UK | USA, 1995, 111 minutes, Dir. Lawrence Kasdan
This delightful screwball romcom finds Kate ('90s superstar Meg Ryan), an American with a fear of flying, wrapped up in the illegal schemes of the very "French" and mustached Luc (Kline) as they bounce around the European country trying to win back Kate’s wayward fiancé. French Kiss is what I call a Laundry Fodder Film: an enjoyable movie you can put on in the background as you do laundry or tidy your room.
The plot is well-trodden enough that you don’t have to pay close attention to the first two-thirds, but by the end you’re half-assedly matching socks as you get fully absorbed in the film's final moments. French Kiss is perfect escapist content for this moment, when the world feels like it's on fire. Let Ryan and Kline’s PG-13 chemistry soothe you as you snuggle under warm sheets fresh out of the dryer. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Italy | France | Germany, 1994, 105 minutes, Dir. Michele Soavi
Which one of you assholes knew about Dellamorte Dellamore and didn't tell me about it?! I wish I'd learned of this film years ago, and so now I'm paying it forward by demanding you watch this if you've got a thing for 1) daddy-fop Rupert Everett, 2) schlocky Italian horror, and/or 3) a horned-up zombie Anna Falchi.
The basic premise here is that Everett plays a cemetery custodian with a slight problem: the dead keep coming back to life. They die for good pretty easily—Everett's character just needs to chop their heads in two—but it's still a pain in the ass. The film starts out as a zombie flick, and then it's a softcore porno, and then it's a serial killer flick, and then it's existential surrealism. Just roll with it and be happy you still have a head.
The film is an excellent entry point into the world of director Michele Soavi, known for being Dario Argento's longtime assistant and collaborator. Their styles occasionally overlap, but Soavi is much funnier while still keeping it sexy, bloody, and Italian. US audiences would love this film if it were easier to find. Scarecrow has multiple copies, and someone else had checked out one of them when I last visited. People want it!! CHASE BURNS
Germany, 2002, 108 minutes, Dir. Robert Schwentke
Diehl plays rookie detective Marc Schrader hot on the trail of a serial killer who targets Berliners with very cool and very rare tattoos. This unhinged killer skins victims and auctions off their “pieces” in an underground skin market. And, as if that's not enough, his grizzled partner Minks (Christian Redl) doesn't like him very much. It's an American thriller done German style.
The tattoo premise is an appropriately unnerving conceit that (predictably) leaves a lot of beautiful naked women mangled. But from my perspective as an art critic, it's an interesting angle to consider. How can tattoo artists' work continue to be appreciated after their (living, breathing) canvas kicks the can? If consensual, what are the ethics of, um, skinning someone post-mortem and hanging their skin in the museum? It's fucked up! But it got me thinking! JASMYNE KEIMIG
USA, 1976, 87 minutes, Dir. Mel Brooks
I've been in a Mel Brooks mood. Maybe it's because I've been thinking about grandma, and she loves Blazing Saddles. Brooks's big-budget headassery can be cozy to watch—although I'll admit that I can't think of Mel Brooks without thinking about the "excessive hubris" of his Broadway production of Young Frankenstein, with its tickets ranging between $120 and $450. Brooks is a scammer. But, you know: Blazing Saddles! The Producers! Young Frankenstein! Big movies!
The lesser-known Brooks film Silent Movie was a box office gag that ended up doing pretty well, making over $36 million on a $4 million budget. The set-up is simple: Brooks plays a character named Mel, who's trying to make a silent film while navigating the chutes and ladders of Hollywood in the '70s. The color film is silent itself, with only one word of dialogue, which ironically comes from the French mime Marcel Marceau. The real gag is the slew of Hollywood actors who get recruited to star in this thing as themselves: Burt Reynolds in a shower, James Caan working out, Liza Minnelli dressed as a queen, Anne Bancroft being hot. Bernadette Peters makes a significant contribution and livens up the film, but she plays a showgirl named Vilma Kaplan instead of herself. Rude. CHASE BURNS