Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
Who says genre movies can’t be cute and heartwarming? Probably no one but I needed a lead-in. The History of Future Folk (Netflix, $3.99 Amazon) is just delightful. It’s technically sci-fi, but none of that factors in too heavily. It’s more of an excuse to have goofy costumes and wacky song lyrics. Underlying the silly bucket helmets and jumpsuits, though, there’s a sincere story of a man suffering through the possibility of losing touch with his wife. It’s a comedy so we know how that works out, but it’s nonetheless ardent and packed to the gills with lovable characters. THOFF is the kind of movie you may only watch once but you’ll think about it afterward and when you do, you’ll smile.
In THOFF, two aliens from planet Hondo (who never fail to adorably salute one another with a perfunctory, “Hondo!”) land on earth and experience music for the first time. Instead of destroying the planet’s population as they were ordered, they decide to start a folk band. I know, it’s a tired and overused premise, but they somehow manage to avoid copying previous alien musical comedies too directly.
THOFF is a true independent film with no studio dollars at work (though it sports a budget sufficient to film on the streets of New York and pay Dee Snider to be Dee Snider for a few scenes). It’s biggest selling point is obviously the zany, space-themed songs, which tell the story of the film pretty sufficiently on their own. That’s likely because the movie is based on the two lead actors’ real life band, Future Folk, which makes this sort of an embellished origin story. But like I said, all that is background for the tender, thoughtful story of a man who’s unable to find happiness after his passion fails to blossom into a fruitful career. Me and my tap shoes know exactly how he feels.
Added Bonus: Most if not all the musical numbers in THOFF take place inside Trash Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I used to live across the street from that shithole. Of all the myriad hipster bars and music venues that sprung up in Williamsburg while I was there, Trash was among the worst. Somewhere between a grunge hangout and a Bosnian karaoke lounge, it was clearly designed to evoke memories of CBGB in people who were too young have heard of CBGB before it was in its death throes. It’s the kind of place where graffiti and stickers had to be painstakingly added to the walls by management during renovations, its plush sofas intentionally replaced with cracked vinyl office chairs. Six months before it became Trash it was some gaudy electroclash club and before that it was something equally ludicrous. Yet not only has this latest intentionally dingy, totally generic incarnation survived the massive upscaling South Williamsburg has enjoyed in the past ten years, it’s also become a sought-after location for cool independent films. There really is no justice in the world, though it’s always nice to see a movie scene shot in a bathroom you’ve thrown up in.