The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)
Dir: Penelope Spheeris
Starring: Diedrich Bader, Erika Eleniak, Jim Varney, Cloris Leachman, etc.
This is everything you’d expect upon hearing the phrase “’90s remake of The Beverly Hillbillies.” It’s more than a little bit ridiculous and full of corn, but does have a few very funny moments. Bonus points for the cameos by Dolly Parton and Buddy Ebsen.
The score: 2.5/5
Dir: Charles Biname
Starring: Emily Osment, Kay Panabaker
Oh, ABC Family, you never learn. What wanted to be a serious film that would speak to teens about online bullying and the dangers of the internet became a parody of itself. When your main character’s suicide attempt ends with an overblown(/poorly acted) yell that she can’t get the cap off of the pill bottle, you’ve made a joke of the issue rather than sparking a serious discussion. That being said, with the overacting and general melodramatic mood, this is good for cheesy movie time and should be made fun of with friends.
The score: 1/5
Reel Injun (2009)
Dir: Neil Diamond (Not that Neil Diamond) (with assistance from Catherine Bainbridge and Jeremiah Hayes)
Starring: Adam Beach, Russell Means, etc.
This is a really wonderful documentary that gives a bit of an overview of the depiction of Native Americans in films, from the silent era to modern, Native-produced independent films. Included in the discussion through interviews are actor Adam Beach, actor and activist Russell Means (one of my favorite human beings of all time) and Sacheen Littlefeather, who Marlon Brando famously sent to the Academy Awards in his place in 1973. This is an issue that doesn’t get discussed a lot and I’m glad such a great documentary exists to hopefully open up a dialogue.
The score: 5/5! REQUIRED VIEWING.
The Queen of Versailles (2012)
Dir: Lauren Greenfield
Starring: Jaqueline and David Siegel
I’ve seen a lot of my fellow bloggers talk about this, so I’m sure most of you have seen it before. The film follows a ridiculously wealthy family as they go from piles of money and influence to a “scaled down” lifestyle due to the country’s (and subsequently, the patriarch’s company’s) economic crisis. A title of a review on IMDb says it all: “The filmmaker did not aim to exploit these classless, tasteless billionaires; they took care of that themselves.” They’re completely ridiculous, but fascinating to watch.
The score: 4/5
Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (2004)
Dir: Daniel Anker
Narrated by Gene Hackman
This is a pretty good documentary. It has tons of interesting film clips (My “to watch” list has grown from these) and is a compelling look at Hollywood’s portrayal of World War II and the Holocaust. This would be particularly beneficial viewing for those who haven’t given these film portrayals much thought outside of their entertainment value, but I think any viewer would find it interesting. Bonus points for the film’s praise of Charlie Chaplin and The Great Dictator, and for introducing me to Tomorrow, The World!
The score: 4/5
Marilyn in Manhattan (TV, 1998)
This documentary didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, and I found the narrator’s voice a little bit obnoxious. That being said, there are some really great interviews here (with the likes of Ellen Burstyn, Milton Greene’s wife and son, etc.) that make it worth a watch.
The score: 2.5/5
Following Sean (2005)
Dir: Ralph Arlyck
Narrated by Ralph Arlyck
This is an absolutely fascinating documentary. Ralph Arlyck was living in San Francisco during the good ol’ hippie days of the late 1960s and, as a student, made a film about his pot-smoking 4-year-old neighbor named Sean. Years later, Arlyck returns to California to find out what happened to Sean and his family. This film has no trouble drawing the viewer into the lives of both Arlyck and his subject.
The score: 4/5
A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song (2011)
Dir: Damon Santostefano
Starring: Lucy Hale
It’s cliche, it’s corny, it’s straight-to-DVD…. but it’s the perfect mindless entertainment to be viewed after a long, stressful day or on a rainy day with nothing to do. It isn’t terribly memorable and there are no stand-out, fantastic elements to speak of, but if you love the cheese and enjoyed either of the previous Cinderella Story films (the one with Selena Gomez is 100% a guilty pleasure of mine), you’ll have fun with this.
Corny Cliff Scale score: 3.5/5
I haven’t seen any of these films (and I commend you for braving The Beverly Hillbillies!), but the documentary about how Hollywood portrays WWII and the Holocaust sounds interesting. Somewhat related is a documentary I saw called A Film Unfinished, which looks at a German propaganda film showing captured Jews leading a good life under Nazi ‘care’…then somebody finds the outtakes to the film. Very much worth a look,
I’ll have to check that out! Thanks for the recommendation!