movie night in hell
Watching Downfall helped me remember that Kanopy is a thing. It also reminded me that movies are good. It's easy to forget that, but watching a movie is a 1.5-2 hour chunk of time in which, as long as I can get into the right frame of mind, I don't have to think about anything else. And as difficult as it can be, sometimes only thinking about one thing for awhile is what I need. So, with 9 credits left and a week before they reset, I'm trying to make the most of them.
I've tried watching a couple things on Hoopla, but every time I do I get an error that says the limit for my library has been reached for the day, and I should try again after midnight. Well, I'm not up after midnight, and I get that message no matter how early I try to borrow something—I usually don't remember before noon, but really, 12 hours should be plenty of time, and the overall quality of movies on Hoopla is more questionable, so I'm not going to worry about it. Kanopy's worked perfectly for me.
I tried to watch The Good Old Naughty Days, which I thought was going to be a documentary about early pornography, which would've been interesting, but it turns out to just be a compilation. Which is kind of interesting, but the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. There's no sort of explanatory text or information given, the audio is nothing but completely generic old-timey piano tunes, not reactive to what's happening on screen; they couldn't even be bothered to subtitle the non-English text that occasionally makes an appearance. I'm looking for something with a bit more story, so I tuned out pretty quick.
Next, I was looking at movies that will be leaving the platform soon, and I noticed they have UHF, which I haven't seen since I was probably in my early 20s but remembered fondly. When I started watching, though, I got a creeping feeling that this is one of the ones that didn't age well, and I turned that one off fairly quickly too.
But then I thought to rewatch Red Letter Media's review of the movie, and it reminded me of all the stuff I like about it, and I gave it another chance. I'm glad I did. Some of the jokes definitely do not hold up, but I think the overall vibe of the movie aged incredibly well.
It's one of the few comedies of that era that I think succeeds at being both funny and genuinely heartwarming. It's about a bunch of freaks and weirdos who come together to help a little community TV station, and fight off the big corporate giant who wants to run them out of business. The network affiliate/UHF dynamic is a little awkward today, but I think it's easy to see a parallel to the modern day with independent media on youtube and other internet distributors. I like how George (Weird Al) gets all his weird friends from their community together, and how they save Channel 62 by letting everyone in town be a stockholder. It's truly a tale of co-op vs. capitalism, which we don't see that often.
I like how the freaks and weirdos are never the butts of the joke. Forgetting about Michael Richards' unfortunate career suicide for a moment, his performance as Stanley Spadowski is the heart and soul of the movie. Stanley is goofy, and clumsy, and the way he thinks is wildly different than anyone else, but the movie never makes fun of him. George and the protagonists never make fun of him. Only the villains do.
Only the villains are shitty to women. When George first introduces himself to Pamela and she laments that she wants to work in news, but she'll never be promoted past secretary as long as management keeps changing, George immediately puts her in charge of news. It's not even a point of drama, there's no big "you have to prove yourself" moment, it's just obvious. She's clearly passionate about it, the station doesn't have any news programming, why not give her a shot? She nails it and Fran Drescher is great in the role.
I thought the movie was going to take a shitty turn when Teri breaks up with George for forgetting her birthday and humiliating her, and George starts love-bombing her and begging her to take him back. I forgot how that story thread goes, and I really hoped it wouldn't turn into a "win the girl through sheer perseverance" lesson, and... it didn't. Teri didn't respond to his pleas, and George accepted it. The focus of the movie shifts away from their relationship, and Teri has no interactions with George other than watching Channel 62, watching the station grow, watching George put everything he has into making it the best station he can. She comes to respect him, and forgives him all on her own. I love this line towards the end of the movie, when she approaches him to reconcile:
George: Teri, what are you doing here? I thought you never wanted to see me again.
Teri: Whatever gave you that idea?
George: Well, I guess my first clue was when you told me you never wanted to see me again.
I love it. Straight guys, if she says she wants nothing to do with you, accept it. Work on yourself. Try to achieve other goals. Try to be a better person. If she changes her mind, she'll let you know, but don't obsess over it. Don't try to "win" her, try to be a person worth winning. Are there any other 80s comedies with a healthy romance subplot? I seriously doubt it.
There are few jokes that aged like milk, and it makes a couple racially insensitive choices (having an Asian-American actor do an exaggerated wacky stereotype accent, having a white guy play Gandhi in the Gandhi II parody trailer, devoting a truly bizarre amount of time to a joke in which the film's only latino character makes a Blazing Saddles reference that no one under the age of 37 will get today) but it just comes across as tone-deaf rather than malicious.
It's really remarkable how kind the movie is for the time it came out. The shitbag corporate suits all get extremely satisfying comeuppance. All of the freaks and weirdos get revenge on the people who wronged them. The film treats all of them with respect. They're not just accepted, they're not just tolerated, their differences are the very thing that help save the day. The movie has flaws, but in the end, its kindness is what'll make it stand the test of time.
The other movie I watched is The Lighthouse. I don't have as much to say it about it—at least not the first time watching it—but I loved it. I'm not usually into horror, but this is absolutely my jam. It's pure psychological horror with just enough of a touch of the supernatural to keep you wondering. It's well-made, well-written and the performances are outstanding. It doesn't have cheap jump scares and it doesn't use music to artificially gin up the tension (it doesn't have music at all, like another of my favorite horror thrillers, No Country For Old Men.) It has disturbing violence without resorting to cartoonish gore. It's my kind of horror.
I understand that this kind of movie won't be for everyone, but for this genre, it's exactly what I want. I'll definitely be watching the director's previous film, The VVitch, and if The Northman ends up coming to Kanopy, I'll watch that too. I'm a fan of Robert Eggers now
I have 6 more credits left and plenty more in my watchlist, so I'll keep watching stuff and talking about it until I think of something else to write about. This isn't going to turn into a movie blog, but I want to make this a semi-regular feature, because I definitely need to make fiction a part of my normal media diet again if I want to be able to continue writing fiction. And I do 🦝