Hamish Downie has a new type of column that started backing December as his Holiday playlist. It was so popular that he decided to make it a monthly recurring column with a movie playlist for each month. Thanks, Hamish, for creating a new concept for TG Geeks.
If you have seen any of these films, let us know your thoughts.
This month’s selection is self-referential films by Great Directors. It is usually, but not always, their swan song. First up:
THE APARTMENT (1960)
Billy Wilder’s Best Picture Oscar-winning film is quite a ride. Years before the supposed “best romantic comedy” WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, THE APARTMENT combines comedy, romance, tragedy, and genuine drama and pathos into the heart of a very adult story. I don’t mean it in the way it means today. What I mean is that this is a film that wasn’t made for kids. I tried watching it as a kid and couldn’t understand the appeal at all. But, in my 40s, with a dead-end job, I completely understand this film and the small happiness it offers to its cynical world.
The references are mostly blink and you’ll miss them, such as a neighbour calling Jake Lemon’s life a kind of “Lost Weekend” (which was one of Billy Wilder’s early films). Jake Lemon turns on the TV and tries to watch “Grand Hotel” as he eats dinner. Grand Hotel, of course, stars Greta Garbo, who starred in one of Wilder’s screenplays, NINOTCHKA. There is a Marilyn Monroe lookalike character, in obvious reference to his most famous collaborations with her – The Seven Year Itch and Some Like it Hot. Of course, we have Jake Lemon from Some Like it Hot, and Fred McMurray from Double Indemnity (the film is even set in an Insurance Company). While this wasn’t his swan song, it was definitely the end to his run of classic film after classic film.
EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)
The first time I watched Stanley Kuberick’s EYES WIDE SHUT, I hated it – especially the one piano note score. But, having gotten older and understanding what being in a long-term relationship can be like, rewatching it showed me a very powerful film.
As the comments on the trailer say, it is haunting, scary, and one of the most honest relationship films ever made.
The main references are in the scene at the costume shop. The black carpet that mimics the obelisk in 2001, as well as Dave’s Spacesuit. Other costumes include an 18th Century Men’s Suit (BARRY LYNDON), a Napoleon (from the abandoned film), and the Leelee Sobieski character is a reference to LOLITA, and her unshaven father in his dressing gown is definitely a reference to THE SHINING.
SWINGING SAFARI (2018)
Why do so many of these films also seem to involve cheating spouses? Are these Directors trying to say something?
I’ve recommended Stephan Elliott’s semi-autobiographical nostalgia trip before, but this is a wonderful trip down memory lane for cinema buffs and kids from 1970s Australia.
This doesn’t include so many references to Stephan Elliott’s previous films, but it does include two main ones. Kylie Minogue does feed her dog “Woof Woof,” which was the dog food the townsfolk made in his film, “Welcome to Woop Woop,” and Guy Pearce is on hand to remind us of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”
What are some of your favourite self-referential films? Why not comment below?
Before you go, I made a tribute to America’s first family of Cinema, “The Barrymores: Golden Age Dynasty” please check it out.
Also, please keep Keith Lane in your thoughts and prayers as he recovers.