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Cut the Cord: Genre Sampler
January 2022. Volume 1, Issue 1.
Welcome to Cut the Cord! This new project, brought to you by the folks at Feature Presentation, stemmed from my recent exasperation with streaming services. We’re all sick of the prices going up, movies and tv shows leaving every month, and the fact that they make it just so hard to quit.
I decided it’s time to Cut the Cord. I think it’s time for you to do the same.
The point of this newsletter will be to show you that there are great movies on streaming services that don’t cost you a dime. Some have ads (Tubi, Peacock Free, Vudu), some need a library card to create an account (Kanopy and Hoopla), but at the end of the day all of them are free. It’s about saving you money and showing you great movies.
Each month’s newsletter will have a theme. For example, next month’s theme is Black Cinema, sent to you in a month where only the same ten movies are ever brought up. I wasn’t sure what theme to do for our first month, so I though we’d do a little bit of everything. We’re kicking off this project with six movies from six different genres. I’m hoping to have more films per month, but I thought we’d start it off light with this first issue.
Before we get going, just a reminder that this project is for you. If you have some ideas on what you’d like to see, email me back or leave a comment on Substack.
Action: Southern Comfort (1981)
A squad of National Guards on an isolated weekend exercise in the Louisiana swamp must fight for their lives when they anger local Cajuns by stealing their canoes. Without live ammunition and in a strange country, their experience begins to mirror the Vietnam experience.
This movie is intense.
The first time I watched it, it made me physically nauseous. It’s both suspenseful and emotionally impactful. Not only does it make you think about the dangers of war, pride, and masculinity, but it also makes you sit on the edge of your seat.
I’ve been on a big kick of director Walter Hill’s movies recently and I’ve learned that he can really do no wrong. He’s at the top of his game here.
Comedy: Gary Gulman - In This Economy?
Comedian Gary Gulman performs at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. Topics include the financial crisis; renting movies; and a conversation between Bill Gates and Donald Trump.
I probably should have chosen a comedy movie here, but also whatever. It’s my newsletter and nothing about this project means every pick needs to be a film.
Gary is one of the best and I think this special is his finest work. I think about the “finding $20 in a coat” bit all the time. I would also like to shoutout one of his Conan appearances. Those are my favorites bits of his.
Rewatching this actually inspired me to buy tickets when he comes to town in a few weeks. This project is saving you money and costing me!
Documentary: The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (2009)
A documentary about the renowned West Virginia outlaw Jesco White and his eccentric backwoods family. In addition to getting in trouble with the law, the Whites, who live deep within Appalachia, uphold a time-honored dancing style, even as they contend with poverty, drugs and other issues. Alternately humorous and sad, the movie is an unflinching look at life on the criminal margins of rural mountain culture.
Don’t hit the ceiling fan with your rifle, kitchen table tattoos, snorting cocaine immediately after giving birth, robbing your family, shooting your family, having sex with your family, brain damage from huffing gasoline, child protective services, matthew 21:22, get er done, coal mining accidents, 50 years for attempted murder and a police shootout, tylor spelled like that, we’re all gonna die...
and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Drama: Boiler Room (2000)
A college dropout gets a job as a broker for a suburban investment firm and is on the fast track to success—but the job might not be as legitimate as it sounds.
Perfect for the finance bro who wants to show his parents The Wolf of Wall Street but couldn’t possibly stomach watching his mom see Leo snort coke out of a hooker’s butthole.
All jokes aside, this movie is actually really good and fifteen years ahead of the Scorsese flick. It also features a top notch Vin Diesel performance. The Fast and Furious movies have taken up so much of his time and persona and we’re left with this and Find Me Guilty as his only normal performances.
Horror: P2 (2007)
Angela, a corporate climber, gets stuck working late on Christmas Eve and finds herself the target of an unhinged security guard. With no help in sight, the woman must overcome physical and psychological challenges to survive.
Christmas may have come and gone, but this holiday-set horror flick can be enjoyed year round. It’s not perfect and can be a bit predictable (which can sometimes be the death of a thriller), but this movie manages to overcome that and still be a fun, creepy time.
Science Fiction: The Fly (1986)
When Seth Brundle makes a huge scientific and technological breakthrough in teleportation, he decides to test it on himself. Unbeknownst to him, a common housefly manages to get inside the device and the two become one.
The Fly is just as much a romance as it is a horror film. Or a science fiction film. You can’t say that about many movies. Sure, plenty of sci-fi films have romantic elements or storylines, but few are equally all genres.
It’s also a grotesque body horror film inside of a mainstream Hollywood picture that grossed over $60 million.
And somehow it’s also equal parts funny and horrifying.
Seth and Ronnie (portrayed by the perfectly cast Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis) meet at a party and fall in love quickly. Their chemistry is so good that you believe their affection right away. It isn’t long until the mixup with the fly DNA happens and Goldblum starts losing himself. His intensity matched with Geena’s longing make the accident all that more tragic.
This film does an excellent job of dementing your emotions: you laugh from being terrified and you cry from exasperation. You feel bad for Goldblum’s character, but you also question his sanity. And don’t even get me started on the decision Davis’ character faces. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, check it out.
Thanks for reading. If you liked this, send it to your friends. There’s more where that came from. See you next month.
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb.