Jeff Bayer’s Remedial Film School at Film School Rejects with Drew McWeeny, Amy Nicholson, and Vince Mancini

I have been thrilled to bring readers to the Remedial Film School at Film School Rejects.

Here are a select few of the films that notable film personalities and critics have had me watch…

Drew McWeeny chooses Dead Man.

Drew McWeeny of Hitfix.com is our first guest, and he chose Dead Man, saying it somehow is connected to the Dreamworks animated film Home, which opens March 27.

It’s time to get things started.

McWeeny explains: So why Dead Man?

When I have the entire sum total of every movie Jeff Bayer has not seen to choose from, and I choose Dead Man, it’s a fair question. What makes that movie special? Why should that film be seen by everyone, much less by Bayer specifically?

For one thing, when I bitch in public about feeling let down by Johnny Depp’s choices for the last decade, Dead Man is the best example of why I consider his current work so problematic. Jim Jarmusch’s meditative joke about the death of the American Mythic West is full of tremendously talented actors playing all sorts of roles, and none of that works unless the figure at the center of things can hold it all together. Depp is tremendous as William Blake, a man who feels completely lost and helpless as he wanders this blasted hellscape.
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Amy Nicholson chooses All About Eve.

“Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” (Nicholson explains): All About Eve is hit-the-brakes fantastic, a movie so good that you shouldn’t watch anything else until you cue it on Netflix. For film fans who are just starting to get into the classic Hollywood canon, or have heard that Davis is one of the best actresses this city ever had, this is where to start.

Davis plays Margo Channing, a theater star as big and frightening on Broadway as she herself was in pictures. She’s got mean quips and big moments — the infamous, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” But she’s also vulnerable, loving, and calculatedly restrained. In her first scene at an awards banquet for an ingenue she despises, Davis channels her disdain just by blinking. And if you’re a Gone Girl fan, listen to Anne Baxter’s scheming Eve Harrington — you can hear where Rosamund Pike borrowed her numbed line readings.
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Vince Mancini chooses Seconds.

“What kind of man is he? There’s grace in the line and color, but it doesn’t emerge pure.” (Mancini explains): I first saw Seconds in college, in a film class taught by Jean-Pierre Gorin, a guy who used to work with Godard in the ’70s. But at the time, I knew him only as “JP,” an insane Frenchman who’d waltz into class late, chugging a massive latte, who would openly ogle students and was given to pronouncements like “Sir, you are a cretin, you are nevair alload to speak een my class again,” and “Teacheeng eez not about being bored, or boring, eez about the the grand clowning act of child molestation.” Needless to say, I loved that man. I didn’t share his tastes on all films, but one he showed that always stuck with me was Seconds.

The easiest way to describe Seconds is that it’s like American Beauty meets The Matrix, but better than both. It’s a trippy sci-fi film about something so grounded — suburban ennui. If you think about it in terms of its historical context (it came out in 1966), it’s one of the best expressions of the existential angst that American life produced in the ’50s and early ’60s. America in the ’50s was the most comparatively wealthy country in the history of the world. You could earn enough to have more than you ever even knew you wanted, just from working at a factory. People were prospering beyond their wildest dreams, yet a lot of them looked around and thought, “All that striving … for this? Twin beds, a fancy washer/dryer, and bridge on the weekends?”
Read the rest.

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