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  • Ethan Wolfe

Sunday Night Cinema #1


Words by: Ethan Wolfe (he/him)



Movies have been a life-long passion of mine, I love their ability to transport you, to make you  think, and to entertain. My favorite part of watching movies is pushing myself out of my  cinematic comfort zone, and discovering new films to fall in love with. In this column, I hope to  share this joy of discovery with the reader through this selection of five movies, perfect for a lazy  night at home.  



 


Bullitt (1968) - (Action, Hollywood):  

A neo-noir, action, and thriller that delivers on all of its promises. The action makes great use of  practical effects, the mystery is genuinely thrilling and makes you want to find out how it ends,  and the story and acting is surprisingly nuanced and thoughtful. In a modern action movie status quo of watching two CGI monsters fight each other with laser beams, there’s something  refreshing about an action scene that’s just a slick old-school Mustang flying down the San  Francisco hills, in pursuit of the bad guys.  


Clerks (1994) - (Comedy, American Independent):  

An intensely clever independent comedy that revolves around the lives of minimum-wage store  clerks. It shines in its ability to capture the confusion and aimlessness of that odd period of life  where you’ve become a real adult but you’re still terrible at it, and by doing so in a way that lets  us laugh at. Filled with snappy dialogue and absurd humor, Clerks helps remind all of us stuck  working low-level dead end jobs not to take them too seriously, and that they are as dumb as you  think.  


Embrace of the Serpent (2015) - (Adventure, Colombian):  

A truly epic adventure through the Amazon, centered around an Indigenous man who guides two  different European explorers through the jungle. Consciously they search for a medicinal plant,  subconsciously for self-discovery. While most adventure films focus on the hero, with the  foreign locale serving as more of a background, Embrace of the Serpent sets a different tone, the explorer almost totally at the mercy of his environment. A walk through the jungle as well as a walk through Colombia’s history, Embrace of the Serpent manages to both entertain and fascinate.  


Amélie (2001) - (Romantic Comedy, French):  

Where most movies allow you to become a spectator to another time, place, or world, Amélie  pulls you into the world of the main character, allowing you to experience the story from her  perspective, rather than just watching it. Amélie is shy, with few friends, and finds the joy in life  through simple pleasures and through her imagination; the world of the film takes on a  fantastical tinge where pictures can talk, and what’s happening in real life is often interrupted by  sequences of her frequent daydreams. Much of the charm of the film comes from the supporting  cast, studded with dreamers, neurotics, tragic lovers, bullies, and other loners. Amélie presents a simple but well told story about a girl falling in love, enhanced by a visual style that constantly  excites, which in my opinion, is almost infinitely re-watchable.  


Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) - (Black Comedy, Cult Classic):  

A mockumentary about a teen beauty pageant in rural Minnesota that joyfully bashes  commercial femininity, loud ignorance, and arbitrary competition—without allowing the tone to  become too dark or depressing. Mockumentaries gained popularity in the 80s with the release of  This Is Spinal Tap in 1984, but very few managed to strike the balance between keeping it real  enough to feel human, and absurd enough to be comedic. Drop Dead Gorgeous executes this  balance masterfully: the characters are charming and hilarious, and splashes of dark absurdity  toss them into even funnier situations. It’s the best mockumentary I’ve ever seen, and a great piece of cinema in general.

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