I have watched more movies during the pandemic than I have in probably any three years of my life combined — 107 over the last year. We started out watching old favorites. Comfort-food movies, the kind you’d always stop on while channel-surfing on a rainy Sunday in November. 

That got dull quickly, though, so my wife invented the Coronavirus Film Festival. She’d come up with a few categories: “Disaster,” “Musician in a Non-Musical Role,” “Movie with Clues,” etc. The fam would come up with movies in the categories, write them on slips of paper, throw them into a hat, and pull one when we had a couple hours. 

A few reviews:

Some Like It Hot

So it turns out classics are classics for a reason. This was my pick from the “AFI Top 100” category and it was awesome. I had been worried. Two things stood out: 

1) A movie from 1959 featuring men disguised as women could have aged very, very badly. This one has not. There are no winces in the film that weren’t there in 1959.

2) I had never especially understood the phenomenon of Marilyn Monroe. That is, it turns out, because I had never seen a movie with Marilyn Monroe in it. I get it now. Holy moly. Her presence on the screen is so otherworldly it is as though she was filmed with special effects. She nearly glows in the dark. 

Moonstruck, Major League, Planes Trains & Automobiles

The movie equivalent of pitching a perfect game is “There is not one wasted second in this film. You cannot alter anything without making the movie lesser.” Three of the four examples from the CFF are listed above.

Titanic

This is two movies stapled together: A slightly draggy romance and an amazing disaster movie. I love disaster movies. You could turn the first hour and a half or so into about a 10-minute montage and I would be very happy with it. If I ran across Titanic on TBS while channel-surfing, I would come back right about the time the lookout’s eyes widen.

Gigli

This movie is awful. It is offensive, dumb, incoherent, mean, poorly acted, poorly written, and features zero chemistry between the two leads despite having been made entirely to capitalize on their then-red-hot romance. I am telling you about it because it is awful in the most fabulously mockable way. Buy yourself a couple cookies at a dispensary and fire up Gigli in the company of folks you think are funny. 

Tenet

Times more couple a Tenet see to need probably I to really grasp whatever the heck that was but goodness was it fun to look at.

Point Break

Everything you need to know about Point Break is that Keanu Reeves is an FBI agent on the trail of surfing bank robbers and the case-breaking clue is a butt. 

Godzilla (1998)

Here’s the thing about this amazing and legendary failure: It’s almost a decent kaiju movie. They got the spectacle, they got the barely-there characters, they got the magnitude, they got the laughable coincidences, they got the scientist no one listens to, they got the military doofus. They just totally whiffed on the one single thing you must get right in a Godzilla movie and that is Godzilla himself. The kaiju is not Godzilla in any way at all. If this movie had been described as “giant velociraptor trashes the Big Apple” and they’d called Dino York, it would have been a great popcorn flick. 

Showgirls

Brace yourselves: Of the 107 movies, this is the movie that most exceeded expectations. This movie was ahead of its time. In a post-#MeToo world, Showgirls looks more like a brutal and damning allegory of how Hollywood treats women than the unrealistic overblown campy disaster it was regarded to be when it came out. It was only over-the-top unrealistic until folks knew a lot more about magnates like Harvey Weinstein. Twenty-five years later, it looks a lot more like ruthless satire than high-budget soft-porn. If you doubt this is about how the showbiz machine chews up young women, ask Elizabeth Berkeley, who gives maybe the most fearless performance as an unlikable person I have ever seen in anything and was absolutely slaughtered for it. One wonders how a more established performer would have fared with critics. 

Dirty Dancing

This is the other perfect game. I had, unsurprisingly, never seen Dirty Dancing. This movie taught me how to watch a movie that was not made for me (or anyone I have ever been). You could not more accurately activate the pleasure centers in the youthful female brain without electrically-charged probes and an MRI machine, and maybe not even then. Listen: Baby establishes immediately that she is 18. The rest of the film is devoted to chronicling her journey from 14 to 30 in the space of a summer. She demonstrates and overcomes awkwardness. She learns to dance and she is the best at it. She has an edgy encounter in which she saves the day despite not being directly involved with the situation itself. She argues with her father, eloquently, and he agrees she is correct. She has sex for the first time, and she is confident and skilled. It’s amazing to watch something that is meant to push buttons that are not installed in you.

Alan Brouilette writes a column for our sister publication, the Forest Park Review.

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