Madcap Fun and Other Zaniness


King of Hearts (1967): A charming and offbeat film about a Scottish soldier who wanders into a French town in WW1 that has been abandoned by everyone except the folks in the insane asylum.

Barbarella (with Jane Fonda) (1968): Sexy campy madness in the far future! Completely over-the-top.

Buster Keaton’s Scarecrow, Playhouse, and Electric House: Some of my favorites among the many Keaton films I have been watching. I’m vague on what Scarecrow and Playhouse were about (hey, it’s been awhile and I’ve seen like 15 Keaton shorts in the past 8 months!), but Electric House starred a totally zany automated house. The General is also very good, and a more fully realized story. Most all Keaton films feature amusing, sentimental, romantic storylines and the best feature jump out of your seats exciting stunts. To me, Jackie Chan is a combination of silent films stars Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Of course, those stars weren’t just doing action films, but Chaplin kicks a lot of ass in his movies (truly — check it out!) and Keaton does wild stunts and has Chan’s friendly disposition (he’s a total romantic). I think Keaton rules over Chaplin, although Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) showed me his sweet side (many of his earliest films are drunken and violent, though comic). A possibly useful modern reference point is the fact that Johnny Depp played a Keaton-Chaplin wanna-be in Benny & Joon.

Jour de Fête (by Jacques Tati) (1948): A French Keaton or Chaplin, lanky Tati is a supreme physical actor. In this film, he plays a bicycle postman in the French countryside. During a local festival, the villagers see a film depicting an ultra-efficient American postal system – including even parachuting postal workers. The villagers give Tati’s postman a hard time, and he decides to show them all just how quickly he can distribute the mail. Hilarity ensues.

Zazie Dans Le Metro (by Louis Malle) (1962): Little Zazie comes to Paris and stays with her uncle, who performs at a drag club and has a sweet Stepford wife (i.e. is robotically servient). Zazie is chased around by an undercover cop, who also develops a crush on the uncle’s wife. Other characters include Scandanavian tourists who get a crush on the uncle, a weirdo shoe repairman, and a Parrot who swears as much as Zazie. This movie is absolute chaos and unbridled fun.

Johnny Suede (with Brad Pitt) (1992): A weird little movie starring a young Pitt playing a low to no talent, image obsessed wanna be rocker. Very original.

Pecker (by John Waters) (1998): Waters’ hilarious recent film about a young, down-to-earth Baltimore photographer who becomes the newest big thing in the NYC art circles.

The Dinner Game (1999): A fun French old-style dialogue-driven comedy with good acting and wacky situations. By the writer/director of La Cage Aux Folles.

You Can Thank Me Later (1999): A zany Canadian film about a dysfunctional family that gathers at the father’s hospital bedside. Entertaining.

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