Bob's Movie Madness

Bob's Movie Madness

Bob has been a movie-lover and film maven ever since he was a kid. If you're thinking about which movies to rent, buy or put on your Netflix list, here are some recommendations and capsule commentaries. Lots of these films are more than a little weird, politically dissident, sexually explicit or strangely structured. Be warned: here lies movie madness.


The Icicle Thief (Italian comedy with very clever postmodern touches)


Tanner 88 (three parts)  (Robert Altman directed and Gary Trudeau wrote this parody of a U.S. presidential campaign; the fake candidate actually campaigns in New Hampshire, rubbing elbows with Bob Dole and the rest)


Being John Malkovich (a very cool, funny mind-bender, with Catherine Keener)


Trainspotting (my favorite Scottish junkie movie)


No Man’s Land (Euro-Bosnian black comedy in which two soldiers — one Serb, one Bosnian — are caught together between lines of warring forces. Sure, war is hell, but U.N.  peacekeepers run their own bureaucratic limbo. Won Oscar.) 


Liquid Sky (a Russian emigre’s take on downtown NY culture in the 1980s, in which the Empire State Building  morphs into a junkie’s needle)


Say Anything (sweet romantic comedy; probably John Cusack’s first starring role; OK for teens)


Unforgiven (Who would’ve thought that Clint Eastwood would direct an anti-sexist, anti-violence anti-western?)


Last Night (What if this were the last night before the planet, including you, perished?  Canadian)


The Real Blonde (hip comedy by Tom DiCillo about young artistic New Yorkers trying not to sell out; with Catherine Keener)


My Life is in Turnaround (two clueless slackers trying to make a movie; fun sendup of the indie movie world)


Ma Vie en Rose (gender-bending story of a Belgian boygirl; sweet with an edge)


Run Lola Run (cool, fast-paced, frenetic German film plays out three times, each ending different)


Clerks (excellent slacker comedy about clerks in a mall video store, kind of gross)


Choose Me (magical realist romance by Alan Rudolph)


Groundhog Day (incredibly smart for a Hollywood movie; a Buddhist comedy)


Four Weddings and a Funeral (a sweet, slightly offbeat English comedy)


This is Spinal Tap (brilliant sendup of heavy metal by Rob Reiner and Christopher Guest. You can even understand the songs’ lyrics)


Metropolitan (a touching movie by Whit Stillman about young rich people, engaging if you don’t mind the stinking rich)


The Crying Game (very cool mix of the IRA war and gender-bending love story)


Blackboards (Iranian) (teachers roam the Iranian countryside, looking for anyone who wants to learn. Great images)


Road Warrior (grand post-apocalyptic adventure story, admittedly starring a young Mel Gibson)


The Barbarian Invasions (Quebecois: an aging radical roué looks at death with a lot of help from his friends)


McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman’s great nonheroic neo-Western, with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie)


Gosford Park (Altman’s twisted take on the traditional English country home murder mystery)


Walk on Water (Fine tale from Israel about Nazis, Israelis and settling up old debts)


Kiss of the Spider Woman (William Hurt in drag. Need I say more?)


Sixth Sense (yeah, it’s a movie with a surprise ending, so don’t tell. Clever, suspenseful)


Brazil (a bizarre and brilliant vision of the future by Terry Gilliam)


Tampopo    (tagline: “The Japanese noodle Western.” Lots of fun, plus a great introduction to Asian noodle soup-making.)


The Edukators (German; the sweetest terrorists you’d ever hope to meet)


Garden State (magical realism comes to the New Jersey suburbs)


Freaks and Geeks (very cool, funny TV series [lasted only one season] about high school life ca. 1980; 15 episodes)


A Mighty Wind (Brilliant, knowing satire of the folk music scene of the ‘60s by Christopher Guest. If you were a folkie, this is must-see)


America [Italian 1992, there are lots of movies by this same name, this one was directed by Fabrizio Rubbiello] (a smart, funny, ironic movie about Europe right after the end of the Cold War, and the [seemingly] great divide between the prosperous West [Italy] and the backward East [Albania])


Performance (A visit to the dark side of the late 1960s, starring our old friend Mick Jagger as an androgynously appealing, reclusive rock star in a menage a trois invaded by a gangster on the run. Dark, sexy, druggy.)


Once (Modern, multi-national love story, in which an Irish street musician [Glenn Hansard] and a visiting Czech pianist [Marketa Irglova] meet on the streets of Dublin and make beautiful music together.)