Sam Chammas, owner, The Whistle Stop, whistlestopbar.com
The U.S. vs. John Lennon: Some may say they know enough about John Lennon already through his songs, but this documentary will blow you away with how much you’ll learn about the U.S. civil rights movement, Vietnam, the Nixon administration, lowering of the voting age, plus great songs as well as Lennon, the man. I wish all history lessons were this cool.
Alien: Ridley Scott’s brilliant piece of sci-fi history can be watched over and over. How I would love to disappear for four days with the anthology or single Alien Blu-ray and geek out on every bit of director Scott’s commentary, backstory to scenes, and more. Add this to your to-do list for April because Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is coming in June, which will reveal the prestory to the Alien saga.
- The U.S. vs. John Lennon
- (USA) 2006, Lionsgate
- List price: $14.98
- Alien Anthology (USA/England) 1979, Twentieth Century Fox
- List price: $99.99 (six discs)
Doug Barker, webmaster, The Whistle Stop
Alex Cox’s Repo Man and Straight to Hell are among the most repeat-view worthy films I can think of. Cram-packed with smart comedy, lively cinematography, non sequiturs, and understated slapstick, both serve up new hilarity and charm on each repeat viewing. 1984’s Repo Man uses L.A.’s auto repossession and punk scenes as settings for intrigue and the supernatural regarding a dead alien.
1987’s Straight to Hell is essentially a Western (populated by the likes of Joe Strummer, Elvis Costello, Dennis Hopper, and a screechy Courtney Love), but to my mind, the stories are almost beside the point: the sheer density of multileveled high-grade wit — visual and cerebral — puts to shame any other three or four movies you can think of. Watching each of these movies is like practicing to watch them again.
- Repo Man (USA) 1984, Universal
- List price: $19.98
- Straight to Hell (USA) 1987, Anchor Bay
- List price: $24.95
Heather Erin Long, social-media manager, The Whistle Stop
Tommy is one of the greatest rock and roll movies ever made. Directed by the late, great Ken Russell, it’s beautifully filmed with a brilliant use of symbolism. Full of career defining performances, Ann Margret’s smash-the-mirror scene and Tina Tuner’s Acid Queen make this film worth watching on their own. I promise, you don’t have to like The Who to enjoy this movie.
The Night of the Hunter is often described as a demented fairytale. The only movie ever directed by actor Charles Laughton, it’s one of the most suspenseful movies I’ve ever seen. Robert Mitchum is sinister. From Mitchum’s love/hate knuckle tattoos to children being hunted as they float down the dark river to Lillian Gish in a rocking chair with a shot gun, this movie is chock full of imagery that will stay with you long after the movie’s over. The eerie soundtrack adds to the timeless creepiness of this classic movie.
- Tommy (England) 1975, Sony Pictures
- List price: $14.99
- The Night of the Hunter (USA) 1955, Criterion Collection
- List price: $35.95