One Good Movie - The Return
A weekly newsletter for movie lovers with taste but not much time.
Did you wonder if there were no more good movies?
Is cinema dead?
No. I took a vacation.*
Hey, I’m back.
And with four movies for the price of one.
First, a companion piece to our last film, Over the Edge, check out the punk rock teenage melodrama Suburbia.
Directed by Penelope Spheeris the film focuses on neglected youth of the early eighties. Spheeris fills her frame with real street kids and captures live music performances from an era long burned away by drugs and alcohol.
Next, two from Chicago native William Friedkin. He died last month.
Friedkin cut his teeth on documentaries and television, before heading to Hollywood. His first two masterpieces, The French Connection and The Exorcist, lift heavily from the “in the moment” style of documentary filmmaking.
A brilliant mind and artist, Friedkin was also a notorious asshole. So when his expensive, globetrotting, follow-up to The Exorcist bombed, he found studios less willing to throw money at his mercurial fancies.
That bomb is Sorcerer. You may have seen it, but have you watched it on a massive modern screen?
It’s a remake of The Wages of Fear. Both films are excellent, but I favor the grainy grime of Friedkin’s picture. Complimented by a banger of a theme by Tangerine Dream, Sorcerer is one of the best, under-seen films of the 1970s.
Why did it bomb?
It was released in the summer of 1977.
By that year audience tastes and marketing influences began shifting to the wunderkinds Spielberg and Lucas. The latter’s matinee space opera came out a month before we could see Roy Scheider risk it all in the jungles of Latin America with a truck full of nitroglycerin.
Friedkin may have lost in 1977, but film lovers have been savoring Sorcerer ever since.
He continued to direct, but 1985’s To Live in Die in LA is the last time the movie gods truly blessed him.
The film serves up all the style of Miami Vice transferred to the orange sunsets of Los Angeles.
A young, cocky William Peterson, is a secret service agent hunting down, a young, devilish counterfeiter, Willem Dafoe. If you embrace the eighties style, you’ll be rewarded with a dark, hard-nosed, procedural that’s both thrilling and bleak.
Like The French Connection, Friedkin stages one of the all-time great car chases on the backstreets and highways of Los Angeles.
To cleanse yourself from the filth of punk kids and the excessive toxic masculinity of Billy Friedkin, I have one more film for you:
In an era when real-life Bond villains exert control over our lives and politics, it’s comforting to see good triumphing over evil.
The three-strip Technicolor process makes the colors pop.
Michael Curtiz directs Errol Flynn in the titular role.
Want to talk about a movie star? Flynn’s charisma and swagger stretch past the screen.
Robin Hood enchants from start to finish.
Watch it with your kids.
*In Europe, we have this concept called vacation. You work hard most of the year and then take a break. When you return to work you’re rested and a better performer. You also spend time with friends and family.
I highly recommend it.
Dollywood - Summer 23