Oh, October. You bring orange-colored leaves, a healthy dose of chilly weather and, of course, Maceo Parker, as illustrated in this week’s 72 Hours (yes, that was a shameless plug). You are the last full month before we turn the clocks back an hour, and you amuse us with your ability to make perfectly reasonable people dress up in highly embarrassing costumes as soon as the end of your 31 days nears.
Most importantly, your beginning also means a fresh dose of Netflix Pix, the award-winning (that’s a joke) monthly feature that profiles five suggestions for you — yes, you! — to consider the next time you peruse the instant streaming section of the Big Red Enveloped Machine. It’s like a jumbo-sized tub of pretzel rods: No matter how much you may try, there really is no end in sight.
This month, we take a look at two newspaper-centric classics, one of which, I am on record as saying is on the list of the three best media movies ever. We also have the fourth season of the single most “I don’t know how I feel about this” show on television today, a comedy that most people dismissed the second it hit the theater and a lot of silence. Yes. A whole lot of silence.
So behold the following picks for the month of October, the year of 2012. Laugh. Cry. Cook up some nice hot chocolate. Get ready to check out Peter Gabriel at the Patriot Center next week. And cozy up with any of these five things. All thank you notes can be addressed to The Frederick News-Post/351 Balenger Center Drive/Frederick, MD, 21703.
Onward and upward …
1. “The Front Page” — It’s a play, and the movie in question isn’t the only production of such that is out there. That said, I can’t imagine any rendition being better than the 1974 film with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Or, as some of you might say, “The Grumpy Old Men” dudes. But this was before either was grumpy or even fairly old. Lemmon never got better than 1960’s “The Apartment” (though 1959’s “Some Like It Hot” sure came close), but here, he’s able to capture that youthful energy with which he was always synonymous as his Hildy Johnson is both honest and addicting, a true example of why he was one of the great actors of a generation. Matthau, meanwhile, plays a perfect old school editor, as his Walter Burns is equally as powerful as he is devoid of all decency. Johnson wants to quit newspapers for good to become a married man. Burns will have none of it. Hilarity ensues. If you give me three newspaper movies outside of “Citizen Kane,” I’m going with “All The President’s Men,” “Absence Of Malice” and this. Even if you don’t like print media stories, this is well worth your time. Promise.
2. “Breaking Bad” (Season 4) — The first series to be mentioned here twice (only because this set of episodes is now available, whereas before, they hadn’t even aired), this is without doubt the best of the bunch when it comes to AMC’s baby-that-isn’t-named-Mad-Men. What makes it all so memorable? Gus Fring, as played by the 2011 breakout star in television, Giancarlo Esposito. All told, it’s one of the finest performances of a villain TV has seen in the last decade or so, and those eyes combined with that stare will literally be enough to make you lose at least a few minutes of sleep at night.
3. “Hot Tub Time Machine” — From the serious to the sublime. All right, look: This isn’t going to be the funniest movie you’ll ever watch. In fact, even just seeing that it is listed in this group is probably enough to make you say to yourself, “You know what? I’m just going to click over to that pop culture blog or something.” And I can understand all of those preconceived notions — I was working under the same assumptions. But hear me out. Let’s say it’s a Saturday night and you don’t feel like like leaving your warm house or apartment to venture into the “Oh, man. It’sthis cold already” weather that will inevitably trickle in this month. Plus, you don’t have any money, and you want a flippant, easy to follow, ridiculous and at times unbearable comedy that runs less than two hours. Well, goodness gracious. This movie is for you. Craig Robinson is funny, right? And Rob Corddry has one of the funniest Twitter accounts in the history of man. So … boom. Add in Clark Duke (where did he go, nobody asks) and the egotistical John Cusack, and you’ve got yourself a remedy to those cold, broke nights. Hey, it’s instant, remember. What else would you do? Redbox “The Hunger Games?”
4. “The Pianist” — … And from the sublime back to the serious. This is a great movie. It’s not a good movie. It’s a great movie. Adrien Brody became the youngest winner who ever received an Oscar for Best Actor because of this performance, and it’s really hard to argue against that, regardless of how odd his nose looks. Roman Polanski also took home the Best Director trophy, and Ronald Harwood won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Yeah, it will run you about two and a half hours (the last hour of which occurs almost entirely without dialogue), but all told, it’s as good a dramatic performance from a 29-year-old as you could find. It’s dark. It’s sad. It’s long. It’s tough to chew through. But once you do, you’ll be a lot better for it. Cancel the weekend’s plans. Sit with “The Pianist.”
5. “The Paper” — It all comes full circle here, with the second of two newspaper-centric films on this month’s list. Its cast is a bit of an ensemble as Michael Keaton (where are you today, sir?), Glenn Close, a young Marisa Tomei, Randy Quaid and Robert Duvall come together for this 24-hour snapshot of life at a newspaper. You have music from the brilliant Randy Newman. You have direction from the wonderful Ron Howard. And you have a real, live press room that allows those who have never seen a press to take in the filthiness in all its glory. Plus, you have an obligatory “Stop the presses!” moment. Yeah, it’s not as good as “The Front Page,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a night with a cup of hot cocoa and memories of how great life was in 1994.