A recommendation from a trusted source. A quirk that I wish to explore. A social commentary that can educate. Follow the actor. Follow the director.
Those are really the only five things that will inspire me to watch a movie. Luckily they’re nice and broad, so I still find myself watching a good amount of material. The five films I’ve watched most recently each capture one of the five aspects well. That’s all it takes to get me on board. Show me a movie that has one of the five, and I’ll show you some interest.
Remember when I shared my salty list of the top 10 sports films of all-time? I was badgered with many a recommendation after that, but one stood out. The cycling film “Breaking Away” was recommended to me by Standard-Speaker reporter Kent Jackson, a trusted source. I won’t take recommendations from just anyone. If a person strikes me as thoughtful, solid taste in film generally follows.
“The Big Chill”
I really like when a movie makes good use of popular music. “The Big Chill” has one of the most iconic soundtracks ever, chock-full with mid-’60s classics. Admittedly, I’ve been meaning to watch it for quite a while. When I found myself looking over my unwatched collection, I was searching for a single quirk that would keep me interested in whatever I was going to watch. A great soundtrack fits that bill.
“In the Heat of the Night”
Have you heard about the world? There’s a lot of protest and unrest surrounding the murder of George Floyd, police brutality and the shoddy system that allows for injustice. “In the Heat of the Night” is a cop story and a story about respecting people who don’t look like you. I thought perhaps it would provide some insight in these times that feel tonally consistent with the 1967 world in which “In the Heat of the Night” was released.
“Lilies of the Field”
One side effect of watching “In the Heat of the Night” was re-admiring the talent of Sidney Poitier, a star who is still with us. He won an Oscar for “Lilies of the Field,” a pretty odd little story that does at least provide Poitier the chance to be the focal point of just about every scene. It made me realize again that, as great and acclaimed as he was, his opportunities were pretty limited. We all know why. That’s a real shame.
“The Elephant Man”
I’m woefully unexposed to the work of David Lynch. I thought “The Elephant Man” might be a good way to be introduced. If I feel like there’s a blind spot in my film education, particularly when it comes to directors, I like to fill in the blanks. Now having seen it, I think I understand where a lot of the hype stems from. There’s not another director who could’ve reproduced what Lynch did here.
Sam Zavada is a copy editor with The Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. He previously served as the news clerk at The Standard-Speaker, working with the obituaries and the community and lifestyle pages. Sam’s work in print dates back to his time at King’s College, where he spent two years as the editor in chief of the school’s newspaper, The Crown. Earlier in his time with The Crown, he worked as a staff writer and the entertainment manager. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.