Nightcap Movies // You're going to watch this alone, as a reward for the hard studying or as a treat to ease you down from a night of lechery and debauchery. It's the visual equivalent of a glass of warm milk or a swig of bourbon, to balance your emotions and perspectivize where you're currently at. While it might be comforting to cling to your favorite serial rewatch (The Breakfast Club, Old School, The Goonies), try something new with the perfect mix of melancholia and bubbliness to push you deeper into the safety of your thoughts and feels.
Frances Ha Mumblecore's crowning gem will bite you with its depiction of a woman adrift and then nuzzle you with Frances' unfailing tenacity. The film's Brooklynites, hopping from job to job and sublease to sublease, live the life of college students even as they push 30, an image scarier than any horror film to a senior who just wants to be gainfully employed. But our heroine is fearless and flawed, brimming with make-do and an infectious hope that's transferred to the viewer as soon as the credits roll. She makes you want to just get up and fight, and her story will leave you smiling with a quiet positivity that makes the best of slumbers.
Do the Right Thing Even though its themes of community empowerment and police brutality are particularly timely, at its heart, Do the Right Thing will win you over with its honesty about the course of personal growth. Spike Lee plays Mookie, a boy trying to figure out how to balance workplace racial tension with his ability to provide for a family he started much too early. His is the perfect college dilemma, getting by and finding fun in the face of violently pressing concerns. Just like Frances, Mookie finds the middle way in a time of confusing morality. Calling it the pre-bedtime consolation would be an understatement.
Pregame Movies // It's that weird limbo time when you've gotten out of classes and started imbibing with your friends, but it's nowhere near time to head out to the parties. Shit seems to start later and later each weekend, and you can only get ready three hours in advance so many times. This is the sacred time of bonding with your hallmates or housemates, of easy spirits and calming nerves. You want a reverse nightcap, some jungle juice to get things poppin'.
Trainspotting If you thought this movie about drug addicts would be too harsh for a group-watch before heading to the function, you were wrong. Trainspotting is colorful, funny, and has one of the best soundtracks to ever grace cineplex speakers. It follows Renton's path to independence from substance and crime, with the characters, action, and melodrama of a perfectly executed after-school special. His journey through squalor even peaks in a happy ending that will leave you and your fellow winos ready to kick in some doors.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre Slant called it the greatest horror film of all time and I'm not one to necessarily disagree. Besides being in the holy canon, it's a prime whitesploitation slasher film that'll make you fear rural Texas and your beloved barbecue. A short, well-executed flick, this 1974 gem will really get the adrenaline flowing for a night of bad decisions, and make you walk a little more quickly when you're returning to your apartment in the dark. There's nothing better to watch in a group than 1970s horror. No other genre period is so ripe with terror and opportunities for ridicule. Spike some soda and watch it on the biggest screen you can find, and it won't feel like you're killing time at all.
When Someone Finally Accepts Your Invitation to Netflix and Chill // I hate the term as much as anyone, but it does convey a universal conceptual sentiment so rare these days. A true N&C film can be an icebreaker, a conversational lubricant, a bridge to intimacy, or simply something that inspires mutual enjoyment. But the romantic output is only as strong as the film itself, and the work it does in vacuuming the nerves and awkwardness from the room. Films with bold themes and content that are comfortable in their extremity make the best conversation without icing the mood, precisely what you’re looking for.
Boogie Nights You might not get through the two and a half hours of the film before you or your companion get antsy or sleepy — Paul Thomas Anderson’s sexiest work moves through expanses of time and situational drama so easily that it’s ripe with opportunities for pausing and resuming. Imagine the temporal segmentation of Boyhood but trade in an endowed young man growing into the pornography industry in its golden days. It’s got a bangin’ soundtrack, gratuitous sex, disco-drenched cinematography, and a melodramatic facade that does well to paint over some of the darker undercurrents with humor and mirth. Even if your movie date reaches the slow decline of Dirk Diggler and Amber Waves, you can pretend that Boogie Nights is attempting black comedy and be happy that you didn’t try to watch There Will Be Blood.
The Evil Dead While its slightly more played-out and humorous sequel is ideal horror-comedy fun, the original Evil Dead (1981) is less tiring in its self-consciousness, content to be a movie where the college kids on a weekend getaway can die senselessly. The camera work in the opening sequence is sufficiently unsettling, but the ensuing 80 minutes are more entertaining than frightening, as a Netflix and Chill flick should be. The gore is dated enough to transcend gross-out, moving into campy territory but still intent on inspiring terror. It’ll get the two of you curled up and provide the opportunity for someone to play tough guy when you get to the basement scene. Just make sure you’ve seen it beforehand.
When You Get Dumped / Crippling Loneliness Is Encroaching / Academic Probation Seems Too Probable // College seems to have more downs than it should, but maybe it’s just in relation to the extreme highs. Sometimes everything comes crashing down at once, and goddamn right you want to wallow it. The years of teenage angst are finite, and should not be wasted in eternal search of media that will cheer you up. You need movies that validate your pity, that turn you a darker shade of blue, that push you to near crying. It’s the only way to truly get your sad sack of a self out of bed, and movies with a sense of hopelessness only help to accelerate the healing process.
Y Tu Mamá También It’s a road movie, and everything in it relates back to sex. Y Tu Mamá También follows two best friends and their trip across the Mexican countryside with an older woman, as they search for the perfect beach. It’s a coming-of-age story, but not of positive realizations. The movie’s pain seems to come from its surprising sadness. The journey isn’t one of healing or revelation, but one of change and division. Luisa brings things to the surface in Julio and Tenoch’s relationship and forces a maturity on them they were never prepared for, with an ending that punches you with more sadness than you could ever hope for and without the shock tactic of death or disloyalty.
Welcome to the Dollhouse If you’re into schadenfreude, you might find yourself laughing but you’ll probably feel bad afterwards. Todd Solondz’s ‘90s classic Welcome to the Dollhouse is about a suburban middle-schooler named Dawn Wiener and her search for allies. She’s at the crest of her awkward period, looking for love in the entirely wrong locales. The movie is unrelentingly cruel in its treatment of “Wiener-dog” that you start to question her immense capacity to endure unpleasantness. And it leaves you wondering if she ever finds a silver lining. If anything, there’s comfort in knowing that you could have it so much worse and that you’ve escaped the hell that is the junior high lunchroom.
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