2017 Movie #83: The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

2017 Movie #83: The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

All too often, biopics can feel incredibly weighty, and earning the often deserved title of “Oscar-bait”. This term may sound cynical, but it’s also certainly true that these films are often created with the sole intention of awards contention.

The great Czech director Miloš Forman, in The People vs. Larry Flynt (and later in 1999’s Man on the Moon, a film which I have great affection for), bucks these biopic trends, creating complicated portrayals of historical figures, films that defy the usual genre convention in favor of a real feel for the sense and style of the era, and the personality of the figures depicted.

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2017 Movie #55: Jerry Maguire (1996)

2017 Movie #55: Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry Maguire is a great example of how irrelevant genre can be sometimes. Is Jerry Maguire a Tom Cruise vehicle? Is it a romance film? Is it a sports film? Who cares. It’s great, is what it is.

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2017 Movie #15: The Late Shift (1996)

2017 Movie #15: The Late Shift (1996)

1996’s The Late Shift is a fun little TV movie about the transition in the late-night TV world from Johnny Carson to Jay Leno over Dave Letterman. It’s not the flashiest movie, the production quality is pretty noticably cheap (especially by modern TV movie standards), but ultimately it’s an interesting story and the actors play effective caricatures of some of the most iconic TV personalities for a generation.

It’s especially interesting watching this film in light of the 2009-2010 failed transition between Leno and Conan O’Brien – I’d imagine there might be some interest in new film covering the more modern iteration of the late night battles for the legendary Tonight Show.

2017 Movie #9: Bottle Rocket (1996)

2017 Movie #9: Bottle Rocket (1996)

A young man named Anthony (Luke Wilson) is “rescued” from a voluntary psychiatric ward by his friend Dignan (Owen Wilson), and the two decide that they are going to become small-time criminals. They decidedly prove to be amateurs; Bottle Rocket, however, proves that even from his debut feature film, Wes Anderson was no amateur. In the past, I’ve found Wes Anderson films to be a bit twee (twee: excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental) for my taste, but Bottle Rocket feels like an appropriate combination of Anderson’s unique style and more conventional filmmaking; while I wouldn’t want a world where Wes Anderson didn’t have the freedom to express his own stylings, I do wonder what kind of films he could make if he adopted more of a conventional style.

Nonetheless, Bottle Rocket is an impressive debut film, a clear indication of Wes Anderson’s future potential, and an excellent use of the deadpan stylings of the Wilson brothers. While the Wilson brothers (and Owen Wilson, in particular), have strayed over the course of their careers to very broad comedies, I love their energy in this kind of indie setting.