I love quirky movies.
The majority of these kinds of films, while also admired by many others, are often shrugged off by an equal number (or more) of my family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances. Most of them have a) never heard of these movies or b) think they’re weird. Now I’m no movie critic but I know what I like. When a film employs symbolism or unusual characters or creative cinematic devices to tell the story – and throw in clever dialog, double entendre and twists and turns in a thrilling plot with a powerful musical score (and dancing!) – or anything, ANYTHING that’s unexpected, well, I’m hooked.
Here is a list, in no particular order, of the films that most readily come to mind:
- Harold & Maude
- All That Jazz
- Bambi Meets Godzilla
- Blood Simple
- Rocky Horror Picture Show
- I Am Legend
- Pulp Fiction
- Oh Brother Where Art Thou
- Moonrise Kingdom
- The Cabin in the Woods
- Pink Floyd The Wall
- Wild at Heart
- Out to Pasture (a 2007, Brickstreet Theatre and My Town Pictures Original Film *)
Probably the earliest discovery that my genetic makeup included a preference for what I’ll call the quirky genre of films is a movie that I simply devoured, watching again and again. I also recall discussing this film at work where my boss just shook his head, incredulous that anyone would even like this movie let alone pay good money to see it more than once. It was directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse and essentially outlines his life story by way of the Joe Gideon character brilliantly played by Roy Scheider. I am, of course, referring to All That Jazz (1979) which won four Oscars and received several other wins and nominations. I was spellbound by this film!
Mention Roy Scheider and there are the usual references to his role as Police Chief Brody in Jaws but for me he’ll forever be the womanizing but sexy, talented but driven, ambitious but unprincipled Joe Gideon. From the opening number ‘On Broadway’ to the dazzling ‘Bye Bye Love’ finale I was in awe of this film, the story, the characters, and the (amazingly creative!) dance numbers used to convey the numerous ways Joe Gideon had screwed up his life and those who cared about him. Even though I’ve seen this movie at least a dozen times I still tear up at the end. An utterly fantastic film.
Another very quirky film that I saw not long afterward is the cult classic Harold and Maude (1971), an unlikely love story that is both hilarious and touching with Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon. The short (very short!) animated film Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969) elicited both a shriek of surprise and a smile followed by stunned silence. My young son and I, with somewhat similar tastes in movies to this very day, thoroughly enjoyed this strangely sweet piece of cinema the very first time we saw it.
The Coen Brothers are well-known for many delightfully clever films but I knew these guys were special years ago when I saw Blood Simple (1984). This dark thriller delivered so many plot twists and memorable characters that I knew I was witnessing something special the first time I saw it. I recall watching it while I waited for a ne’er do well boyfriend who stood me up that night. That relationship didn’t last long but my love affair with almost everything the Coen Brothers deliver has remained strong.
The 2007 film I Am Legend wasn’t something I was intending to see. However, I had just read the book and therefore decided to see it after all especially after hearing my brother-in-law describe some family members who’d seen it and were disgusted but he thought since he knew I liked ‘quirky movies’ that it was something I’d probably enjoy. Prior to that I’d never considered that other people might describe my taste in films as ‘quirky’ but he had me pegged. Guilty as charged!
Recent additions to my list of favorites include Melancholia (2011) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012). The first is quite dark but interesting and well-acted. Moonrise Kingdom is truly, TRULY quirky and an absolute delight! I loved this film.
As promised I want to give a special shout-out to a (very!) little known film, locally produced and acted by my alma mater Brickstreet Theatre in Forest City, Iowa. Out to Pasture (2007) is different, funny, unique and decidedly quirky. But what gives it extra meaning for me is that some of it was filmed on my parent’s property. Years ago Mom and Dad bought the land across the road from my childhood home where my dad built a new sawmill. On the property he and my mother planted hundreds of trees and dug out a small pond. Out to Pasture was filmed there after my dad died in 2007 and I have a copy of it on DVD. My sisters, on viewing it, were not impressed. They thought it was ‘stupid’. Perhaps some of it could have been better done but this wasn’t some flashy Hollywood production. It was done locally and I personally knew some of the people involved with the film. Kudos to them for their efforts! In any case I thought it was hilarious and I thought it was FUN.
Just like any good quirky film, it delivered. For me that’s all that matters.