Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Single Location Movies


Our place in both time and space can change us. That's all life really is...right? A series of times spent in certain places, playing out a certain events, coming in and out on bookends, different at then from where you began. Movies that reflect this are often great, and they do it simply by being simple... characters in a specific place, trying to figure things out or survive or learn and grow or all of those things.


So, it's Thursday, and I'm coming to you on location, my vacation location,...St. Augustine Beach, Florida. It's time for another entry in Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. This week...Single Location Movies.

Here are my picks:

12 Angry Men
dir. Sidney Lumet, 1957


It's just the best of this kind. Bottom line. And it's in my head, as I just read a piece from Allie over at Flick Chicks, who just saw this for the first time. I chose this as a Blind Spot last year and loved every minute of it. It is just so many things. But above all, it is a perfectly made one-room legal drama. And it's a small room, a jury deliberation, brought to life by brilliant black-and-white cinematography. I could go on and on...and did already, so I'll just direct you to the link I made a couple sentences back.

The Breakfast Club
dir. John Hughes, 1985


What Sidney Lumet did for the jury deliberation room, John Hughes did the same for the high school library. An eclectic mix of high school stereotypes played by a good portion of the "Brat Pack" of 80s movie lore (Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall) spend a Saturday in detention for various reasons and come to know more about themselves and each other than any of them could have ever fathomed. Here is a truly timeless film as relevant to teens today as it was to teens of thirty years ago. Technology advances, attitudes change, but the experiences and lessons of youth hold steady.

10 Cloverfield Lane
dir. Dan Trachtenberg, 2016


The first teaser trailer of this surprise early-2016 release had me going like none had in years. Tommy James and the Shondell's "I Think We're Alone Now" on top of some serious Lost, Season 2 vibes, a trio stuck in a bunker, waiting out some catastrophe, dread looming... It took way too long for me to get to it, but I did...finally...in the theater back in April. I never reviewed it, so consider this my huge praise for this movie and my recommendation for those who didn't see it. This is a confidently made thriller that works on one level, then another, then another, then another entirely, a Russian nesting doll of the things that have thrilled and chilled us in movies ranging from the paranoia of Hitchcock's Psycho and the claustrophobia of his Rear Window to the original Cloverfield via the J.J. Abrams machine and beyond. I LOVE this movie. 

25 comments:

  1. 12 Angry Men is popular today! I also chose it. I'm kicking myself for not picking 10 Cloverfield Lane now, that movie was great.

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    1. 12 Angry Men deservedly so. It's great! And 10 Cloverfield Lane really was awesome!

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  2. The two that I've seen are great picks! 12 Angry Men is so expertly shot and directed you forget you're confined to one room. Breakfast Club was such a huge thing when it first came out and exerted such an influence on pop culture and of course the careers of its cast, at least for a time. Haven't seen 10 Cloverfield Lane, it just sort of blew by me I'll have to look into it a bit more.

    I bent the rules a bit with my bonus but it's such a weird beast I'm not sure it would fit in any category.

    Albino Alligator (1997)-Starting with a trio of bungling thieves running from a robbery gone wrong they quickly take refuge in an underground bar in New Orleans. Suddenly the joint is surrounded by police but who the cops are pursuing is a murky issue. While the standoff endures emotions run high and dangers escalate. Kevin Spacey directed this stylish throwback with outstanding performances from Matt Dillon, Gary Sinise, William Fichtner, Viggo Mortensen and a wonderfully tough Faye Dunaway.

    Ten Little Indians (1965)-Ten guests arrive at a remote mountaintop mansion only to discover they don’t know each other nor their missing host. Before too long they start being killed off one by one in the fashion of the poem Ten Little Indians. Can any of them solve the mystery before it’s their turn? Second screen version of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” updated to the swingin’ sixties with more hep identities for most of the characters, i.e. Fabian as a rock star and the former spinster now a movie star!

    Rope (1948)-Two men murder a third, a friend of theirs, just to see what it feels like than throw a party while his body resides in a trunk in the middle of the room. Alfred Hitchcock directed this version of the Loeb/Leopold murder. An interesting experiment, the entire film was shot in sequence in extremely long takes, but very stagy. Good performances by James Stewart as the professor who innocently plants the idea in the men’s minds and Farley Granger & John Dall as the murderous lead pair. For a film released in the 50’s the leads are surprisingly obviously gay though it is never explicitly mentioned.

    Oddball Extra:

    “Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?” (1969)-Superstar Heironymus Merkin (Anthony Newley) is filming a movie of his life surrounded by piles of junk and a bed on a ribbon of beach as his mother and children bear witness. While the Greek chorus of devil’s advocate Goodtime Eddie Filth (Milton Berle) and The Presence (Georgie Jessel) battle for his soul Merkin works his way to the top of show biz becoming a drug loving sex addict along the way. Yet he longs for his lost true love, Mercy Humppe (Connie Kreski) despite his marriage to Polyester Poontang (Joan Collins-Newley’s wife at the time, their real life children play their kids in the film-Thaxted and Thumbelina!). Watching the uncompleted footage in a parallel time the producers of this opus scream for him to come up with an ending. Merkin shuffles through his memories to find some value in his life while singing a couple songs and screwing like a rabbit.
    Confused? What with a title like that you were expecting coherence? Watching the film won’t clear anything up for you! Newley directed, produced, wrote & composed the music (all badly) for this exercise in vanity which was originally rated X. This one’s a stretch but in the bizarro world in which it exists it fits, even though it seems to take place in multiple locations it all turns out to really happen at different spots on that damn beach!!

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    1. Definitely check out 10 Cloverfield Lane. Solid thriller very aware of its place in the movie world.

      I always wanted to see Albino Alligator, but never did. I also really need to see Rope, and much more Hitchcock than I have. I just watched Strangers on a Train and have Notorious coming up on my Blind Spot.

      Your Extra really sounds Oddball. Like for real. What a crazy sounding flick.

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    2. The late sixties, and the first couple of years of the seventies, offer a veritable wealth of this sort of cockamamie lunacy pictures. Films such as this, Oh Dad, Poor Dad Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad, Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Wild in the Streets, Skidoo, Head...etc. were weird pastiche surreal mashups that the studios put out to try and connect with the youth movement that they didn't understand.

      By and large they're abysmal pictures that try the patience of all but the most adventurous viewer though on occasion they came up with a small winner along the lines of Tell Me You Love Me, Junie Moon or The Sterile Cuckoo (both of which star Liza Minnelli in her best performances outside Cabaret-before she became LIZA and couldn't play anything else) that actually succeed because they treat their characters as real regular people.

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  3. 12 Angry Men is perfect and that is all that needs to be said. I also think that The Breakfast Club is perfect, but I know that a lot of people don't think so. Those people are idiots.

    I mostly liked 10 Cloverfield Lane, although the *SPOILER, KINDA* bullshit about it only being a "spiritual sequel" to Cloverfield kind of annoyed me, especially since as soon as the woman outside showed up I thought to myself "Please don't let them be doing what I think they're doing..." and then they did. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, though. Final Girl for the ages! And your description of it as a nesting doll of a film is kind of perfect.

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    1. At first, I felt the same way about the end of 10 Cloverfield Lane, but, as it sat, I came to really appreciate it. It's badass, in fact. And I love Mary Elizabeth Winstead...so damn much.

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  4. 12 Angry Men is popular today, and rightfully so. It is all sorts of great. So is The Breakfast Club. Surprised this is the only time it's been picked today. Hopefully, I will get to see 10 Cloverfield Lane soon.

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    1. Right on. Get that 10 Cloverfield Lane Blu. It's out now.

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  5. Yay! I was hoping someone would pick The Breakfast Club today. Excellent choices!

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    1. Thanks! First one I thought of.

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  6. I chose 12 Angry Men as well and this is the film of the week. Glad it is because it is such a powerful film on human nature. I just rewatched The Breakfest Club and it's good but the character of Judd Nelson is a bit much for my taste

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    1. It really is a great one. I love Judd Nelson! lol.

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  7. 12 Angry Men is amazing! I didn't expect it to capture my attention so much.

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  8. I was quite close to picking The Breakfast Club - classic film but it's not one I'd rave about. Love 12 Angry Men and I haven't see 10 Cloverfield Lane but if its this good I'll check it out.

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    1. Oh, I will rave about The Breakfast Club forever. One of those that hit me right at the right time. Such a timeless classic. 10 Cloverfield Lane is totally worth a watch.

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  9. Great picks! I chose 12 Angry Men as well, that film is just perfect. I loved the other two as well, and I wish I picked one of those instead of 127 Hours.

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    1. Thanks! 127 Hours is solid. I really dug it. Franco killed it in that movie.

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  10. I'm really looking forward to 10 Cloverfield Lane, gonna need to make a double feature of this and The Shallows as I heard great things about both

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    1. I hope you get to check it out soon. It's so worth seeing.

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  11. Out of all of your picks, I've only seen The Breakfast Club. It's one of my top 3 favorite high school movies from the 1980's (a close second to Heathers & just above Ferris Bueller's Day Off). It was my favorite movie when I was 11. I haven't watched it since I was 12. I do own 10 Cloverfield Lane, though, but I haven't got around to watching it yet. My brother did tell me it was excellent. And I want to watch 12 Angry Men. I'll buy the Criterion of it sometime this month during the Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble.

    The only 2 movies (that I've seen) I could pick for this category were the 1995 film Four Rooms (which I only saw once when I was 12, & I thought it was ok), & the 2002 film Panic Room. I thought about using Clerks for this, but then I remembered that in one scene, Dante & Randal went to their high school classmate's funeral, so it wasn't really in one location.

    I did, however, think of 2 single-location movies that I haven't seen, but I do want to watch them: the 2009 film Moon, & the 1984 film Secret Honor, directed by Robert Altman, & starring Philip Baker Hall as Richard Nixon.

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    1. Clerks would work here, I think. See Moon!!

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  12. Love your first two picks and 10 Cloverfield Lane is definitely one I'm looking forward to seeing.

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  13. I haven't seen the first Cloverfield film, but since the second one got such great reviews, I'm tempted to watch both now!

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