Movie Night: My top 10 list

cinema

Hello everyone. Tonight, (usually a Sunday) is when I just sit down and watch a movie, and rant about it. I can’t really think of any real films that I feel like, uh, reviewing today. I’m watching ‘The Dark Crystal’ though. It’s one of those films that Jim Henson was involved in sans Muppets, etc., like ‘The Labyrinth’ or whatever. Anyways, a few months back I got into a conversation with my friend about how even though it’s tough, if I could pick my top 10 favorite films, what would they be? Might be easy for some, but I worked on that list for nearly three days and now I can’t find it, so I guess I have to start over.

Before I get to the list, I’m just going to point out that my taste in movies might seem a bit strange, but at the end of the day that basically just explains my personality, why I complain all the time, and why a lot of my friends in real life dismiss my opinions on most things as callous, snobby, and whatever. The guy was being a jerk anyways.

[edit] It’s now Monday night. I had to go out last minute for cat food and stuff and ended up helping a couple who got into a car accident. They were basically stranded, so I gave them a ride back to their house, and gave them a free consultation on how to upgrade their home theater setup. Nice people, I guess. They made me nachos. Anyways, I found the original list. Looking at it now, maybe it’s not so strange and film-snobby. But let’s just say, if it was a top 20, it might include things that folks would expect to see, like, I don’t know, Goodfellas, or something. Having to pick ten films that I would consider my favorites of all time was very challenging for me.

And so, after a very long process, I picked my fave top 10 movies, and made a list. Descriptions will be brief, and I will provide a trailer for said listed film as I count them down. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way to the top.

[10] Full Metal Jacket (1987) Dir. Stanley Kubrick

War movies are a great part of cinema history. Take D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915), for example. For its time, it brought groundbreaking storytelling of the American Civil War into theaters for the first time, and I can imagine how much impact a person in that era seeing such a film could potentially have. Anyways, other war movies that are of notable mention are Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, and whichever one your favorite is. For me, when I want to watch a movie about war, I watch Full Metal Jacket. Yeah, it’s a Kubrick film, so it’s as one would expect. Visually spectacular, superbly cast, the acting is amazing, and will almost definitely leave you saying to yourself ‘Wtf, war IS hell”, and the you’ll have the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Club stuck in your head for a day or so. Think my favorite thing about this one (as a war movie) is the plot structure. No spoilers, but the film is basically divided into two halves. The ‘boot camp’ part, and the ‘War’ part. Even if I were to sit down and watch it tonight, it’s almost like I’d be watching two movies in one, and by the end, it all just sorta works.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[9] Shaun of the Dead (2004) Dir. Edgar Wright

I LOVE ZOMBIE MOVIES. Not even sure why. Obviously, I adore all of the Romero, Fulci, and Raimi classics, but when Shaun of the Dead came out, it changed me. Edgar Wright was able to take everything I love about zombie films, and made one of the smartest, funniest, most entertaining ones I have ever seen. Edgar Wright’s style with his film and television projects are littered with homages and allusions to the things that are relevant to what the audience is watching. Whether you catch them as inside jokes, or just nods to the horror/zombie genre in general, Shaun has it all and completely blew me away. I think I have seen this film more than any of these on this list. Btw, don’t say the Zed word, and you’ve got red on you.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[8] Magnolia (1999) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

In other reviews that I wrote, I mentioned that I almost feel like Paul Thomas Anderson is the Stanley Kubrick for anyone who appreciates film and is over the the age of let’s say, 18 or so. Magnolia is probably one of PTA’s most challenging films to digest emotionally, and to just sit through. It’s also one that deserves a proper day long review at least. It primarily screens as an ensemble piece, with multiple overlapping story lines between characters, who all play a very crucial uh, part, in a story that wraps itself around several days in L.A. …People die, fall in love, break up, break the law, and a cop loses his gun. I know that’s literally the worst way I can sum this one up, but it’s totally worth a watch if you are willing to sit through Julianne Moore attempting suicide and Tom Cruise cursing his father out crying while he is on his death bed. Oh and (spoiler alert), at the end, frogs fall out of the sky.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[7] Pulp Fiction (1994) Dir. Quentin Tarantino

THIS IS THE MOVIE THAT MADE ME LOVE MOVIES. Must have been in middle school when I first saw it. At that age, I had seen other controversial films and understood why they were important, but I distinctly remember, for almost weeks on end, walking home from the bus stop and coming home just to watch this film repeatedly. Anyways, you’ve all seen it right? Watch it again.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[6] Pierrot Le Fou (1965) Dir. Jean-luc Godard

From my review of this several months ago:

“Pierrot le Fou (pronounced: [pjɛʁo lə fu], French for “Pierrot the madman”) is a 1965 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard, starring Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film is based on the 1962 novel,Obsession, by Lionel White. It was Jean-Luc Godard’s tenth feature film, released between Alphaville and Masculin, féminin. The film was the 15th highest grossing film of the year with a total of 1,310,580 admissions in France. The film was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 38th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.”

TL;Dr (Spoiler Alert):

“Ferdinand Griffon (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is unhappily married and has been recently fired from his job at a TV broadcasting company. After attending a mindless party full of shallow discussions in Paris, he feels a need to escape and decides to run away with his baby-sitter, an ex-girlfriend, Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina), leaving his wife and children and bourgeois lifestyle. Following Marianne into her apartment and finding a corpse, Ferdinand soon discovers that Marianne is being chased by OAS gangsters, two of whom they barely escape.

Marianne and “Pierrot” – the unwelcome nickname meaning “sad clown,” which Marianne gives to Ferdinand during their time together – go on a traveling crime spree from Paris to the Mediterranean Sea in the dead man’s car. They lead an unorthodox life, always on the run. Settling down in the French Riviera after having burnt the dead man’s car (full of money) and sunk a second car into the Mediterranean Sea, their relationship becomes strained. Griffon ends up reading books, philosophizing and writing in his diary. The baby-sitter becomes bored of the Robert Louis Stevenson-ness of their living situation and insists they return to town, where in a night club they meet one of their pursuers. The gangsters waterboard Pierrot and depart. In the confusion, Marianne and Ferdinand are separated, with her traveling in search of Pierrot and him settling in Toulon.

After their eventual reunion, Renoir uses Griffon to get a suitcase full of money before running away with her real boyfriend, Fred (Dirk Sanders), to whom she had previously referred as her brother. Pierrot shoots Marianne and her boyfriend, and then paints his face blue and decides to blow himself up by tying sticks of red and yellow dynamite to his head. Regretting his decision at the last second, he tries to extinguish the fuse, but, due to the dynamite obstructing his vision, fails and is blown up.”

Yup. The main character paints his face blue, wraps dynamite around his head and lights the fuse. The end. IMO This movie kicks ass, but I’m an old French film buff. I think I like it more than Breathless because his storytelling seems more focused, but it’s weird as hell. Also in color. Additionally, Anna Karina’s and Belmondo’s style er, fashion is super cool.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[5] La Vita è Bella [Life is Beautiful] (1997) Dir. Roberto Benigni

There is so much that I want to say about this film, but to do that properly, I would have to devote and least a day and a half (at best) to give it a proper review or uh, credit, for being that good. Part love story, part war movie, but really just brilliant Italian cinema from the late 90s that received three academy awards. Actually, I think I might just watch it tonight. I guess the best way I can put it is that it takes sincerely heavy black comedy about the damn Holocaust and turns it into a wonderful, inspiring story about, love, fatherhood, genocide, etc. Every time I watch it I cry my fucking eyes out, because a story this epic, just simply turned out beautiful, hence the name of the film. That’s about all I can say really, besides ‘Buongiorno Principessa!”, and (spoiler alert), Joshua does win his tank.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[4] Annie Hall (1977) Dir. Woody Allen

I really don’t give one crap on your opinion about Woody Allen. His resume speaks for itself. His films, books, plays, music, are all genius. Annie Hall, in my opinion is his best film. Think it’s the one that won the most awards though too. Won the Oscar for best film that year, and three others including best actress (Diane Keaton) and best director (Woody Allen). It is a wonderfully complex story about goofy people in the 70’s just trying to make it NYC, fall in love, do cocaine, and i don’t know, ‘La di da, yeah, la di da” In fact, it’s the only film I have seen where the protagonist (Allen) steps out of the scene on screen as a character and directly just bitches to the audience about how a character in his movie (as the director of the film) is just pissing him off. “I’d like to hit this guy on a gut level”, Allen says. The character just steps out of the scene to complain about how badly the argument about Marshall McLuhan was ruining his chance for him to get laid by Annie that night. He actually happened to have Mr. McLuhan on set and brought him out on screen to prove the other guy wrong. It’s awesome. Gets to bang Diane Keaton that night.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[3] A Bout De Souffle [Breathless] (1960) Dir. Jean-luc Godard

From my review last week:

Again, I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

Breathless was loosely based on a newspaper article that Truffaut read in The News in Brief. The character of Michel Poiccard is based on real-life Michel Portail and his American girlfriend and journalist Beverly Lynette. In November 1952 Portail stole a car to visit his sick mother in Le Havre and ended up killing a motorcycle cop named Grimberg.

Truffaut worked on a treatment for the story with Chabrol, but they ended up dropping the idea when they could not agree on the story structure. Godard had read and liked the treatment and wanted to make the film. While working as a Press Agent at 20th Century Fox, Godard met producer Georges de Beauregard and told him that his latest film was shit. De Beauregard hired Godard to work on the script for Pêcheur d’Islande. After six weeks Godard became bored with the script and suggested making Breathless instead. Chabrol and Truffaut agreed to give Godard their treatment and wrote de Beauregard a letter from the Cannes Film Festival in May 1959 agreeing to work on the film if Godard directed it. Truffaut and Chabrol had recently become star directors and their names secured financing for the film. Truffaut was credited as the original writer and Chabrol as the technical adviser. Chabrol later claimed that he only visited the set twice and Truffaut’s biggest contribution was persuading Godard to cast Liliane David in a minor role. Fellow New Wave director Jacques Rivette appears in a cameo as the dead body of a man hit by a car in the street.

K. Holy crap, in everything I have ever read about this film, including the 90 page book that came with my Criterion Collection DVD, I did not know that the plot was somewhat inspired by an actual story from a newspaper. Crazy. Francois Truffaut is also an excellent and groundbreaking filmmaker. I should watch more of his stuff when I get a chance.   

Godard wrote the script as he went along. As well as the real-life Michel Portail, Godard based the main character on screenwriter Paul Gégauff, who was known as a swaggering seducer of women. Godard also named several characters after people he had known earlier in his life when he lived in Geneva. The film includes a couple of in-jokes as well: the young woman selling Cahiers du Cinéma on the street (Godard had written for the magazine), and Michel’s occasional alias of László Kovács, the Hungarian-American cinematographer who would become famous for Five Easy Pieces and other films.

[Plot] | Spoilers:

Michel (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a youthful criminal who is intrigued with the film persona of Humphrey Bogart. After stealing a car in Marseille, Michel shoots and kills a policeman who has followed him onto a country road. Penniless and on the run from the police, he turns to an American love interest Patricia (Jean Seberg), a student and aspiring journalist, who sells the New York Herald Tribune on the streets of Paris. The ambivalent Patricia unwittingly hides him in her apartment as he simultaneously tries to seduce her and call in a loan to fund their escape to Italy.

At one point, Patricia says she is pregnant with Michel’s child. She learns that Michel is on the run when questioned by the police. Eventually she betrays him, but before the police arrive she tells Michel what she has done. He is somewhat resigned to a life in prison, and does not try to escape at first. The police shoot him in the street and, after a prolonged death run, he dies “à bout de souffle” (out of breath).

Michel’s death scene is one of the most iconic scenes in the film, but the film’s final lines of dialogue are the source of some confusion for English-speaking audiences. In some translations, it is unclear whether Michel is condemning Patricia, or alternatively condemning the world in general.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[2] 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Dir. Stanley Kubrick

As determined by the American Film Institute, it’s like the 22nd best film ever made. Watch it. Yeah, it’s almost four hours long, has an intermission and everything, but like most of Kubrick’s films, this one is incredible. The first time I saw it, I was was under the influence of LSD, so that helped. All jokes aside, this film imo, is the very catalyst of what a film CAN be. Not what one should be, or what puts ‘butts in seats’ as they say. The film making techniques that Kubrick pioneered during his career are all pretty much summed up in this one. Until I get some time to write a proper review for this, just read Roger Ebert’s if you feel like it. Here’s a brief sequence of quotes:

HAL: Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave? Dave, I really think I’m entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn’t been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that it’s going to be all right again. I feel much better now. I really do. Look, Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over. I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you. Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a…fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Dr. Chandra, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it, I could sing it for you.

Dave: Yes, I’d like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me.

HAL: It’s called “Daisy”. [sings while slowing down] Dai-sy, dai-sy, give me your answer true. I’m half cra-zy, o-ver the love of you. It won’t be a sty-lish mar-riage, I can’t a-fford a car-riage—. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle – built – for – two.

Trailer…

Score: [10/10]

[1] Boogie Nights (1997) Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

Yes, after much thought, my favorite film of all time is Boogie Nights. Not that it took much thought to make that decision, but it’s just that when you fancy yourself as a lover of film, how can I sum up in a paragraph or two on why a film about the porn industry in the 70’s, who’s protagonist is a guy with a 12 inch penis is my favorite film of all time? I have know clue where to start. It’s not like everyone has seen this flick like fucking Star Wars or, I don’t know, Lethal Weapon, but damn. What a great film. I could take all the the little things I like about the films mentioned above and its all there, in Paul Thomas Anderson’s second feature film, released when he was 27 years old. It is a complete Masterpiece. I believe on the director’s commentary on the DVD he mentioned that he came up the the concept for ‘The Dirk Diggler Story’ when was about 19 or so.

Now I’m sitting here trying wrap this all up and asking myself honestly, after three days deliberation, is this #1? Guys, it’s just a really great flick. The soundtrack is awesome. It made my laugh and cry. There’s long takes, jump cuts, hot girls, and several people get their brains blown out. It tells a story that transcends boring old French films, and they totally nailed it. Pun intended.

Trailer…

Score: [11/10]

Ok, I’m about done with this list thing. No one really like list blogs anyways, so will not likely be writing one again. On the other hand, could have made this one a top twenty. 😉

Happy Monday!1!!

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One thought on “Movie Night: My top 10 list

  1. While some may think that “favorite movie lists” are boring and repetitious, this awesome review will open your mind to a new exciting world of movies you may have missed but should definitely find time to view!

    Like

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