By Gerald Peary
Celebrate impeachment in your home with this critic’s 14th list of movies guaranteed to entertain.
The Trip (1967) — The oft-maligned Peter Fonda is quite persuasive as an estranged dropout from the world of advertising who finds his inner Timothy Leary. Watch Fonda under LSD studying an orange, muttering, “flowing with energy, the sun in my hand.” The Trip is an amusing hallucinatory journey thanks also to Roger Corman’s ingenious low-budget surrealism: red gels, close-ups of kaleidoscopes, and outtakes of dwarfs and trolls from his bygone Poe movies. Scripted by Jack Nicholson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmZCwcGu_2I
Why Shoot the Teacher (1977) — Bud Cort is as cute as a button as a callow city boy who travels to the Saskatchewan prairies during the Depression to teach in a one-room schoolhouse. The kids are an odd and raggedy bunch, but lucky Bud meets comely Samantha Eggar to get him through the interminable winter. It’s a touching film without indulging in sentimentality, and who can forget the scene when Bud must spank the largest bully in his class to maintain the students’ respect? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_F_C7xkHpY
North Dallas Forty (1979) — The most accurate of football-themed features. The roughhouse parties feel like real athletes’ Dionysian revelries; the gritty football practices seem genuine, and Nick Nolte and singer Mac Davis are superbly cast as players for the mythical North Dallas Bulls. Instead, think Dallas Cowboys. Peter Gent, who wrote the novel and co-wrote the screenplay, played for them in their glory days. They were the Team You Loved to Hate, anticipating our own unloved New England Patriots. On Amazon Prime. https://www.amazon.com/North-Dallas-Forty-Nick-Nolte/dp/B07S65CYH8
Wild Style (1983) — You need to jump over the lethal third rail of the lame fictional story and get to the snazzy documentary footage. Here’s the celebratory ’80s tale of how the New York subways were messed up and dirtied up artistically by graffiti geniuses wielding spray cans, creating a subterranean museum on wheels. Hip-hop poets and Black break-dancers enliven an inviting cultural moment in the South Bronx that will never be seen again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaXMfw0IJOo
Run Lola Run (1999) — German filmmaker Tom Twyker: “The story is pretty simple. You have 20 minutes to run through your city to rescue your true love.” The primal pleasure of this movie: a healthy body in rhythmic motion, arms and legs, breasts and butt. Actress Franka Potente, as Lola, moves so freely, bolting through the urban environs to save her sketchy boyfriend. The other enjoyment is the filmmaking: Twyker’s bubbly techno soundtrack (he co-wrote it), the kicky mix of 35mm, video, animation sequences, and fast-cut Polaroid sections. There are three disparate endings. Which is the truthful telling? Rashomon on speed. $3.99 rental. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uq2wblNt2o
Gerald Peary is a Professor Emeritus at Suffolk University, Boston, curator of the Boston University Cinematheque, and the general editor of the “Conversations with Filmmakers” series from the University Press of Mississippi. A critic for the late Boston Phoenix, he is the author of nine books on cinema, writer-director of the documentaries For the Love of Movies: the Story of American Film Criticism and Archie’s Betty, and a featured actor in the 2013 independent narrative Computer Chess. His new feature documentary, The Rabbi Goes West, co-directed by Amy Geller, is playing at film festivals around the world.