Saturday, February 5

Pulling Rabbits: My Favorite Movies

This post is something of an anniversary: it's the 100th post on this weblog (if you discard the whiny shit I used to put here). So for the occasion, I thought it might be nice to give you a list of my favorite movies ever. This is not a list of the greatest or even necessarily the best movies ever. You might call it my own personal canon. I can heartily recommend every single one of these movies, and will probably write about some of them in the future.

So, let's start from the bottom and work our way up to the top.

20: Waking Life (Linklater, 2001) 
The most recent entry into my list, and probably the strangest. But it's also a testament of what film is truly capable of if you overstep the boundaries of your assumptions.

19: Trois Couleurs: Blue (Kieslowski, 1993)
The first part of a magnificent trilogy, and in my mind the best. A movie about music, about how life always comes knocking on your door and about mourning. But mostly about freedom, and what it exactly means. A very peaceful movie, which moves you without really giving you any incentive to.

18: V For Vendetta (McTeigue, 2006)
One of the few movies that understands what "adaptation" means: translating an impression into another medium. It might not follow the letter of the book, but if follows the spirit with all its heart. An exciting and shockingly relevant view on repression, which had a lot more going on then you might think.

17: Sin City (Rodriguez, 2005)
Violence was never so stylish or so cool. Over-the-top, grueling and visually dazzling, this stands as one of the major triumphs of "the cinephiles cinema", movies made by and for filmnerds.

16: Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki, 1997)
Although there is a lot of love to be found in the works of Miyazaki, this is one of his few pictures in which there is genuine hatred. But, of course, it only makes the movie better by making the struggle harder and the opposing factions more humanly flawed. Not to mention the simply gorgeous animation.

15: The Kid (Chaplin, 1921)
Some things just never get old. It might not be the most ambitious of Chaplins movies, but it's without a doubt the most lovable one.

14: Amélie (Jeunet, 2001)
Quite possibly the most fondly remembered movie in recent memory. The timeless tale of a girl looking for love has enough warmth to be thoroughly lovable and enough quirk (the porn shop) to not be sentimental.

13: Juno (Reitman, 2007)
When my grandchildren will ask me how life was like when I was a teenager, I will show them this movie. It might be a little too self-aware for some, but self-awareness seems to be something we're very good in lately.

12: Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky: 2001)
The following conversation actually took place.

A Friend: "What would be good drinking games for movies?"
Me: "You could take a shot every time you want to kill yourself while watching Requiem for a Dream"
A Friend: "Then you'd drink yourself to death"
Another Friend: "Win-win!"

11: Fight Club (Fincher, 1999)
This just might be a movie where every single man alive can relate to in some way. Some see it as a manifesto for a new masculinity, others see it as a deeply ironic statement about the state of society and others see it as a reflection upon how women have come to regard men. Yet in every one of those guys, it wakes something primal. 

10: Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009)
This might seem an odd choice, as so many people herald Pulp Fiction as Tarantino's masterpiece. But I just like this one more. It's more mature and less gimmicky, while doing all the things we've come to know and love of Quentin.

9: Full Metal Jacket (Kubrick, 1987)
In A Clockwork Orange, we see how an insane and perverted mind ravages through an eerily familiar urban landscape. It's a haunting vision: we see the clash of what we call civilization with something truly rotten. But in Full Metal Jacket, we see something even more haunting: how such a mind comes to be. It's a war film, but much more so a film about people in a situation that is basically a free-for-all. It ain't pretty, but no-one ever claimed war was.

8: Synecdoche, New York (Kaufman, 2008)
I am very much in love with the work of Charlie Kaufman. He is one of the few writers working today who is both willing to shake things up and deliver films that just scream "clever", and this quality is never more apparent then in Synecdoche. It might not be to everyone's taste, but you can't deny the sheer balls-to-the-wallness of the artistic statement that is being made here.

7: The Virgin Suicides (Coppola, 1999)
Another unlikely choice. But as much as I liked Lost in Translation, it pales in comparison to the raw power of The Virgin Suicides. It's one of the few movies I know that is both powerful and very complex, although the latter isn't immediately apparent. Try watching it for a second time and constantly reminding yourself that the whole picture is basically the recollection that the boys have of the situation, and everything immediately gets a lot more layered. Also, scored by Air. Can't beat that.

6: Finding Nemo (Stanton, 2003)
Of all the Pixarmovies, this wins on sheer nostalgia value. But it could have been any of them, really. The magic of Pixar is still somewhat of a mystery to me (how do they keep appealing to children, teenager, adults AND critics?), but it's a mystery I'm perfectly fine not unraveling. It's amazing filmmaking, simple as that, and sometimes you just have to let go and enjoy.

5: Rejected (Hertzfeldt, 2000)
The sheer entertainment value of this animated short is hard to explain. Imagine the following: you're sort of drunk, someone gets up and extends his arms, and shouts "MAH SPOON IS TOO BIG".

No? Oh well.

4: The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont, 1994)
This movie made me realize how good movies could actually get, and after all these years it's still a fond memory. It might be a tad sentimental, but just try not to be moved when Red and Andy hug on the beach.

3: Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942)
Quite possibly the most loved film in the world after The Wizard of Oz, this movie is good from every which way you look at it. A killer story? Check. One of the best romances ever? Check. A great supporting cast? Check. Music, sets, atmosphere: check, check, check. It's a movie you just feel part of every time you watch it.

2: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Sharman, 1975)
If there's ever a movie with the words "guilty pleasure" written across it in glowing neon lights, this is it. It's not a great film by any measure, and in many areas it's just plain bad. But there is an irresistible mischief going on at all times, which makes it so much fun to watch. Sing along: "Science fiction, oe-a-oe, Double Feature"...

1: I'm Not There (Haynes, 2007)
This is it. The big one. I've seen this movie over 20 times now, and not once have I doubted that this is the greatest movie I've ever seen. If Casablanca is my egomovie, and Rocky Horror is pure id, this is my Super-ego. It represents everything I love about film, and was in fact the reason I irretrievably fell in love with the medium. This movie is more then just a part of my back catalogue: it's part of who I am. My decision to study film was made after watching this movie, and every time I doubt that decision I'm Not There shows me what I'm doing it all for.

Here's me digging you, sir.


I've just put everything... in it's right place.

Okay, so I actually couldn't think of anything else besides The Final Countdown. Sue me.

1 comment:

  1. Great list Alias!
    I haven't seen a lot of those movies, but i definitely have to see some (or all, ofcourse!)

    And about "everything in it's right place": best Radiohead song ever made, great choice.
    Greetings, Jorg