Independent Wonders Made From Money Found Under Couch Cushions Edition
The Evil Dead is quite possibly the most celebrated B-Movie fright fest in the history of American cinema, and it's not hard to see why. The directorial debut of Sam Raimi wants nothing more than to take you on a wild ride through an array of gross-outs, and discount parlor tricks, throwing everything at the screen from claymation, to a rather sexually aggressive tree. Bruce Campbell is the perfect lead actor for such an absurd vehicle, mucking it up with eyes the size of golfballs as his friends disappear one by one from the sequestered cabin where they fatefully decided to spend the weekend. Many prefer the latter two installments in Raimi's trilogy, Evil Dead 2 likely possessing Campbell's finest performance, Army of Darkness doubtlessly taking the cake where comedy is concerned. Personally, I favor the original, which pairs its, 'let's put on a show', excitement with scenes that alternate between laughably silly, and actually scary. The Evil Dead launched Raimi's career, and has been elevated to the very highest rung of cult movie status imaginable since it's initial release more than 30 years ago. If a goofy gore-fest sounds like your thing, and you've never checked this one out, it's time to invite friends over, turn the lights out, and click play.
Richard Linklater loves dialogue. His films make no buts about it, from Waking Life's tripped-out philosophy lecture, to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset's chatty lovers, Linklater is among the best in American movies at first writing a conversation, and then filming it beautifully. Slacker, the first film that just about anybody saw from this well-traveled auteur, showcases this strength almost exclusively. The flick is subsistent of hugely varied discussions, all taking place in the same metropolis, but switching out speakers at the drop of a hat. There's no protagonist here (unless you want to go all meta, and say it's Linklater), just a bunch of city folks, young and old, strange and normal, tittering away about anything from societal upheaval, to Madonna's pap smear. Those who need A to connect to B might want to look elsewhere: Slacker is defiantly plotless, having all kinds of zany, thoughtful, head-scratching fun within its loopy, otherworldly paradigm.
An all-time favorite that I can never help from revisiting, Swingers is a guy's movie with humor, swagger, and heart. Jon Favreau stars as Mikey, a down-on-his-luck comedian who recently moved from New York to Los Angeles in the wake of a nasty break-up. While struggling to make it on the West Coast, Mike hits the town with his two best buddies; loyal, understanding Rob (Ron Livingston), and boisterous ladies-man Trent (Vince Vaughn). It's a simple movie, one about long nights out on the town in which you learn a little more about yourself, stuffed with casually hilarious dialogue, and oozing with style. Director Doug Liman throws in references from 90's peers Reservoir Dogs and Goodfellas as Vaughn delivers what is hands down my personal favorite performance of his career. It's small, unassuming stuff, wonderful at illuminating the powers of friendship and self-esteem when it's not busy making you laugh till it hurts.