This week's "Movies" topic on The Chris Vernon Show was "Two Guys and a Girl" — films featuring a trio protagonists fitting that gender make-up — based on current box-office champ Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince.
The heavy contingent of foreign and/or old movies at the top of the list didn't seem to please radio listeners, but I stand by it:
1. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001): Alfonso Cuaron's coming-of-age story/women's picture/subtly political Mexican road movie might be the best film of the past decade. Two teen best friends, the privileged Tenoch (Diego Luna) and the middle-class Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) take Luisa (Maribel Verdu), the foxy adult wife of Tenoch's cousin, with them on a road trip to find the Heaven's Mouth beach, which may or may not exist. Cuaron is generous to his teen protagonists while simultaneously exposing how limited and self-absorbed their view of the world is. Shot-by-shot, scene-be-scene, moment-by-moment, it's brilliant.
2. Singin' in the Rain (1952): The all-time classic Hollywood musical, set during the transition from silent film to "talkies," with Gene Kelly has a matinee idol, Donald O'Connor as his musical director and sidekick, and Debbie Reynolds as the new kid on the scene he falls for. A period piece, but an extremely modern film for its time. Many classic musical set-pieces, including the title scene, O'Connor's "Make ’Em Laugh" solo, and the trio's "Good Mornin'" bit with synchronized tapping on a flight of stairs:
3. Jules et Jim (1961): Francois Truffaut's delicate French classic about two friends — French Jules and German Jim — who befriend and fall for the same woman (Jeanne Moreau) before being forced to fight on opposite sides of the Great War. Truffaut follows the complicated relationships among the three both before and after the war. Full of indelible scenes, like the footrace across the bridge. Warning for xenophobes: Very, very French.
4. Broadcast News (1987): Writer-director James Brooks' sophisticated workplace comedy. High-strung, brainy Holly Hunter is a network news producer. Albert Brooks — in his best performance outside of his own films — is her best-friend and most competent correspondent. New guy William Hurt is the good-looking, ostensibly empty-headed anchor-in-training. The rare modern mainstream comedy that is geared towards literate adults.
5. Bull Durham (1988): Ron Shelton's old-fashioned comedy triumph, set in the world of minor-league baseball. Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) is the hotshot pitcher on his way to the show. Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) is the journeyman catcher brought in to train him. Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) is the sexy, warm-hearted local torn between them. A modern comedy in the spirit of classic-Hollywood greats Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges, and definitely the best baseball movie ever.