly came into his own with Waiting for Guffman. From the amazing cameos by David Cross and Paul Dooley. To Guest’s iconic performance as delusional theater director Corky St. Clair. To the ultimate third act of the live production. It’s an effortless comedy that feels like a precursor to Curb Your Enthusiasm. Early Curb. It’s also my all-time favorite comedy.