Unemployment Therapy at the Cinema

Let’s say you’re one of the 467,000 American workers laid off in the last month. You’re a bit vexed, and most definitely looking for some solace. Say no more:

Hopscotch (1980)
Recently reissued by the great Criterion Collection, and also available streaming on Netflix, this Walter Matthau vehicle asks: If you were an aging spy forced into a desk job, wouldn’t it be more fun to lead the CIA on a wild goose chase around the globe while you spill all their secrets in a tell-all memoir? You’ll have to get past the idea of Matthau with a love interest right out of Breathless, but once you do it’s “madcap” and “zany” and actually worth watching.

Recommended for those rainy-day planners with some savings with which to orchestrate elaborate pranks on ex-colleagues.

Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Of course Italian Neorealism had to figure in here somewhere. This one is best viewed after you spent your last dollar on ramen noodles. I’m not condoning anything, but there are a lot of fixed bikes in Williamsburg with crappy locks…

This film could go on any list, really. It’s stunning, and if you haven’t seen it yet, do so immediately.

Gerry (2002)
You don’t need money to have a good time, just a buddy and the great outdoors!

Old Joy (2006)
Kind of the anti-Gerry, this film is also about two old friends who escape to nature. Except, you know, nobody dies. (I haven’t seen it yet, but people tell me  Kelly Reichardt’s follow up Wendy and Lucy could also make this list.)

How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1988)
Getting canned makes one naturally suspicious of this whole capitalism endeavor, so a good satire can take the edge off. It’s only flaw is that the film doesn’t take place in America, the seat of advertising in the modern age. All of this is forgiven when the protagonist starts growing another head our of his shoulder.

Also the apex of Richard E. Grant’s career. (Trailer)

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