A recent conversation with a girlfriend revealed that life can get kinda messed up. Too many feels, not enough sleep, not enough belly-laughter. To that end, I’ve brought out some classics – and a couple recent films – you might have missed: ten movies to get your mind right. I promise, you’ll feel better after. I’ve even included a brief, spoiler-free synopsis and a link which should take you to all the streaming options available.
Make up some popcorn, put your feet up and chill on a Friday night!
Office Space (1999): a winsome bro-comedy
Hard to believe anyone under the age of fifty hasn’t seen this one. But in case you haven’t? It’s a classic. I recommend it to anyone in the world of work who is weary AF of the egos, insecurities, ridiculous policies, and grueling hours of the work week – and who’s ready to take it all a little less seriously.
Flight (2012): a drama about an alcoholic
I went into this one with my arms folded, totally skeptical, ready to be turned off. I am a sober alcoholic and I am exacting about how films portray this stuff, especially since treatments either veer into uber-slick (Trainspotting, I’m looking at you!) or soppily sentimental (Crazy Heart, I’m looking at you!). And sure, this film has some irritating elements: the Baby Boomer soundtrack, for instance (pandering much?). That said, the work is an absolutely beautiful depiction of the razor’s edge the just-about-to-be-sober drunk walks. Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly deliver delicious performances – beyond acting and into merely inhabiting their roles. Washington – whom I often think of as being cast in feel-good blockbusters – really shows off his chops and the camera isn’t always kind. And the “God help me” prayer in the third act had me absolutely shattered.
The Other Guys (2010): a surreal, crude cop spoof
Um, so I love, love, love entirely surreal, off-color/weird comedies – as my recent gleeful submersion into everything “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” attests. This film was looked-over in theaters – I think it was actually a little too clever for general audiences – but is one of my most dear laugh-out-loud crude hilarity-fests. Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, The Rock, Tony Coogan, and Samuel Jackson. WHY ARE YOU NOT WATCHING THIS RIGHT NOW? (P.S.: Not for kids!)
Fish Tank (2009): an intense, working-class drama
OK so – of all the films on this list, this is the most risky as it’s not an easy pill to swallow. It would be hard to watch this movie – especially if you’re a woman – without a tightening throat and a rising pulse. The film depicts, dispassionately and with a stark beauty, the treacherous terrain for fifteen-year old Mia – played to stunning effect by then-18 year old Katie Jarvis in her first role. It’s the kind of film you want to share with your daughter but you also kinda don’t want to share it. Top-notch drama and it deserves a lot more acclaim and notice.
His Girl Friday (1940): clever-like-a-play, 40s drama/comedy
My favorite comedic Cary Grant film, the fast-talking, super-clever, arch and superficial dialouge is not for everyone. But it’s an exciting, warm-hearted little romantic drama and Rosalind Russell absolutely kills it.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015): apocalyptic artsy-action/adventure
Tom Hardy’s star is on the rise and no wonder. I adore this film because it is intense, over-the-top, dramatic, beautiful, and somehow very emotive. The project seems to have been lovingly and passionately crafted every step of the way, and it shows. A rather intense experience, plan for some cool-down, calming activity before expecting to feel bed down for the night.
The Mummy (1999): a lightweight Universal “horror”/adventure comedy
1999’s first in a series that later numbered three films, this is the best of the lot far and away. It strikes the perfect notes: good-looking stars, a fun score, lavish locations, some buffoonery, good adventure and adequate (for its time) special effects – and yes, some genuine spooky moments. I wish we had more horror/adventures like it these days.
The Fighter (2010): inspirational sports drama/bro tearjerker
My secret Kryptonite is the inspirational “Cinderella story” sports bro-drama! (except, ironically, Cinderella Man, which felt sluggish and self-indulgent). The Fighter is a bonafide “chick flick” – it just happens to be a bunch of guys in it. Punching each other. Christian Bale is, as always, incredible. It’s kinda like he’s showing off. But we can look past that and enjoy the ride.
Mamma Mia (2008): ABBA musical
I’m not that much of an Abba fan, nor that much of a musical fan. However, the sheer goodheartedness and energy of this production make it a great family viewing.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991): a bleak horror drama
OK… I’m not going to make any friends with this one, but most of the Hannibal Lecter fare out there – including the beloved television show recently cancelled – is rubbishy: gore-porn, atmosphere, and a lot of silliness. Exceptions are Manhunter (a great film if a little dated) and The Silence of the Lambs. And let’s face it, the latter frankly put the whole franchise on the map. This film is somehow in my very bones – I saw it in the theater at age twelve – and I adore everything about it.