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Take a Working Vacation: 10 Films for the Labor Day Weekend

I am sure that television has an abundance of movie marathons in store for this Labor Day Weekend. But instead of the usual Action X-travaganza, Lifetime Movie Special Mini-Series, or American Pie Blowout, try our alternative Labor Day list. Acknowledging the fact that the majority of the American population spends most of their waking life at work, it is surprising to note how few labor films exist. Obviously movie goers prefer films about drugs (Winter’s Bone, Requiem for a Dream, City of God, etc.) when poor working class folk comprise the characters. When attempting to recall films about work in general, we are left with Legal/Law Dramas (Cruising, Erin Brockovich, etc.) Showbusiness films (All About Eve, Network, The Wrestler etc.) or white collar work (The Social Network, Wall Street, Citizen Kane, etc.). It seems most likely that Americans utilize film as a vacation from their boring and mundane life rather than a critique of it. So I searched for ten films about hard blue collar or pink collar work, in observance of Labor Day. So take a vacation from work by watching these 10 films about… work.

9 to 5 (1985)

9 to 5 (1985)
This list could not be complete without the epitome of the 9 to 5 movie. A trio of working women (including Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda) kidnap their boss in Collin Higgins’ hilarious camp fest. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Factotum (2005)

Factotum (2005)
Filmed on location here in the Twin Cities, Matt Dillon proves not only that he can act, but that life in the working class is not a crystal stair. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Grapes of Wrath (1940)
During the depression, Henry Fonda and others must head for California for rumors and promises of water and jobs that are lacking out east. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis (1927)
In a fascist dystopian society, workers rebel against the bourgeois after a beautiful robot is brought to life. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Modren Times (1936)

Modern Times (1936)
Charlie Chaplain plays a lovable assembly line worker in this romantic classic. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Outsourced (2006)

Outsourced (2006)
Before being laid off, Todd’s company sends him to India to train a nascent call center replacing his own. For obvious reasons, this indie flick could have easily made our 4th of July list. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Norma Rae (1979)

Norma Rae (1979)
Sally Field won her Oscar for this film in which she plays Norma Rae, the real life mill worker who stood up against poor and unsafe working conditions. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

North Country (2005)

North Country (2005)
Similarly, Charlize Theron was up for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Josey Aimes, the real life Iron Range worker who stood up against sexism and misogyny in the work force. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Secretary (2002)

Secretary (2002)
When Maggie Gyllennhaal leaves the psychiatric facility in which she had been institutionalized, she finds masochistic comfort as James Spader’s secretary. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Strike (1925)

Strike (1925)
A film about a group of workers who strike for better working conditions in Soviet Russia.

So tell us what works for you!

Guy Stridsigne  9/1/2011

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