bccaf3c0-89bb-4d41-a347-b23ea24f480ePretty Wild
2010, E!

Pretty Wild was a nine-episode reality show about teenage girls living in L.A. You might be thinking to yourself, “Bah, ANOTHER ONE? WHO CARES?” But seriously, this show is one of a kind. The cameras follow Tess Taylor, 21, and Alexis Neiers, 19, as they navigate their modeling “careers,” while their little sister Gabby, 16, just tries to survive as the normal one. Except, of course, things are never normal on a reality show, because why would you watch that? The girls are all homeschooled by their mom, a former Playboy Playmate who bases their curriculum on The Secret (yup, you read that correctly). In the middle of the first episode, the cops come busting through the door with an arrest warrant for Alexis, a member of the Bling Ring, a gang of teenagers who ran around Los Angeles breaking into celebrities’ houses and stealing their stuff—yes, the same gang who inspired Sofia Coppola’s new film (see Hazel’s write-up below). There is so much DRAMA on this show. You will get sucked in immediately, and you will laugh, and you will probably yell things like “NO WAY!” and “GOOD GOD!” at the TV, because sometimes you will find it hard to believe that you are watching somebody’s actual life. I recommend getting your friends to watch, so you can text each other and post screenshots of your favorite parts on each other’s Facebook walls. (It’s streaming on Netflix.) —Laia

the-bling-ring-poster-fullThe Bling Ring (2013)
In one scene on Pretty Wild, we watch Alexis Neiers freak out on the phone to a Vanity Fair reporter whom she believes misrepresented her and her gang in an article. That article reportedly served as the basis for this movie by Sofia Coppola, and much of the dialogue in the film comes straight from that E! series (so maybe watch the show before you watch the movie). Most of my favorite scenes involve the girls pawing through the clothes, jewelry, and drugs in celebrity closets. “No, I have to have this one—you’ve never looked good in green and you know it!” whines Nicki (Emma Watson, doing an amazing impression of Neiers). Later the girls will fool around on a stripper pole in Paris Hilton’s club room, and you will literally be up to your eyeballs in designer sunglasses, handbags, and diamonds. It’s too ridiculous to have actually happened, but of course it did. —Hazel

factory_girl_ver2 (1)Factory Girl (2006)
Motorcycles. Cool, beautiful, outrageous youth acting cool, beautiful, and outrageous. A woman so unbelievably gorgeous that I never feel jealous, but simply lustful. Bob Dylan. These are the things I look for in a movie, and Factory Girl has them all, plus Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce) and his Factory. The movie follows the rise and demise of the actress and Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller). We watch her transform from a preppy-­looking art-school student to Warhol’s superstar to an addict so drugged-out that even the art world thinks she’s too druggy to be desirable. Ultimately, Edie died too young, and the film raises the interesting question of whether Andy made Edie Edie or Edie made Andy Andy (you know what I’m saying saying?). But mostly Factory Girl is a feel­-really­-good—FAME! GLORY! PARTYING!—before­-you­-feel-­really-­bad movie. It’s sad and sensuous, with an overload of good-­looking people. The actor who plays the character based on Bob Dylan (Hayden Christensen) lacks the chipmunk­-cheeked, pockmarked flair that made Real Bob Dylan so hot, but the fact that this is a dramatic, glamorized take on a scene that was already about being dramatic and glamorous is what makes Factory Girl fun to watch. It also makes me want to go out and buy a pair of dark sunglasses and feel a lot. (Feeling a lot: yet another quality that I go for in a movie.) —Anna M.

215px-To_die_for_impTo Die For (1995)
This dark comedy, directed by Gus Van Sant, is kind of wild, because it’s based on the true story of Pamela Smart, a woman currently serving a life sentence for conspiring with her 15-year-old lover to kill her husband. Nicole Kidman plays Suzanne Stone, a chipper perfectionist with aspirations toward becoming a famous anchorwoman. She marries Larry Maretto (Matt Dillon) and charges on with her dream while working for a local news station. She decides to a do an exploitative segment on high schoolers called “Teens Speak Now,” and in the process meets the troubled Jimmy (Joaquin Phoenix), Lydia (All Over Me’s Allison Folland), and Russell (Casey Affleck). Jimmy has a crush on Suzanne, and Suzanne preys on this, knowing she can make him do anything for her. It’s a twisted movie that explores just exactly how far some people will go for their 15 minutes of fame. —Hazel

12_box_348x490This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
This Is Spinal Tap is very precious to me, so I keep a special-edition VHS copy of it—the first I ever owned—in a tin Spinal Tap lunch box on a shelf above the rest of my video collection, like some kind of sacred relic. The movie is a mockumentary that follows the titular, fictional, British heavy-metal band on a disastrous North American tour. The group, whose catalog of hits includes gems like “Sex Farm” and “Big Bottom,” is past its prime, a fact that is embarrassingly obvious when shows are canceled because of poor ticket sales and they’re forced to play small venues (they have a gig at an amusement park where a puppet show gets top billing). What makes the movie so funny (it is SO FUNNY) is that these guys refuse to acknowledge the tragic state of their career—mostly because of their inflated egos, but also because admitting that their popularity is waning would just be too depressing—and so we get to watch them diva it up through more and more humiliating scenarios. Most of the dialogue was improvised by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer, who play the three central members, so the staggeringly silly things that come out of their mouths are delivered in this natural, deadpan way that totally catches you off guard. It’s is an over-the-top satire of rock-star antics (Guest’s Nigel strums his guitar with a violin during one insane solo), but by the end of it, you also start rooting for these characters. This Is Spinal Tap is so wonderful that it’s like, how much more wonderful could it be? And the answer is none. None more wonderful. —Amber

truman_show_ver1_xlgThe Truman Show (1998)
I still meet people who haven’t seen The Truman Show and I’m all WHAT?!, because it’s so, so good. Truman (Jim Carrey) is an average guy—a mildly unhappy insurance salesman living in an island town called Seahaven, where everything is just a little too perfect. Unbeknownst to Truman, he’s being monitored constantly: cameras have been documenting every single second of his life for a popular 24-hour reality TV show. His wife recites copy for product placements, residents repeat their everyday actions as if they were rehearsed, and Truman just can’t seem to leave Seahaven (because it’s a set). And then one day he decides to figure out what’s up. This film was ahead of its time: you will laugh, and maybe even cry, but above all, you will be pretty fucking paranoid. —Hazel

diacZodiac (2007)
The serial killer known as the Zodiac is literally the stuff of horror movies: a monster roaming the streets of the San Francisco Bay area in the late ’60s and early ’70s, murdering people and writing letters to local papers about it that include chilling ciphers. To be involved in hunting someone like that would be terrifying, frustrating, and probably perversely exciting. (Check out this Los Angeles Magazine story, written by amateur sleuth Michelle McNamara, about a present-day hunt for the Golden State Killer.) Director David Fincher is as meticulous as always in bringing every period detail of Robert Graysmith’s nonfiction book to life; both the movie and the book intertwine the stories of a haunting villain and of the men who unraveled while trying to find him. It’s tempting to fall down a Zodiac-related rabbit hole after watching it. —Phoebe

936full-boogie-nights-posterBoogie Nights (1997)
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Boogie Nights is about the so-called golden age of porn, before the chicness of the ’70s gave way to the excesses and health scares of the ’80s. Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) is a young dishwasher scouted by a director named Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) for adult films, based on Eddie’s ample endowment. He runs away from home to live with Horner in the San Fernando Valley, changes his name to Dirk Diggler, and becomes famous. Along the way, he befriends co-star Rollergirl (Heather Graham), who never takes off her skates, a nervous cameraman named Scotty (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and leading lady Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), a legend who takes Eddie and the others under her wing. While parts of the movie are disturbing, don’t let it’s porn-centric storyline fool you: it’s also absolutely hilarious. You come to really care about the characters, who mostly come from troubled backgrounds and find a new family on- and off-set. But obviously there is no shortage of graphic scenes, so choose your viewing partners wisely! —Hazel

220px-VelvetGoldminePosterVelvet Goldmine (1998)
Set in the ’70s during the heyday of glam, this lush and gorgeous film chronicles the rise and fall of a David Bowie–like rock star. Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is our Ziggy Stardust, and when he fakes his own murder on stage, he kills his career in the process. The movie unfolds like a biopic, pieced together by a journalist named Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) who is trying to get the full story on Slade’s life from the people who knew him best, like his ex-wife Mandy (Toni Collette) and his former lover/collaborator Curt Wild (a bleached-blonde Ewan McGregor, who also wears the greatest silver pants and is loosely based on Iggy Pop and Lou Reed). If you’re a fan of any of these artists, it’s fun to watch repurposed and reimagined versions of their stories. The masterful Todd Haynes (I’m Not There) captures the decadence of the era: the soundtrack is a who’s who of Brit poppers and indie rockers doing ’70s glam, and the dazzling costumes had me dressing in nothing but velvet, feathers, and platform shoes for a year. —Stephanie

39566The Last Days of Disco (1998)
I’m the biggest Whit Stillman fangirl ever, though he’s only written and directed four movies in his career. This one is about, you guessed it, the waning days of the disco era in New York City. Stillman’s yuppies, Alice (Chloë Sevigny) and Charlotte (Kate Beckinsale), go dancing each weekend at clubs on the fringe of Studio 54, but it’s the early ’80s, and their favorite music and culture is dying, possibly along with their friendship: Charlotte is stuck-up, mean-spirited, and always condescending to the shyer Alice. Stillman made his mark in Metropolitan and Barcelona by poking fun at the college-educated bourgeois crowd, and the characters here have lengthy philosophical conversations about what Lady and the Tramp was REALLY about and whether you should be true to yourself if your self is pretty bad. It’s really funny if you like dry humor, snappy dialogue, and dancing on the subway to “Love Train.” —Hazel

gitsmovieThe Gits (2005)
The Gits are my favorite band from the early ’90s that not enough people have heard about—or if they have heard of them, it’s probably not because of lead singer Mia Zapata’s gorgeous, bluesy voice, but because of her death. In July 1993, right before the release of the band’s second album, Mia was raped and murdered on her way home from a Seattle bar. The case was cold for 10 years, until DNA evidence helped convict her killer. But I love this documentary because it gives us much more than that story. We get to know Mia as a girl from Kentucky. We see the Gits form at Antioch College in Ohio (where I went for a year because—fangirl moment—I’d read about it in the liner notes of one of the band’s CDs). There are clips of gigs, and Joan Jett and the members of 7 Year Bitch talk about the incredible power of Mia’s lyrics. When they get to the murder, the director resists the urge to sensationalize it, instead letting Mia’s friends, family, and bandmates recall the woman they lost—and the major talent we all lost. If you aren’t familiar with the music of the Gits, this doc serves as a great introduction. If, like me, you are already an admirer, you will find it a fitting tribute. —Stephanie ♦