Every month A Place for Film will bring you a selection of films from our group of regular bloggers. Even though these films aren’t currently being screened at the IU Cinema, this series will reflect the varied programming that can be found at the Cinema, as well as demonstrate the eclectic tastes of the bloggers. Each contributor has picked one film that they saw this month that they couldn’t wait to share with others. Keep reading to find out what discoveries these cinephiles have made, as well as some of the old friends they’ve revisited.
Michaela Owens, editor | Neptune’s Daughter (1949)
Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams were an underrated, lovely screen team whose three collaborations boasted joyful absurdity, sweet romance, and cheerful optimism. Neptune’s Daughter is their best and brightest film. Williams plays a swimsuit designer whose daffy sister (Betty Garrett) announces her intention to chase after Montalban, the captain of a South American polo team that is in town for a big match. Unbeknownst to the sisters, Garrett has actually fallen for Red Skelton, the polo club’s klutzy masseur. Meanwhile, Williams meets with Montalban to tell him to stay away from Garrett. Bewitched by Williams, he plays along and says he will break things off only if she agrees to a date. I bet you can’t guess how this one will end.
The first time I saw Neptune’s Daughter, I had just discovered Williams’s work and everything about the film felt magical. I remember being mesmerized by Montalban’s crooning of “My Heart Beats Faster” as he slowly draws Williams into a dance, her glittering dress twirling in the moonlight. Of course, the most famous thing about this movie is Frank Loesser’s Oscar-winning song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The way the film presents the tune is perfect. Montalban tries his hardest to seduce Williams, who is wise to his ways and manages to hold her own. Skelton, however, can’t say the same. Over at his place, Garrett sings the more aggressive lines while he struggles to keep her at arm’s length. You can watch the fun here.
Jesse Pasternack, contributor | Deadpool 2 (2018)
I love movies from older decades, such as His Girl Friday or Sweet Smell of Success. I also love movies from other countries, such as Ozu’s Good Morning or the films of Robert Bresson. But every now and again I watch something new and American, so last night I saw Deadpool 2. Ryan Reynolds is still very funny and Zazie Beetz is a scene-stealing delight as Domino, but the jokes aren’t as fresh as they were the first time. At the very least, let’s hope this movie leads to a spin-off centered on Domino.
Warning: trailer contains strong language and violence.
Nathaniel Sexton, contributor | Mermaids (1990)
Cher, Winona Ryder, and Christina Ricci are godsent to make us happier and better people. Maybe my favorite sort of period piece (the ’80s or ’90s does ’50s or ’60s), Mermaids recalls American greats like Bill Forsyth’s Housekeeping (1987), John Sayles’s Baby It’s You (1983), Philip Kaufman’s The Wanderers (1979) or even Barry Levinson’s Diner (1982). A great soundtrack, spectacular costuming, and unbelievable performances between Cher and goth queen Winona Ryder handsomely round out this convincingly moving, very funny mother-daughter tale of growing up, faith, sex, and sexuality, trust, and family. Two scenes alone make this a forever masterwork: one involves Christina Ricci wearing a pumpkin on her head; the other involves “The Shoop Shoop Song” and all three leads dancing together so joyfully that it will send your heart soaring.
David Carter, contributor | Marie Antoinette (2006)
We recently had Noni Ford as a special guest on the IU Cinema podcast and her chosen topic of discussion were the films of Sofia Coppola. I was familiar with Sofia’s films prior to this episode but not all of them. I had pretty much only seen her short film Lick the Star, Lost in Translation, and The Beguiled. Everything else I had either heard referenced or seen trailers and clips from. So I decided to do my homework and fill in all but one gap (Somewhere) in my holes of her filmography.
While I think The Virgin Suicides might objectively be her best film (don’t “@” me) it was delightful to discover Marie Antoinette, my favorite of her films. The movies stars Kirsten Dunst as the young, ill-fated and infamous French queen. However, instead of making a film about the popular perception of the figure, Sofia decides to dive into her interiority and figure out how a girl and young woman would handle the pressures of the aristocracy and giving birth to a future prince. The movie also delves into anachronism by having bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees play over a party scene that looks closer to a college dorm party than royalty. Or have a pair of Chuck Taylors pop up in a dress-up/shopping montage set to the song “I Want Candy.”
This is all done in service of making a movie about a teenage girl who is watched and monitored but never “seen.” It also doesn’t hurt that this cast is beyond great (Rip Torn, Asia Argento, Molly Shannon, Jason Schwartzman just to name a handful) and the movie was actually filmed in Versailles. This movie was met with mixed reactions and reviews when it came out in 2006 but to me it’s the most fun and thematically pointed of all her films. You can check this out on Netflix streaming right now.