Pieces of flair
More of your "movies that get it right":
The Big Kahuna gets it so right. It encapsulates my first "real" job out of college (after working retail) as the marketing manager for a hardware sundries company. The "close acquaintances" friendship between the salesmen and their "teaching the new kid the ways of the working world" was spot on.
S. chimes in:
I'd have to say that Office Space is really one of the most accessible movies there is, really. Most anybody who's ever had a job can relate to a bit of it. For example, I've worked in factories for 3 summers to pay for college. This year, I'm working in a place that bases pay largely on the piece rate system - there's the base rate, and if one produces more than the base, one earns more. My boss came up to me after I'd been there about a month to review my performance. He pointed out that my output recently had hit a plateau, and "we'd like to always see our employees improving." Also, I was working at about 115%: "We really like for everybody to work at at least 130%." I had a very powerful flashback as he said that - to the "pieces of flair" scene in Office Space!
Welcome to the Doll House was so accurate about the junior high experience, at least for people who went through that stage the way I did, that I walked out of the theater shaken; I didn't do that age very well. I remember at that age knowing that something was going wrong but having no idea precisely what it was or how to change it. It replicated the junior high experience sufficiently well that while I was glad to have seen it, I have carefully avoided it when it's on TV. The last thing I want when I'm watching TV is for the magic of movies to bring me back to Norup Junior High School.
Clock Watchers captured the temp experience perfectly. No one bothers to learn your name. You're in the office, but you're not of the office. You want a real job at the company, but they won't hire you. I've been out of "the real world" for ages now, but this movie brought it all back for me.
(Excellent performances,too, from Parker Posey and Lisa Kudrow.)
This sounds a little too depressing, but Where the Day Takes You is one of the best accounts of living on the streets that I've ever seen put to film. It takes away all the glamour of running away from home, leaving the reality of how absolutely soul sapping [it is] just getting through a single day completely on your own, when you should still be living at home. While it's been over a decade since I had to live that life, watching this one the first time a few years ago on cable brought me back to my teenage years like nothing I've seen since Drugstore Cowboy. I highly recommend it, though I do have a habit of liking my movies depressing. I think the reason why so many people get Office Space is that even if you don't work in a cubical farm, there are so many basic ideas in it that appeal to so many people, such as the Hell of working somewhere that needs "Flair" or just plain hating your job.
Me without You is the movie that perfectly captures the relationship I have with my "best friend." Had we not been placed together as infants, I'm sure we would have never truly become friends in any other circumstances. We have a love-hate relationship, just as Holly and Marina do, that is never free of jealousy, competition, and an addiction to each other's presence. I wouldn't be surprised if other people saw their own relationship with their lifelong best friend while watching this movie. Some people questioned the ending because Holly and Marina remained friends through all the vicious drama they heaped on each other. I thought it was a perfect example of dysfunctional friends who are so much like sisters (or brothers), they could have a 99.9% match on a DNA test.
(An early version of this theme is Old Acquaintance starring Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins as best friends who battle through life, men and careers.)
And from me: How about some movies about the writing life? The Paper captures how it feels to be on deadline for a big story (time seems to devolve into slow motion). All the President's Men shows how much basic slogging it takes for reporters to get the truth in a story. Author! Author! features one of Al Pacino's comic performances (alongside a giggly Dyan Cannon and a twitchy Tuesday Weld), playing a Broadway playwright who just can't get the problems of Act 2 solved. And watch for two new films about Truman Capote, one starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as the tiny terror -- and what great casting is that?