Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Movies You Should See, Part 1

(Part 1 of 5, in alphabetical order)

Amelie - One of the first things you’ll notice about this list is it’s very American-centric, so it’s a good thing I’m starting with a French film, lest you think I’m uneducated. The fact that I’m not the biggest fan of foreign films should help illustrate just how much I love this movie. Despite what my girlfriend says, it’s not just because I have a crush-let on Audrey Tautou. I love modern movies that present themselves as fairy tales, without losing the honesty behind the characters. The only other example that rolls of my brain is “The Illusionist.” Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a master of turning sometimes tragic tales into rich fables. From start to finish, Amelie sucks you in and leaves you with a warm feeling when you leave.

The American President - To say this a romantic comedy or a political movie is to totally miss the point. Aaron Sorkin’s skewed view of love and politics is just a vehicle for his lyrical dialogue. This movie has lines that go beyond quotable into the realm of real depth. This man clearly as a lot to say and he knows how to speak through his characters. His jokes, too, skate the line of high brow and low brow comedy, like pies in the face for smart people.

Back to the Future (Parts I and II) - I saw Part 2 several years before I saw Part 1. Even without the benefit of the first movie, I could tell the scenes where Marty and Doc return to 1955 were something special. The stuff in 2015 was flashy and a fun piece of comedic prophesizing (I want my damn hover board), but re-visiting exact scenes from a previous movie was something that had never been done before. Also never been done before in a mainstream movie was the plotline about time travel creating alternate dimensions. These two ideas are common place in time travel storytelling nowadays, but the fact they started in this goofy trilogy that started as a clever fish out of water comedy make these two movies important to anyone’s movie knowledge.

Batman (1989) / The Dark Knight - Two movies, about the same subject, about the same interaction, told in two completely different universes. What happens when Batman, the ultimate symbol of unflinching seriousness meets the whimsical anarchy of The Joker. Comic book canon aside, Burton made a bold choice making The Joker the one who killed Batman’s parents, and as a result, he was allowed to make the darkest version of the story as studios would have allowed in 1989. Nearly 10 years later, Adam West’s inspired camp devolved into BatClooney, and from that movie's backlash, we could finally have the serious Batman we deserve. The Dark Knight is the culmination of a 20-year Batman image re-vamp, and the result is one of the smartest, most thought-provoking movies of our time.

Cecil B. Demented - There is absolutely no reason why I should like this movie. I’m not a fan of John Waters. I whole-heartedly disagree with the main character’s view of filmmaking and his opinion of popular movies. Most of all, I hate movies about movie-making. I think a lot of filmmakers have their heads in their asses, and you give them a pulpit to talk about how great they are at their jobs and how oppressive studios are, they will throw 2-hour masturbation at you. This movie manages to get around that and make the film about the fun of filmmaking. These misfits have nothing else, and the joy telling their cheesy story brings them is worth the price of admission.

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