Thursday, 7 May 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Work Place movies

Work Places Films

 The weekly post is brought to you by Wandering Through the Shelves blog. When I saw this was the theme for this week's picks I thought 'YES' as I thought I knew (and liked) quite a few films based in the 'work place'. Turns out most of them were newspaper related like, The Paper (which I picked), His Girl Friday, The Front Page (I know its the same story), The Sweet Smell of Success, The Fifth Estate... but I wanted to have a variety of films and work places. Then I wondered what actually counts as a work place. Does The Prestige (2003) count? It's magicians and illusionists working at their place of work, theaters. Anyway, here are my picks and all three seem to have a favourite actor (Michael Keaton, Tim Robbins, John Cusack) of mine feature.

The Paper

As hectic and stressful as the office of The New York Sun is, a part of me really wants to work there. Apart from the fact that Glen Close is the sort of boss, it has a host of great characters all with their own stories and problems. Emphasising just how crazy it is in a newsroom, the film is set over one day. Personal lives are also brought up, as they do in any work place, such as death threats, promotions, pregnancies and a special chair being delivered. Michael Keaton, as the centre point of the film, is just great as brilliant but dramatic workaholic editor who's wife and fellow journalist, Martha (Marissa Tomei) is literally about to give birth. The team are also in the verge of cracking a case where two innocent black teenagers are accused of murdering two white guys they found in their neighbourhood. It all hinges on a headline that can either make or break careers and lives. It's that dramatic and damn cool. Randy Quaid is a definite highlight as a columnist threatened by someone he bad mouthed in his writing.

The Hudsucker Proxy

The Coen Brothers are my favourite directors and this film is severely under appreciated. The Coens are great at genre twisting ( I wrote a whole dissertation about it and them) and this was won of their stronger ones, both a homage to screwball 1930's comedies and melodramatic look at the state of rags to riches, breaking the fourth wall and literally stopping time mid story, divine intervention. Tim Robbins, another actor I can't get enough of, is perfect as the naive optimistic Norville who is used by the executives of Hudsucker Industries to drive the stock shares down so they can take over the company. But Norville actually makes the company successful, especially in the wake of Hudsucker himself, jumping off a building. Jennifer Jason Leigh is beyond brilliant as fast talking Amy Archer, award winning journalist who tries to dig up a news story about Norville. All the quirks of the genre are in there and the film is actually set across two work places, the newspaper and Hudsucker. A great film and as he says 'you know, for kids' is a classic line, pretty much sums up Norville's inner child.
High Fidelity

A record shop is a work place. To be honest, I was torn between High Fidelity and Empire Records but the latter would be in a different list. Despite the unpleasantness of Barry (Jack Black) and the blandness of Dick (Todd Louiso), Championship Vinyl, run by musical enthusiast, negative being Rob (John Cusack) who has recently broken up with his long term girlfriend, seems like a cool place to be. At first the store seems to be relatively empty most of the time except maybe on the weekends when it full with people asking for all kinds of records. The film is about Rob going through his 'top 5 breakups' through flashbacks while trying to piece together his relationship with his ex-girlfriend. It all centres around music and the store becomes a hub where some of the funniest scenes take place. The memorable scene where Tim Robbins plays a pretty darn awful guys with dreadlocks visits the store and Rob plays out the different scenarios in his head. The three guys who work at the store are all music snobs. I used to think that all record stores were like this, small comic book stores too, but this was way before I got into comics.


  1. I remember seeing The Hudsucker Proxy in one of my high school film classes. My teacher was helping us learn about directors in preparation for the ISU (which required us to create a presentation profiling a director of our choice), and he chose that along with The Big Lebowski and Fargo so that we could start identifying patterns in Coen Brothers' films, and there are quite a few. For one thing, nearly all their movies have basically the same plot: someone tries to plan a crime, something goes wrong, and then everything spirals out of control. I do recall The Hudsucker Proxy being a pretty amusing film, if a bit weird at times.

  2. That is pretty spot on, but even though its the same, the stories do change. Different characters, locations, times. Hudsucker is weird, especially near the end when Hudsucker comes back briefly. But it's great homage to the screwball comedies.

  3. Great choices especially since I haven't seen them on any of the other list. Hudsucker is very inventive, the two leads aren't favorites of mine but Robbins was quite good in it, JJL not as much, I thought she gave too much of a "performance" rather than trying to adapt to the film's rhythm but overall the film should be better remembered. Since Empire Records showed up on at least one other list I'm glad you decided to go with High Fidelity, it's a fun kind of off the wall film. My favorite of your picks is The Paper, I think it's underappreciated-it didn't do that well at the box office on initial release, it wasn't a flop but neither was it a blockbuster and I think that might have something to do with it not being as well remembered today. I haven't seen it in years but I recall it had the deadline tension of a newspaper down plus that terrific cast.

  4. I think John Cusack tipped the choice to High Fidelity but I really love Empire Records, keep meaning to go to The Rex Manning Day at the Prince Charles Cinema. You're right it, The Paper has been kinda pushed to the side. I saw it for the first time by accident on TV and got hooked. I found out later it was a Ron Howard film. I recommend you seek it out, I'm sure you'll enjoy it again.

  5. Haha...I was torn between High Fidelity and Empire Records too. Chose the latter because the store was (if I remember correctly) pretty much the only location in the movie.

  6. It does, and you know, the film might make a great play .... one location, lots of drama, interesting characters, classic (now) period piece.