Nolte: Woke Movies Suck. Try These 5 Underrated Titles You Might Have Missed

white sands imdb (1)
Warner Bros.

Man, movies suck today. So does TV. Sure, there are exceptions, but are you really willing to dig through all that Woke Poop to find something decent? I’m not. Time is too precious.

So, until the Woke Gestapo finishes its hideous run of anti-art, until this era of insufferable, self-righteous, guilt trip, anti-joy propaganda comes to an end, I’m sticking to the tried and true. And not just choice cuts, like Goodfellas and Singin’ in the Rain and Red River. I’m moving into the deep cuts, those titles I remember enjoying that are now mostly forgotten.

The titles listed below (basically, what I watched over the past couple of weeks) have always been under-appreciated. Compared to the violations of human nature being produced by the Woke Nazis, they play like masterpieces.

As far as where you can find these titles, they’re all in my personal collection, so you might have to hunt around your streaming services or the Internet to find them. All I can do is link to where I got them from.

The Doctor (1992)

William Hurt, Mandy Patinkin, Adam Arkin, Elizabeth Perkins, Christine Lahti, Wendy Crewson…

Look at that cast. Movies used to be like this. Real actors. Adults. Talent.

A terrific William Hurt stars as Dr. Jack McKee, a gifted heart surgeon with no heart of his own; a man terrified to connect to others, including his own wife (Lahti). While he’s a skilled doctor, he’s cold and distant with his patients. And then, one day, he gets sick and finds himself funneled through an indifferent system.

Based on an actual doctor’s 1988  memoir A Taste of My Own Medicine, The Doctor is the movie Regarding Henry failed to be. There are a couple of moments where it gets a little cute, but for the most part, The Doctor avoids the treacle.

BEST SCENE: When McKee asks Adam Arkin’s Dr. Eli Bloomfield for help.

Phase IV (1974)

The only feature ever directed by Saul Bass — one of the most influential graphic designers in movies — Phase IV was a box office and critical flop when released but rebounded when people like myself caught it late on the late show.

Ants have stopped warring and appear to be organizing and getting smarter. Ground Zero appears to be the Arizona desert, so scientists James R. Lesko (Michael Murphy) and Ernest D. Hubb (Nigel Davenport) set up a self-contained lab in the middle of this nowhere and quickly find themselves in a psychological war.

I love everything about this movie… What you never forget, though, are the visuals. Bass directs the hell out of this, and in a pre-CGI world, what he and nature photographer Ken Middleham got those insects to do is even more mind-blowing today.

BEST SCENE: For the sake of the rest, one ant after another sacrifices itself to pull a chunk of poison to the queen, so she can digest and give birth to ants that will be immune.

White Sands (1992)

Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Samuel L. Jackson, M. Emmet Walsh, Mimi Rogers, Maura Tierney, Fred Thompson, James Rebhorn, and the great John Ryan.

One of those rare movies where Dafoe is the protagonist and hero. He plays Ray Dolezal, a New Mexico deputy sheriff obviously too smart for his lot in life. Nevertheless, he sticks because his wife (Rogers) and son come first, and that’s what heroes do.

A dead body, a suitcase full of cash, and the opportunity to spend a night doing something other than catching speeders prove too tempting. Ray sets off to ID a body by going undercover. He expects to be home the next day and soon finds himself involved with the FBI, CIA, international weapons dealers, and the stunning Lane Bodine (Mastrantonio), a dilettante who likes to “do good” by playing footsie with bad boys.

Largely forgotten and dismissed, I think people missed the overall point of this beautifully-shot neo-noir.

White Sands is about something much bigger than car chases and plot twists — it’s about a decent, everyday family man’s struggle to avoid the worldly temptations laid at his feet. It’s about a man with a moral compass surrounded by the morally compromised who still tries to bring the bad guys to justice without becoming one of them.

If you watch the movie with that in mind, it becomes something very special and moving.

BEST SCENE: Because I’m shallow, it involves two people in a shower. Gee, remember when movies were fun and sexy?

Crooklyn (1994)

Crooklyn, director Spike Lee’s semi-biographical, slice of life, near-masterpiece is easily the director’s most accessible movie to date, the lovely and moving tale of a large Brooklyn family struggling to get by in 1973.

The story centers on nine-year-old Troy (a stunning Zelda Harris) and her coming of age in a house with four brothers, her stern but loving mother (the great Alfre Woodward), and her loving father (the great Delroy Lindo), a struggling musician caught between his dreams and family responsibility.

Without ever feeling episodic, there’s no over-arching story, which is why the movie works so well. Lee and his co-writers (siblings Joie Susannah Lee and Cinqué Lee) deliver up a series of subplots while recreating 1973 America in perfect and affectionate detail.

Best of all, Lee never stoops to Boomer Porn with cheap callbacks and Easter eggs and lazy nostalgia. It all feels real, like a home movie, thanks primarily to the kids, whose performances are so natural you can hardly believe it.

Best of all, if you grew up in the ’70s like I did, you don’t have to be black or from Brooklyn to relate to every one of those 115 minutes — from the games we played to the fights to the pranks to the bickering to the backtalk to the lying and local store and weird neighbors and bad influences and dancing to Soul Train and singing along with the Partridge Family. What I could most relate to was being sent off to stay with relatives in what feels like an alien land.

Lovely, lovely movie. Poignant, hilarious… One that stays with you.

BEST SCENE: Any scene where the kids are laying around on the bed watching TV.

The Package (1989)

Gene Hackman, Tommy Lee Jones, Joanna Cassidy, Pam Grier, John Heard, Dennis Franz, Reni Santoni…

Director Andrew Davis first caught my attention in 1985 with Code of Silence, a B-movie he directed into an A-movie set in my favorite city, Chicago, that starred Chuck Norris, Dennis Farina, and Henry Silva.

He did it again in 1988 with Above the Law, which is also set in Chicago and made Steven Seagal a star.

Then along came The Package, which, despite its A-list cast, still bombed with a $10 million gross off an $18 million budget — which is about half of what Code of Silence and Above the Law grossed.

Nevertheless, it’s a gem. A political-conspiracy-action thriller filled with great performances and Chicago locations.

The Mighty Gene Hackman plays Johnny Gallagher, a U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant, assigned the thankless job of transferring insubordinate deserter Tom Boyette (a crackerjack Tommy Lee Jones) from West Berlin to a stateside prison.

Things have only begun to unravel after Boyette escapes. Pretty soon Gallagher is involved in a high-level assassination plot involving ne0-Nazis, the CIA, and a patsy, while the U.S. and Russia prepare a disarmament treaty.

John Heard is a real standout giving real dimension to what could have been a pretty thankless role.

BEST SCENE: It’s a tie: Hackman and Jones debating duty and patriotism on a transport plane is unforgettable: “What’d you do, read a book, Walter?” Then, near the end, when the villain explains his motive, the movie has the courage to make it an intelligent and reasonable one. You can’t approve of his methods, but he’s not wrong.

Four years later, Davis would reunite with Jones for an A-picture he knocked right out of the park: The Fugitive (which is also set in Chicago).

So there you go. Five intelligent, entertaining, adult titles that can help you muster through this Woke Reign of Terror, which is going to be around for a while.   

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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