At this writing, movie theaters are closed across the Valley. Time for what may prove a long season of movie nights on the couch. I wanted to make some video suggestions, but my overarching suggestion: Watch your favorites. Watch movies that make you happy.
For me, these include the original Psycho, Sunset Boulevard, The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Them!, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (despite the “Bring out yer dead!” scene), My Favorite Year, The Stunt Man, The Maltese Falcon (1939), The Bride of Frankenstein, The Valley of Gwangi, The Verdict, Moonstruck, Tootsie, Jackie Brown, Rushmore, Casablanca, the original Lugosi version of Dracula, and the original 1933 version of King Kong. I also highly recommend, especially for kids, one of the great comfort movies, the classic Ray Harryhausen fantasy The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Also, though definitely NOT for the kids, Blazing Saddles, for a heartening depiction of true civic leadership in the face of adversity. Also, for everybody with a soul, the inexhaustibly joyous and hilarious Singin’ in the Rain.
But of course, everybody will have their own favorites.
If you can take it, consider a festival dedicated to the recently departed giant of film acting Max Von Sydow. It’s either the best or the worst possible time to watch him in Ingmar Bergman’s beautiful The Seventh Seal (1957), in which a medieval knight (Von Sydow), headed home during a plague, encounters death and talks him into a chess game with his life as the stakes.
But Von Sydow also played Jesus in 1965’s The Greatest Story Ever Told and Abner Hale in Hawaii and Father Merrin in The Exorcist and Ming the Merciless in 1980’s Flash Gordon and Blofeld in Never Say Never Again and the silent old man in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. He turned up in Conan the Barbarian and Woody Allen’s Hannah and her Sisters and David Lynch’s Dune and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He was even on Game of Thrones.
I have a special affection, however, for Von Sydow in 1983’s absurd Canadian comedy Strange Brew, playing it absolutely straight as an evil Brewmeister menacing the beloved SCTV “hosers” Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas). Perhaps more than any other, Von Sydow’s turn here showed him to be not only a magnificent artist, but also a total pro and a good sport.
One final note: FilmBar Phoenix owner Kelly Aubrey is requesting the purchase of “tickets” (donations) to help the theater and its staff carry on during this closure. With a $120 donation, you get one free ticket a day for life! Go to thefilmbarphx.com for details.