Sarah Jane has seen over 5,000 films. Her goal for 2017 is to watch 500+ movies. She hails from Southern California. She has spent time in England and Austin, TX. She now resides somewhere in the Southwest. She writes the Overlooked and Underseen column for TalkFilmSociety.com. She also occasionally gives her recommendations on the Splathouse Podcast. You can find her at @fookthis on Twitter and at letterboxd.com/fookthis.
The Year My Voice Broke – Directed by John Duigan
The first of two (though it was supposed to be three) films focusing on the story of Danny (Noah Taylor), a teenager growing up in the Australia in the 60s. It’s the coming of age story about Danny falling in love for the first time with Freya (Loene Carmen). Naturally, she’s in love with Trevor (played by the awesome Ben Mendelsohn). It’s touching and, at times, painful to watch but well worth it for the great performances from everyone. If you like this one, check out the continuing adventures of Danny in Flirting (1991). That one stars the very young Thandie Newton, Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts.
Hollywood Shuffle – Directed by Robert Townsend
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen this movie. It must be at least 50. It just so fucking funny. Don’t let all the laughs fool you, though, Townsend has a message about racial stereotyping that was as true back then as it is today. Special shout out to John Witherspoon as Townsend’s boss at Winkie Dinkie Dog. This movie is a treasure and you owe it to yourself to see it.
Some Kind of Wonderful – Directed by Howard Deutch
Oh, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), how I related to you. You were cool, you played drums, and you didn’t really give a shit what people thought about you except that one guy, Keith (Eric Stoltz), your best friend. He was the only thing that mattered. This was pretty much the story of my life in high school and I’m sure I’m not alone. John Hughes was the king of the 80s teen flick and everyone had their favorite. Some liked Pretty in Pink, others went for The Breakfast Club or Weird Science (RIP Paxton). Not me, though. Some Kind of Wonderful just spoke to me in a way the others did not. I know Hughes didn’t direct this one but he might has well have. This one also has a good soundtrack, too.
Hope and Glory – Directed by John Boorman
The anglophile in is always ready to watch a movie about Britain during World War II. My mum is English and was born right around that time so it’s always held a fascination for me. The film was also written by Boorman, who wrote about his own experiences growing up during the war. We experience everything through the eyes of a 10 year old boy. There’s a lot of humor here but it doesn’t shy away from the horror of living through the Blitz. Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun also came out in 87 so Hope and Glory kinda got lost in that shuffle of British kids having to deal in World War II. I almost had Empire on this list but I think enough people know about that one. Really, you should watch both.
Stage Fright – Michele Soavi
Soavi’s Stage Fright is one of my favorite slasher movies. That it’s Italian just adds to its greatness. Nearly all of it takes place within a theatre and, according to my husband who used to be a stage manager, the film actually manages to get what it is like working and rehersing in theatre. The real reason I love it so much is the choice of the killer’s mask; a gigantic owl head that is actually terrifying. This one doesn’t spare any gore so if you’re bothered by that, be warned. You should still watch it anyway, though. Soavi steals so much from Dario Argento but that’s okay. He learned everything he knows by working with the master. If you’re a John Morghen (AKA Giovanni Lombardo Radice), you’re in luck because he’s on full display here.