TG10 Guest List: Vera Drew (The People’s Joker)

Welcome to TG10s. This year, echoing another publication, we are posting our top 10s, and taking votes from you. Keep reading The Twin Geeks for lists from our regular writers, as well as some extra special selection of lists from some amazing guests.

Vera Drew is the director of The People’s Joker, a queer, viral, unauthorized, and illegal challenge to the state of rights issues. Vera is also a must-follow on Twitter and one of the creators we’d most like for you to watch out for. Photo credit: Sophie Prettyman-Beauchamp.

1. Back to the Future

Back to the Future. Dir. Robert Zemeckis.

It was on WGN Chicago and my parents taped it for me when I was four years old so I wouldn’t even be able to guess how many times I’ve seen it because, thereafter, I watched it just about every single day of my childhood. As a now (mostly) grown-up filmmaker, I still love it because every frame is rich with detailed world-building that actually pays off on a story level. Every single thing that happens in this film happens for a reason. And to an obsessive degree.

2. Showgirls

Showgirls. Dir. Paul Verhoevan.

Many have called me “dumb” and “horny” for how high I rank this but my love for Showgirls is pure, deep, and irony-free. It’s completely feminist and wildly funny…and like…intentionally so, you guys. It’s not “so bad it’s good.” Paul Verhoeven is hilarious on a masterful level and an absolute genius when it comes to deconstructing male gaze, corporate sleaze, sexual fascism, and the exploitation of femmes within capitalist entertainment.

3. Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive. Dir. David Lynch.

At the risk of collecting another “horny” accusation: I discovered David Lynch, my favorite director of all time, because at 13 I saw this film’s gorgeously tender love scene on a website called Mr. Skin. I ended up buying the DVD immediately after, it expanded my consciousness, taught me everything I know about making dreamy films, and showed me at a very important age that romanticizing Hollywood as a place where dreams come true is just as dangerous as only looking at relationships with cartoonish nostalgia.

4. Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins. Dir. Robert Stevenson.

Disclaimer: I think the Walt Disney Company is the scourge of the Earth and this film was made during one of its most exploitive and exclusionary periods, and yet, it will always have a place in my heart as a maximalist masterpiece with practical effects and technical innovations that still blow my mind every time I watch it. Mary Poppins is an inspiration to weird lesbians everywhere.

5. Desperate Living

Desperate Living. Dir. John Waters.

I always get so sad by the time the movie ends because every single time I wish I could stay in its world for even just a little bit longer. It’s a gorgeously ugly, unapologetically queer, genuinely anarchic, accidentally sexy, and authentically romantic at times. Edith Massey and Mink Stole’s best performances.

6. Metropolis

Metropolis. Dir. Fritz Lang.

Lemme be bold: this is the most important film ever made. Everyone should see it in a theater at some point. German expressionism is my favorite cinematic aesthetic and no film better encapsulates all that I love about it. The intricate and otherworldly sets, the gorgeous framing and composition of each shot, the pacing, the character design, the magick, the mystery, the women….gonna go watch it right now…

7. The Fly

The Fly. Dir. David Cronenberg.

Really any Cronenberg film could go in this spot. Everyone thinks of him as a body horror filmmaker, and like…yeah…sure. But no one is better at showcasing the real life horror of falling in love with somebody and completely losing yourself in the process.

8. The Beaver Trilogy

The Beaver Trilogy. Dir. Trent Harris.

As a storyteller and a filmmaker, it was a creative game changer to see Trent Harris’s documentary-meets-experimental-reenactment. As a trans woman who used to only be able to express her identity through ironic drag and alternative comedy, it was life-changing for me to watch Richard LaVon Griffith (then Sean Penn, and then Crispin Glover) muttering to himself “I’m still a guy…” while getting made up to look like Olivia Newton John.

9. Capricorn One

Capricorn One. Dir. Peter Hyams.

I grew up in a household where a healthy amount of skepticism was encouraged for things like the moon landing and JFK assassination, which is why I have been rewatching Capricorn One about once a year since I was 10. A cheesy but well-executed conspiracy thriller about a faked Mars landing, it racks up my favorite performances of all time from Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Sam Waterson, Hal Holbrook, Telly Savalas, and of course, Orenthal James Simpson.

10. Southland Tales

Southland Tales. Dir. Richard Kelly.

Richard Kelly’s follow-up to Donnie Darko was critically maligned and ridiculed when it premiered at Cannes, and I am so glad audiences are just starting to see it for what it is: a prophetic piece of pop art, the cinematic equivalent of Vonnegut or PK, and the Rock’s greatest performance since Monday Night Raw. It’s also where I got my life’s motto: “I’m a pimp. Pimps don’t commit suicide.”

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