Friday, August 05, 2005

Indie Friday

Being Friday and all, many people will head out to the movies tonight to see what will likely be, I'm sorry, trash. So forget about spending $10 on the ticket per person and at least $10 on refreshments and take the Wash Post's Desson Thomson's advice and rent something with character development, something that doesn't confirm your preconceived notions, and for the love of God, something with minimal special effects.

Rent an indie movie.

What's an indie movie, you ask?
Because they are independently conceived and directed, in most cases, indie movies are known for taking advantage of good narrative and character quirks instead of computer-generated effects. And these movies are made free of meddlesome studio executives who never met a project they couldn't bury under a pile of memos, "notes" and audience research printouts.
So basically a "suit" isn't telling the director that his or her movie is too graphic, or too uncomfortable, or too heathen for the nice people who live on cul-de-sacs throughout this great U.S. of A.

Read the article, it's thoroughly enjoyable.

Thomson was also nice enough to produce a list of the "top 20 Indies with oomph." I reproduce the list below and give my own suggestions.
Pulp Fiction, 1994. What can we say? In this crime movie, Quentin Tarantino hits every high note. Without a doubt the most popular cult hit of its generation. A classic.

Memento, 2000. A movie that progresses back to front as a man (Guy Pearce) tries to recover his memory, this flashback of a story is brilliantly told.

Clerks, 1994. Kevin Smith's debut, featuring some of the rudest convenience-store workers in existence, is ribald, original and terrifically liberating.

Amores Perros, 2000. This extraordinary film from Alejandro Gonzalez IƱarritu shows the fatalistic intersection of several characters in Mexico who are all connected by a road accident. Entrancing and memorable.

City of God , 2002. Fernando Meireilles's film about ghetto kid gangsters in Brazil is a junior "Godfather," an unnervingly inspired film.

Trainspotting, 1996. Danny Boyle's outstanding adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel turns Scottish heroin addicts into amazingly lovable rogues. A superbly edited and acted film.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 1998. Old-time British gangsters and cocky young poseurs combine to make this a riveting crime fantasy from Guy Ritchie.

Being John Malkovich, 1999. This weird journey into the heart (or brain) of actor Malkovich's darkness marked the exclamation-point arrival of director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

Sling B lade, 1996. Billy Bob Thornton's character, Karl Childers, is a biblical wonder, a man with a shady past who seems to keep on living after the movie. After you watch this, you just want to imitate his guttural " Mmm-hhhm ."

Magnolia, 1999. "Boogie Nights" was brilliant enough. But Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia" is high art. A magnificent movie set in Los Angeles about fate, love and tragedy with an all-star cast.

Yes, there was life before 1994's "Pulp Fiction." Here is a list of 10 great independent movies that goes back as far as the 1970s. In no particular order:

Reservoir Dogs, 1992. In many ways this is an even better film than "Pulp Fiction." Tarantino's sun-splashy film noir pays tribute to everything from Hong Kong gangster films to Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing."

Repo Man , 1984. Alex Cox's science-fictiony film about a world of men who repossess cars is a cool, out-there fantasy.

Blue Velvet, 1986. David Lynch has made so many great films, but this dark vision of American life -- featuring Kyle MacLachlan as an innocent who discovers a bizarre underworld beneath suburbia -- deserves its own grim category.

She's Gotta Have It, 1986. Spike Lee's sensational debut about a special woman (Tracy Camilla Johns) and her three lovers, introduced his own one-of-a-kind humor, a new sensibility and the whole Spike industry.

El Mariachi, 1992. Robert Rodriguez made this brilliant post-Sergio Leone flick set in Mexico on a shoestring. A guitarist as lone hero? Who knew?

Pink Flamingos , 1972. John Waters's gross-out classic is not to be missed. I couldn't eat eggs for months after seeing the Egg Lady, who eats 'em and eats 'em.

The Thin Blue Line, 1988. Errol Morris's film about a Texas man who was falsely imprisoned for murder started an ongoing revolution of personal documentaries as high art.

Slacker, 1991. Richard Linklater's debut, a movie that coined a new word and put Austin on everyone's hip map, became the story of an entire generation.

Bottle Rocket, 1996. Director Wes Anderson's debut set in Texas, which also introduced a funny young man named Owen Wilson to the world, remains the funniest, quirkiest film he has made.

Stranger Than Paradise, 1983. Jim Jarmusch began to establish himself as a sort of indie father figure with this slice-of-lifer about a New York hipster who gets a surprise visit from his Hungarian cousin.
If you haven't seen Momento, Clerks, Pulp Fiction, or Amores Perros, you have to pick at least one up tonight from your local Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. I'd stake my life on it that they'll have at least two of the above in stock.

And for what it's worth, here's four of my favorite indies, which didn't make the list but I watch over and over and over again for no other reason than they make me happy.

Donnie Darko, 2001. A disturbed, delusional young man sees visions of a demonic bunny rabbit named Frank who tells him the end of the world is at hand.

Y Tu Mama Tambien, 2001. Two teenage boys set out with a broken-heartened older women to find a beach that may not exist. Very erotic.

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys,2002. If you're Catholic, like I once was, rent this coming-of-age tale first about a group of rebellious boys battling boredom and their teacher-nun through the use of comic books and a cougar.

The Motorcylce Diaries, 2004. Tells the tale of Ernesto Guevara De La Serna and his friend, Alberto Granando, as they travel throughout South America. The journey turned Guevara into the guerilla great, el Che.