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MONDAY, JULY 16, 2007
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Get reel at home
Local movie buffs say these are the films to watch

By Danielle Komis Palmer
dpalmer@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

While life tends to move at 100 miles per hour, it seems that in summertime, that speed finally lets up just a bit.

There’s more time to lie by the pool, leisurely eat a bowl of watermelon or lie under the fan in the living room and watch a movie on the flat screen.

But why subject yourself to the sprawling land of new releases in your movie rental store?

Instead, branch out a bit and wander off the beaten path. Rent a movie that’s actually not a romantic comedy or action thriller and check out some films that local movie buffs insist everyone should see at some point in life.

Scott Sandlin of CD Exchange in Decatur and Jon Burleson of Sign me Up! Productions in Hartselle offered us some of their top picks for favorite flicks.

Pick a few on the list and go for it! You might be surprised that a movie not featuring Lindsay Lohan or Adam Sandler can actually be enjoyable.

“Seven Samurai.” 1954. Unrated.

Stars: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Synopsis:

A village of farmers under attack from a group of 40 bandits recruit seven ronin (samurais without masters) to protect them from the marauders. The samurai prepare the villagers for the coming conflict with the bandits by fortifying the village and training them in basic fighting techniques while struggling to learn to trust and respect each other. The climactic final siege of the village is truly one of the most beautifully filmed scenes in cinematic history.

Why Watch?:

Many consider “Seven Samurai” Kurosawa’s masterpiece and American Film Institute has ranked it the 12th greatest film of all time. The plot development, art direction and cinematography (including the use of slow-motion for dramatic effect) have been influential to many American directors from George Lucas to Steven Soderbergh.

Bonus: The American western “The Magnificent Seven” was adapted from “Seven Samurai.

“Rosemary’s Baby.” 1968. Rated R.

Stars: Mia Farrow, Ruth Gordon, John Cassavetes

Director: Roman Polanski

Synopsis:

A young couple, Rosemary and Guy, move into a New York City apartment complex. An apparent suicide by one of the young female tenants leads Rosemary and Guy to befriending Minnie and Roman, an older couple who looked after the girl. Soon Rosemary becomes pregnant and paranoia sits in. An odd dream, peculiar activities, and difficulties with her own pregnancy cause Rosemary to believe her nice neighbors are members of a coven of witches, and that they want her baby.

Why Watch?:

A classic psychological horror film that jump-started the satanic horror movies of the ’70s such as “The Exorcist” and “The Omen.” Wonderful directing and great acting, especially from Ruth Gordon.

Bonus: The outside of the apartment complex is The Dakota in New York City. John Lennon lived in The Dakota and was murdered outside the building.

“Young Frankenstein.” 1974. Rated PG.

Stars: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Teri Garr, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman

Director: Mel Brooks

Synopsis:

The grandson of the infamous Victor von Frankenstein reluctantly inherits the mad scientist’s castle. Grandson Frederick is determined not to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, but upon arriving at the castle he discovers a book chronicling the experiments that gave birth to the legend. Frederick then dives headfirst into reproducing them and ends up creating Peter Boyle’s brilliantly played take on The Monster. The local townspeople set their sights on destroying The Monster, no matter how harmless he may be, as Wilder and company fight to save it.

Why Watch?:

With an outrageously hilarious cast of characters highlighted by Boyle as the Monster combined with many subtle and quirky jokes (such as changing the pronunciation of Frankenstein) this piece of slapstick is a can’t-miss.

Bonus: Watch for Marty Feldman’s Igor (pronounced eye-gor) character’s hump switching sides throughout the film.

“A Tale of Two Sisters.” 2003. Unrated.

Stars: Su-jeong Lim, Geun-yeong Mun, Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum

Director: Ji-woon Kim

Synopsis:

After a lengthy hospital stay, two young girls return home to their father and stepmother. The stepmother is welcoming, but becomes increasingly confrontational. The mind games and bickering among the three women become more sinister and mysterious. The father has a detached, dispassionate view of the household dynamic that becomes clearer through two sublime plot twists. The film’s climax is so well executed that it almost forces you to re-watch the film in its entirety.

Why Watch?:

There is a reason why recently so many of Hollywood’s most successful horror and thriller films have been remakes of Korean or Japanese movies. The plot build is slow and brings curiosity, confusion and suspense. The cinematography offers larger-than-life color scales that add an eerie sense of unease.

Bonus: “A Tale of Two Sisters” is closely based of a famous Korean folk tale “Janghwa Heungryeonjeon.

“Clerks.” 1994. Rated R.

Stars: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes

Director: Kevin Smith

Synopsis:

A day in the life of two convenience store employees named Dante and Randal. Watch as they slack on the job, complain, have discussions about “Star Wars,” and make everyday happenings seem funnier than they are.

Why Watch?:

It’s funny because it’s true, and it’s funnier if you’ve ever been a clerk. It sums up the feelings and attitude of a generation.

Bonus: Filmed on just over $20,000. The movie went on to make Kevin Smith a cult hero and also made the quote “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” a classic.

“V for Vendetta.” 2006. Rated R.

Stars: Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman

Director: James McTeigue

Synopsis: Set in the near future, “V for Vendetta” is the story of a vigilante named V and a young girl named Evey. They cross paths as V tries to cause an uprising in the totalitarian state in which he lives, and get payback on prominent political party members who helped to make him what he has become.

Why watch? Hugo Weaving’s performance alone. A good plot mixed with amazing visuals and just enough action.

“Halloween.” 1978. Rated R.

Stars: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles

Director: John Carpenter

Synopsis: Six-year-old Michael Myers murders his sister on Halloween night, 1963. Fifteen years later he escapes from Smith’s Grove mental institution to murder again ... on Halloween. Only his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, is up to the task of stopping him.

Why watch? Helped start the 1980s slasher flicks and gave Jamie Lee Curtis a career. At the time of its release it was regarded as one of the scariest films since Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” The suspense still holds up.

“Back to the Future.” 1985. Rated PG.

Stars: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Synopsis: A teen takes his scientist pal’s time machine back to 1955 and almost erases himself from existence when his mom gets a crush on him.

Why watch? A classic plot and fun adventure with unforgettable performances by Lloyd and Fox.

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