A miscellany of movie recommendations from the Magazineʼs editors.
Among the highlights of this cinema-centric issue of the Magazine is “Faculty Faves,” where we put four professors on the spot to share their personal movie recommendations. I enjoyed the results so much, I put the editors of the Magazine on that same spot.
Her favorite film(s), says senior editor Mary Ruth Yoe, are documentaries. “I’ll never sing backup for rock stars but I can rewatch 20 Feet from Stardom (2013). The late-life documentaries by New Wave pioneer Agnès Varda—a favorite is Faces Places (2017)—show France through a lens both individual and universal. I also love two documentaries from 1968: Frederick Wiseman’s High School puts me back in gym class and a baggy blue uniform, while Inquiring Nuns has UChicago roots. An early film by Kartemquin cofounders Gordon Quinn, AB’65, and Gerald Temaner, AB’57 (music by Philip Glass, AB’56), it follows two 20-something nuns around Chicago, including a stop outside the Hyde Park Co-op, as they ask strangers one question: ‘Are you happy?’”
Associate editor Susie Allen, AB’09, casts her vote for Alexander Payne’s Election (1999). “Featuring a young Reese Witherspoon at her Witherspooniest,” Susie enthuses, “the film gave us the (still debated, frequently misunderstood) character of Tracy Flick and the greatest student council speech of all time. I have never hated Matthew Broderick more, but in a good way.”
For alumni news editor Andrew Peart, AM’16, PhD’18, “the advantage to having a favorite film that’s under 20 minutes is that you can easily rewatch it.” His choice, he says, “still packs a wallop. The experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) made a big impression on me at a formative age. My local library had a Maya Deren compilation DVD, and though I probably didn’t understand it then, her take on surrealism gave me a lasting appreciation for all things avant-garde.”
Rhonda L. Smith, the Magazine’s managing editor, declined to select a title. Here’s why: “I love movies, but I don’t really have a favorite. I’m just as likely to go to a film noir double feature as to the latest Disney animation blockbuster. I don’t like all genres (I’ve never been to the theater for a single movie from the Star Wars franchise), but I’m usually game for an afternoon or evening at the movies—especially at the Music Box Theatre. I find there’s something magical about sitting in the dark watching the big screen with some Red Vines.”
As for me? It’s hard to narrow the field, but one I keep going back to—and can recite to you practically by heart—is Steven Soderbergh’s 1998 flick Out of Sight. I love that its pivotal scene casts Detroit, my much-maligned birthplace, in a romantic light, and the Elmore Leonard source material ensures that the dialogue snaps and crackles.
Happy viewing—and reading.