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The Bottom Shelf #19

06.23.2005

Another two strange and diverse films on this week’s Bottom Shelf. Grab a cold one and enjoy…

THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999)
Directed by David Lynch
Starring Richard Farnsworth & Sissy Spacek

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

Moving away from black and white depictions of fetus babies, massive sandstorms and oxygen tank abusing madmen, cultivator of all things bizarre David Lynch brings us this sincere and charming film. The fact that a Walt Disney logo preludes the movie is certain to put some of you at ease, as a G-rated feature from Lynch is almost as weird conceptually as any of his other films. Yet the most pleasant surprise of THE STRAIGHT STORY isn’t really that it’s a family friendly flick, but that it’s a legitimate Lynch movie, full of strange and creepy images, quirky characters, and that slightly-off sense of pace and timing that transports us to the Twilight-Zone type of cinema we all know and love.

The script at hand focuses on Alvin Straight (Farnsworth), a 70 year old ailing widower living in Iowa with his slightly retarded daughter (Spacek). Alvin soon learns his brother whom he hasn’t spoken to in years is now very sick, and armed with nothing but a lawn mower, sets out on a truly unique road trip of sorts. What’s really remarkable about THE STRAIGHT STORY is how David Lynch created the art-house hit so many fans knew he had in him, within the confines of a Disney film. This film is a must see, its Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD infused with all sorts of Lynch-esque overtones for a contemporary audience. Unofficially…watch this if you are in any sort of inebriated state (wink).

Favorite Scene:

Some don’t like her, but I’m a sucker for the deer-lady scene. Very weird indeed.

Favorite Quote:

“I'd give each one of 'em a stick and, one for each one of 'em, then I'd say, 'You break that.' Course they could real easy. Then I'd say, 'Tie them sticks in a bundle and try to break that.' Course they couldn't. Then I'd say, "That bundle... that's family."

Trivia Tidbit:

The film is based on a true story. In addition, it was Richard Farnsworth’s last movie before he passed away.

See If You Liked:

ATLANTIC CITY , JUNIOR BONNER, HARRY AND TONTO

GUMMO (1997)
Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring Jacob Reynolds & Nick Sutton

-- click here to buy this DVD at Amazon.com --
-- click here to rent this movie at NetFlix.com --

GUMMO is NOT a film for everyone. In fact, I’m willing to bet that should you rent it, most of you will turn it off before the end credits roll. Some may call this a terrible movie or what not, I call it effective film making. Director/auteur Korine (who wrote equally unsettling KIDS and KEN PARK) brings us the story of “a town that never fully recovered from a giant tornado”. In reality, it’s a loosely woven series of surreal visual poems. We follow a group of kids as they engage in the weirdest stuff someone could possibly imagine, including strange treatment of animals and sex with handicapped people. You know those jokes people often make about middle-America? Yeah...

On a serious note though, the images and actions portrayed in GUMMO really aren’t a joke. Take from this movie what you may (that’s pretty much the point of art), but I came away thinking about what a sad reflection on the dark corners of a child’s mind this really was. The humor is edgy and the movie is loaded with outré cinematography, so it should appeal to the pseudo-intellectual demographic it was apparently made for, but other then that some people apparently really hate this film. Personally I hated a number of the characters themselves, but took the film as a whole and realized how it had gotten under my skin, something few films can accomplish. See GUMMO in a well lit room on a nice day, because it kicks the whole creepy filmmaking gig into overdrive for 90 minutes. Regardless of what you end up thinking of the film (I’ve met people who actually raved about it), it is bound to make an impact which is something you don’t get a whole lot of these days.

Favorite Scene:

Chloe Sevigny solidifies herself as one of my favorite young actresses in this, as she steals pretty much every scene she appears in.

Favorite Quote:

I knew a guy who was dyslexic. He was also cross-eyed. So everything came out right.”

Trivia Tidbit:

Instead of using regular studio issued production lights, the crew opted for fluorescent lighting to give the film it’s washed up, creepy feel.

See If You Liked:

GEORGE WASHINGTON, RIVER’S EDGE, SPUN

That wraps it up for this week, two really unique films. I’m curious to know what you guys think of GUMMO in particular, as it seems to evoke all sorts of reactions. Regarding one e-mail in particular, I wanted to make mention of a particular squirrel. You know who you are.

PREVIOUSLY:

Like Water for Chocolate / Slam
Falling Down / The Last Horror Movie
Spanish Prisoner / Near Dark
Bottle Rocket / The Long Goodbye
Swimming Pool / Session 9
Jules and Jim / Bully
The Apple / Troll 2
The Sweet Hereafter / Exotica
Happiness / In the Mood for Love
Blue Velvet / Living in Oblivion
They Live / Phantom of the Paradise
Summer School / Sleepaway Camp
George Washington / Tape
Say Anything / Battle Royale
Black Sunday / 29th Street
Blood Simple / Raising Arizona
Freaks / Hard Eight
Harold and Maude / Coffy

Source: JoBlo.com

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