Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Top Ten

I thought I should kick off the blog with a list of favorite films.  These are my top ten for this current moment, which you will understand if you are like me and your favorites constantly change with time, mood, weather, etc.  However, I find myself always coming back to these films.  So, in no particular order:

1.  The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Dir. Jonathan Demme) - I love this movie for its creepiness, for its stellar acting, and for its memorable screenplay.  Any film that can show an at-home instant gender change is fine by me.  I also love how there is a constant struggle that Clarice endures in trying to prove herself as a woman in a field dominated by men, but it's not always put in to the forefront in a "woe is me" kind of way.

2.  Super Fly (1972, Dir. Gordon Parks Jr.) - I have a lot to say about this film, mostly because this is the kind of movie that often gets overlooked in terms of brilliance.  Super Fly benefited from being released during the height of Blaxploitation popularity, which meant that it reached theaters late enough to garner large ticket sales, but early enough to still maintain true Blaxploitation style (later releases became Blaxploitation knock-offs just made to take advantage of sales and its popularity).  The audience is introduced to the poverty and state of turmoil in New York City from the film's opening with a long shot of a Harlem street corner slowly panning in.  Many aspects of the movie convey serious social issues that sometimes go overlooked because of the general essence of "cool" it exudes.  Also, I will boldly state that I believe this soundtrack is the greatest ever made.

3.  Fargo (1996, Dir. Joel Coen) - The Coens provide a well written, well executed tall tale with unforgettable characters in Fargo.  I especially like to compare Marge Gunderson to Clarice Starling, who may even be friends in the faraway land of cross-genres.  The dark humor in Fargo is absolutely addictive, and I picked this film because it was my first Coen experience, and since then, I have been hooked.  These brothers have double-handedly made the Midwest interesting. 

4.  Pulp Fiction (1994, Dir. Quentin Tarantino) - It has come to the point where one has to defend oneself when admitting to liking this movie (especially in film school).  I understand why many do not like QT.  He is pretentious.  He does steal from many movies past.  Who doesn't?  But that's actually one of the reasons why I love this movie.  For pop culture geeks like myself, Pulp Fiction becomes a cinematic I-Spy where I can play along and try to spot references each time I watch it.  I find humor in looking at the Operation board game lingering in the background while the adrenaline shot is being administered by amateurs.  I understand that the glowing briefcase is directly from Kiss Me Deadly (1955, Robert Aldrich), so the question of "what's in it?!" is in no way original.  But I don't care.  The conversational dialogue in this film is classic and I love everything about it.

5.  The Goonies (1985, Richard Donner) - You know those movies that you've seen 186853 times, yet every time it's showing on TV you have to watch it again?  That is The Goonies for me.  It's a childhood favorite of mine.  I grew up as an imaginative only child, so pirate adventures in hidden caves was the ultimate fantasy for me.  I always wanted to explore and discover, and I used to make treasure maps (side note: I REALLY hope today's children never lose that sense of wonder now that they are born with iPads attached to their palms).  Anyway, Chunk's movie theater story alone is worth watching this movie.

6.  The Breakfast Club (1985, John Hughes) - One of my highest interests in film is the portrayal of adolescence.  It's a difficult age where we battle with holding on to the wonder of childhood while trying to establish ourselves as responsible adults.  Films that successfully capture this feeling are favorites of mine, and The Breakfast Club may do it better than any other.  These years are pivotal, and they are the first years we start to seek inward and try to discover ourselves and in doing so, try to set our paths for the future.  That warm feeling I get when thinking about being young, optimistic, nostalgic, melodramatic, and carefree yet deeply pensive will forever be incapsulated in this movie.  What a gem.

7.  Sunset Blvd (1950, Billy Wilder) - Hollywood has an interesting way of discarding an actor once he or she gets older, while still holding on to past images for the sense of nostalgia and glamour.  I love how Sunset Blvd shows the viewer the not-so-glamorous side of Hollywood.  The decay and pain that drove Norma Desmond mad captivated me from the first time I saw this film.  I also love the photography of it, and I think it gives a great sense of the Hollywood that is rarely seen.

8.  The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942, William Keighley) - I would put this film against most comedies made today with confidence that many would prefer this one.  The cast performs this rapid dialogue brilliantly.  Stupid viewers need not apply.  Sorry.  Each line just shoots after the other, so one must pay close attention to hear each beautifully written line.  Also, the plot just becomes ridiculous, which is totally fine with me.  That's the point of movies.  I don't have to watch realistic events all the time.  If I did, I'd be staring out of my window, which is not entertaining.  Bette Davis is great, and Monty Woolley absolutely steals the show.  He takes the art of insulting to an unreached plateau by anyone else thus far.  Watch it and agree.

9.  A Raisin in the Sun (1961, Daniel Petrie) - There is nothing in this film that is not excellent.  A man dares to dream in a society that tells him to settle for complacency.  A family tries to hold on to what is right while living in times that diminish their quality of living because of race and economic status.  The cast is so talented, they elevate emotional involvement to the point where the viewer's eyes are glued to the screen.  Don't watch the P. Diddy version.

10.  True Romance (1993, Tony Scott) - I am continually surprised at how many people haven't seen this movie.  Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Michael Rapaport and even Brad Pitt all lend their incredible talents to Quentin Tarantino's screenplay of what I think may be the coolest love story ever.

And there you have it.  I hope this list helps you get a better sense of how I cinematically roll.  Till next time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


And here we are.  The time has come for me to join millions of bloggers and send my cinephile thoughts of small importance into the e-world with hopes of feedback and general movie conversation.  I've decided that this blog will be posts of lists: ten films or aspects of film dedicated to different subjects (never in ranking order).  I'll have lists of actors, directors, costume designers, genres, and much more.  These lists will be my personal favorites, which is no attempt to list the ten greatest anything of all time.  I am not that pretentious...on this blog.

I spend about 76% of my day thinking about cinema and making these lists in my head anyway, so it's about time I get it in text.  I'm a film student, so I hope to learn from anyone who will pay this humble blog attention, and maybe along the way I can show others a thing or two.