This week’s movies: May 11-18

North by Northwest

Netflix Summary: What if everyone around you was suddenly convinced that you were a spy? This classic from master director Alfred Hitchcock stars Cary Grant as an advertising executive who looks a little too much like someone else and is forced to go on the lam (helped along by Eva Marie Saint). Hitchcock’s sure-handed comic drama pits Grant against a crop duster and lands him in a fight for his life on Mount Rushmore — a true cliffhanger if ever there was one.

★★★★ Watch this movie if for no other reason than to see Cary Grant act insanely drunk. Or to watch people fist fight on Mount Rushmore. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and agree with its place in the AFI top 100, along with basically every other Hitchcock movie.

Pillow Talk

Netflix Summary: Womanizing songwriter Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) spends hours on the phone wooing his many women. Problem is, he shares a party line with prim interior decorator Jan Morrow (Doris Day), who’s miffed because she can’t get any calls. Then Brad gets a gander at Jan — and it’s lust at first sight. Realizing he’s a goner if Jan learns his true identity, Brad concocts a Texas persona to seduce her. When the truth comes out, there’s hell to pay.

★★★★ Knowing the historical context of the women’s movement and the censorship rules, makes this movie seem brilliant. A good representation of the cultural segue from the 1950s to the 1960s.

Your Highness

Netflix Summary: When a twisted wizard kidnaps the virginal fiancée of a valiant prince, his ne’er-do-well brother grudgingly joins his sibling on a quest to rescue the beautiful damsel. Along the way, the duo meets their match in a fetching female warrior.

★★ It’s not so much that I didn’t like it. It’s just that I’ve come to expect good comedy from this crowd and this movie just didn’t meet those expectations. 

This week’s movies: April 27-May 2

Batteries Not Included

Netflix Summary: After their apartment building is bought by an unscrupulous developer, Frank and Faye Riley (real-life couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy) face eviction. But the poor retirees receive help from an unlikely source: a clan of tiny robotic aliens.

★★★ One of my favorite quotes from this movie is when the girlfriend of one of the main characters storms out of his apartment and yells “This is the 80s Mason, nobody likes reality anymore!” And indeed fans of reality will not enjoy this movie, which is about magical robots that want to fix everyone’s problems. I watched it as a kid though so there is a warm spot in my heart for the kind of cheese in this movie. Definitely no E.T., but Spielberg manages to make aliens heartwarming again.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Netflix Summary: To celebrate Valentine’s Day, teachers at a boarding school take a group of students on an outing to the mysterious Hanging Rock. Soon after their arrival, the headmistress and three girls go exploring and mysteriously disappear.

★★★★ Very much the Australian version of A Passage to India, in my opinion. The idea of the void consuming people. Like most famous Australian movies, it’s a bit of a downer, but worth it.

Stand By Me

Netflix Summary: Four boys seek adventure and heroism in the Oregon woods with their search for a missing teen’s dead body in the 1950s. What they uncover about themselves along the way, however, means even more.

★★★ I assume my rating for this movie would be much higher if I’d grown up with it. It does pretty well as far as coming-of-age movies go. Reminded me of The Sandlot. A much much darker version of The Sandlot.

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

Netflix Summary: Trace the fascinating lives of New Zealand’s provocative music and comedy duo Jools and Linda Topp through this enjoyable documentary, which details the lesbian twins’ rural upbringing, political activism and immense popularity at home and abroad. Featuring hilarious interviews with several of the sisters’ most outrageous alter egos, this joyous celebration also includes brilliant insights into New Zealand’s history.

★★★ I’ve never heard of the Topp Twins but I stumbled across this movie in a search for New Zealand films prior to a trip to New Zealand and Australia (also why I watched Picnic at Hanging Rock). I always love a good documentary and the Topp Twins does not fail.