Like any number of films “based on a true story,” the docu-comedy 24 Hour Party People frequently exaggerates, distorts, fabricates and otherwise obfuscates the historical truth of its subject matter (in this case, the Manchester music scene of the 80s and 90s). The difference is, this picture does so openly, amusingly, and with a cheerful wink to its audience.
Check It Out Category: Picks by John
Reuniting the director and screenwriter of the classic The Third Man, Our Man in Havana is the missing link in Alec Guinness’ career between the light comedies he made as a young actor for Ealing Studios and his later turn as spymaster George Smiley—an understated espionage romp with surprisingly dark undertones.
Rumor has it that The Time’s eponymous debut album is effectively a Prince solo side project: written, produced and performed by the legendarily prolific artist, with Morris Day’s vocals the only other contribution. True or false, this slice of outstanding pop-funk can easily stand alongside the Purple One’s Dirty Mind/Controversy-era peak.
Greg Sestero’s memoir The Disaster Artist details his time as a reluctant star of the modern cult classic movie The Room, exploring his awkward friendship with the film’s bizarre writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau. Sestero’s narration of the audiobook allows him to show off his uncanny Wiseau impression across a series of hilarious anecdotes.
Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive reigns undisputed as the messiest zombie movie ever made. In Jackson’s gleefully over-the-top, relentlessly gory, black comedy, Lionel’s overbearing mother receives a bite of an evil Sumatran “rat monkey”. Soon she’s snacking on the neighbors, who rapidly zombify – and then things escalate (watch for the lawnmower).
The documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune chronicles the cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s mid-70’s attempt to mount an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic SF novel Dune. Jodorowsky is a magnetic raconteur, detailing plans (A score by Pink Floyd! Designs by Moebius! Casting Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger in roles!) that suggest a fascinating divergence from the eventual 1984 David Lynch film.
Richard McGuire’s inventive graphic novel Here is set in a single location for its entire duration: the corner of a room in a house. However, each double-page image depicts this fixed space at a different moment throughout time, ranging the complete span of human history and beyond. Grand changes play out over the years, juxtaposed against mundane still moments in the lives the home’s various inhabitants. Events echo throughout time, such as when a window into the décor of 2014 is used to resonate with a scene from 1775. Styles change, children grow older, and lives unfold in unexpectedly affecting fragments. Here demonstrates that both the beautiful and ordinary qualities of life alike can remain strangely similar in any era.
For more formally complex graphic novels, try…
Upstream Color unfolds in an elliptical manner, inviting viewers to deduce the narrative with limited dialogue and an absence of exposition. However, it would be a mistake to dismiss this as some gimmicky puzzle film: Amy Seimetz’s outstanding lead performance reveals the powerful emotional heart at the center of this ecological sci-fi love story.
David Milch’s brilliant, confounding HBO series John From Cincinnati defies easy classification – the closest most come is “surf noir” – but ultimately, it’s about the same thing as his previous series (the all-time classic Deadwood): how strange and damaged people come together to form unlikely communities.
Van Duren came out of the same 70’s Memphis music scene as the cultishly adored band Big Star, so it isn’t too surprising that his 1977 debut album Are You Serious? draws heavily from shared influences like Badfinger and Todd Rundgren. Melodic almost to a fault, Are You Serious? is an overlooked gem of 70’s power-pop.