Labor Day's a funny holiday. It's got a rich history of honoring working folk, and yet the original parades and festivals set up initially...feel like a lot of work. Also, it's a big retail sales day, meaning that those in the retail industry (about a quarter of the U.S. population, and only a tiny percentage of those folks represented by a union) don't get the day off.
The spirit of the day, though, is admirable, and it's not a bad time to kick back with some movies. What movies are appropriate for this curious but well-deserved holiday? What are the best movies about work?
To this viewer there are two great genres of work movie: one is the concert documentary, where you get to observe great people at the office, where their job happens to be making great music. Sadly, the increasingly complex tangle of music rights & clearances mean few of these are allowed to stream on line, though, happily, the super-appropriate Dave Chappelle's Block Party has broken loose on three platforms.
Leaving us with my OTHER favorite genre of work movie: the heist film! These are perfect movies for this holiday: crews of brooding, desperate men & women assembling for a difficult task; watching each perform their part of the operation; seeing their desperation mount as the law draws near. These movies invite you to kick back and get engrossed as these engaged crews of specialists (before and behind the camera) do all the work. And what work! From classics like The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, Topkapi, and Le Cercle Rouge to post-modern tweaks of the form such as Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects, the heist movie is perfect to get absorbed into this Labor Day.