Monday, November 08, 2010

My Favorite Movies

I'm the worst blogger on the planet. Ok, maybe not the WORST... Still, I really need to start updating this thing more than once every 2 months.

Anyway, so I've been thinking about movies lately (when am I not?). There are certain movies that you love for no other reason than because you are supposed to love them (I'm thinking here of classics and prestige pictures that don't really have any personal significance but sound nice to name as your favorite films. Also you specifically say that they are among your favorite "films" not "movies" because you think sounds classier but really makes you sound like a tool). There are also those movies that are your favorite of the year or favorite of the decade or favorite of a particular genre. But picking all time favorite movies is actually sort of difficult. Can a movie you saw last year REALLY be your favorite movie of all time? Does anybody REALLY love "The Dark Knight" THAT much? I mean... maybe. It is entirely possible that there are movies that you see and immediately decide that they are personal favorites.

For me, I think a truly favorite movie is one of those movies you almost know by heart, and remains in your high esteem even after you've grown up or changed in your circumstances. Also, significantly, your association with this movie needs to be an emotional one. I've seen "Zoolander" plenty of times, and can quote a ton of lines, but by no means is this a favorite movie, or even an almost favorite. A favorite movie for me is something different, something special. Sometimes favorite movies change. I know mine have. Back when I was in college a favorite of mine was "The Apartment." I still love that movie. It is well acted, its funny, its dark. But, the "me" today is different from the 19 year old girl that loved that movie. I used to say that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was among my favorites. I still love them, I still watch them on TNT even when they repeat them 3 times in the same weekend (three chances to watch!), but I just can't say that they are my favorite of all time anymore.

Ok... so with all that being said, on to my 5 favorite movies (for now). This list isn't ranked. Trying to figure out which is my 3rd favorite or 4th favorite is pretty pointless. The majority of the movies on this list have been my favorite since I was about 13. That, I think, is another sign that they are really my REAL favorites and not some fly by night movie that sneaks in under the radar. So in no particular order:

The Princess Bride

This is really a perfect movie in a lot of ways. It has the brilliant simplicity of a well crafted fairy tale, but is also subtly (and not so subtly) subversive of the fairy tale/ adventure genre. It has humor without being overtly crass. There is a timeless quality to it, even though it was made in the 80s, because it lacks the pop culture references of, say, "Shrek," though its sensibilities are decidedly more modern than an older adventure story. Sure, ok, Fred Savage's video game and bedroom are a bit dated, but that's such a minor part of the film as a whole. The special effects for a fantasy are decidedly minimal and unobtrusive. A film like "Willow" which came out only a year after "Princess Bride" has aged far worse in my opinion. Maybe it was never really as good a movie, but some of the "badness" is certainly because of the glaringly 80s special effects. It is more watchable than "The Labyrinth," another "almost favorite" of mine, mostly due to the fact that it is so darn well written, and while its cheekiness is akin at times to a Mel Brooks movie, it never crosses the line into full parody and so remains charmingly innocent and self aware at the same time.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

My favorite of the Indiana Jones trilogy (I will NEVER accept Crystal Skull as part of the real canon). While Raiders of the Lost Ark had a stronger female lead and no "Jesus stuff," Last Crusade will always win out in my mind entirely because of the chemistry between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. It made the movie. In fact, just seeing them on screen together bumbling about would be a movie I would watch, even if it didn't have Nazi killing and secret passages and my favorite library scene in a movie of all time. Funny, exciting, just plain brilliant. If real archaeology was like this, I would have actually done something with my major in college instead of becoming a librarian. Escapist? Yeah, sure. As much as I enjoy "Inglorious Basterds," this is THE Nazi killing film, even more so than "Raiders." Oh and have I mentioned how much I love Sean Connery? This is the ultimate movie to watch if I'm bored on a Saturday afternoon, and I will never get tired of watching it.

The Philadelphia Story

Simply put, the best romantic comedy of all time. I seriously can't stand modern romantic comedies because they glorify romance or satisfy some bored housewife's wish fulfillment. Philadelphia Story does neither. It is so well written that you forget that people actually used to be able to speak so articulately even when they were drunk. Also Cary Grant is just a dream. C.K. Dexter Haven is by no means the ideal man, but neither is he the boorish lout that the leading lady eventually "changes" for the better or loves unconditionally, ignoring all his faults. He is a flawed man, and Tracy is a flawed woman and together they make a flawed couple that you couldn't possibly manage not being married to each other. Here I show a bit of bias. I've always enjoyed the Hepburn/ Grant pairing (also seen in "Bringing up Baby" and "Holiday") far more than I ever enjoyed Hepburn/ Spencer Tracy. In part I think this is because I really love the flighty, silly Hepburn more than the characters she plays in films like "Woman of the Year" and "Desk Set." Of course Jimmy Stewart is just wonderful and you can't forget the supporting characters like Dinah and Uncle Willy. So well acted, so well written... I wish they still made movies with this caliber of performance.

Muppets Take Manhattan

So I actually just added this one onto my favorites list after watch it again the other day. While the first "Muppet Movie" is the more iconic, and more beloved I think in its quirkiness and down right oddity, I've always enjoyed "Muppets Take Manhattan" more because it already has established the group as a family and you don't have to get bogged down by origin story. You already know who all the Muppets are, you don't need introductions and so you can move along to a truly sweet and heartfelt story of dreams and disappointments, separation, self discovery, and ultimately, love. I've also found that the celebrity guests are far less gimmicky than in the original Muppet Movie, and not as obtrusive. I can understand that people who are big fans of the Muppet Show might not like "Muppets Take Manhattan" because in some ways it does "neuter" the characters, rendering them all so charming and earnest, even Miss Piggy, whereas on television there were a bit more subversive. But I like it better for that, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.


Hah! Look I just broke my movie that came out 2 years ago rule, but in this case I have to make an exception. I freaking love" WALL-E." I love it to pieces. I love that its a romance about robots, I love that the first like 30 minutes are basically a silent film, I love that its a message movie without being TOO heavy handed (though it is at times). I love the closing credits! I love the little cockroach! I love the big floating squishy people, though I actually would have been happier if the movie was 100% robot with no people at all. Anyway, here is one of those movies where my emotional association will never, can never be separated from my viewing experience. You see, I saw this movie opening weekend. More specifically, I saw this movie with my parents and my brother and my future husband the day before we were married. My memories of my wedding weekend will always be associated with this movie. When I got nervous, or just wanted to connect with Jesse throughout the wedding, and still to this day, I would make my hand into a little robot claw and he would hold it like WALL-E and EVE. It was hands down, the most perfect movie to see at that particular moment. Though it has its flaws, and what movie doesn't, it is still a timeless and beautiful classic. It also doesn't hurt that I love "Hello, Dolly" too.

So what have we learned? I'm a romantic and a kid at heart. Sue me.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Let's just say that Wall-E is possibly one of the best made films of all time. I couldn't care less about what year it came out, it was a classic from inception (which is also a great movie, but Wall-E was just so dang good!). I love that it gives me another excuse to listen to Hello, Dolly without actually having to deal with Barbara Streisand or Carol Channing for a couple of hours :)