alphabetical order...but without limiting myself to ten:
In my mind, the most desirable woman ever put on
An inconsequential story, I forget the
plot. But thirty years later I still remember how much I liked
movie has nothing whatever to do with Brazil. This movie is a
scene out of the future. This movie is
That's all I'll say about it, so I don't ruin
An Australian film from
1980 that I first saw in 2004, yet relevant as ever during civilization's current struggle with anarchy.
wonderful screenplay, gorgeous camera work.
CITY OF LIFE AND
About the Japanese occupation of Nanjing, China, in
1937-1938. China's Pearl Harbor.
children to bed before you put this one on.
like me, you may have a hard time falling asleep.
DIVIDED WE FALL.
A 2001 Czech film
that brings the Nazi invasion to the personal level.
depressing (though one moment, recounted by David, horribly
painful), at times even funny, this movie has a great story and
fine actors able to bring it to life.
THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE
KILLERS, OR PARDON ME, BUT YOUR TEETH ARE IN MY NECK.
I'm not a
ghoul fan; there are too many real
monsters in our world
(pedophiles, Islamists bombing civilians, Stalins, Hitlers,
Pol Pots, African dictators) to make seeking out invented ones more than a little
But this Roman Polanski mixture of horror and comedy is
special to me. I first
saw it in 1969 on a small Army signal site in the middle of a Thai
where it helped me imagine for a short time that I was shivering
in a Transylvania winter.
A few years ago I found a copy of the
movie on DVD. It still brings shivers, and it's still hilarious.
JEAN DE FLORRETE / MANON OF THE SPRING.
movies, each which can stand on its own, but best seen
together. Storytelling as only film can do. Heartwarming,
for those of us who still aren't jaded and cynical.
THIS IS SPINAL TAP
WAITING FOR GUFFMAN BEST IN
SHOW A MIGHTY WIND
Written, acted or directed by Christopher Guest, these
mockumentaries share an ensemble cast of comedic improvisation
greats: Harry Shearer, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Dillard, Parker
Posey, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, John Michael Higgins, and
SPINAL TAP is the classic, the one to see if you must watch
only one, and especially the one if, like me, you dismiss heavy
GUFFMAN is for anyone who's ever been in a school play. Guest
gives a remarkable performance.
BEST IN SHOW is for obsessive compulsives everywhere, and
especially if they like dogs.
WIND is for those of us who loved folk music in the sixties
and later drifted away.
Released in the
early 80s, but watched just recently. Those who have seen K
probably agree it is even more relevant today (and will be
another 25 years from now, assuming we haven't blown ourselves
back to the Stone Age).
I got the movie from
Netflix only because Philip Glass, one of my Deserted Island
musicians, wrote its music. I wondered at the odd title, and
wondered what the movie would be about.
Trying not to spoil your
own experience, let me say only that the movie can be enjoyed
no matter what language you speak, that it should not be
watched while tired (the beginning is relaxing to the point of
curing insomnia), and that it demands a widescreen HDTV with the
audio coming out of your sound system.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
Mostly takes place in 1984 East Germany, before the Wall came
down, when the Stasi secret police blighted, sometimes
It's a love story and a story of human weakness. A story of
personal redemption. It's a remarkable film about a remarkable
time and place, one that all would hope never to be seen again.
(God pity the North Korean people.)
THE MAN WHO WOULD BE
produced in 1975, it wasn't until 2009 that Netflix recommended
it, mostly for my wife. She liked the movie so much she was
unable to stay in the room when the heroes were taken captive
and ... but that would spoil it for you.
Isn't that the mark of
a great film, though, that you forget it's only a movie. The
plot, dialogue and acting (Michael Caine and Sean Connery, no
less) made me forget, too.
Nair was born in India, then educated and now
lives in America.
I've seen only four of her films --
Monsoon Wedding, and
(and Kama Sutra,
a clunker) -- enough to believe she consistently gets
more out of her actors than almost any other director.
themes are universal; as in the old ad about rye bread,
you don't have to be Indian to like Mira Nair movies.
NO MAN'S LAND.
To say it just
describes an encounter in Bosnia between two antagonists would
sell this perfect movie short.
Not sure why it's not up in my Deserted Island list.
THE OMEGA MAN.
An old science
fiction film (1971) worth looking for. Like all good science
fiction, it asks the hard questions society needs to answer.
In 2007 the movie was
redone and called
I AM LEGEND.
In only one way, special effects, is the remake better. LEGEND can stand for all that is wrong with Hollywood.
A lot of money and computer generated graphics are thrown into
the pot, hoping for a good stew. It rarely happens. Watch (and enjoy)
the original to see what I mean.
what I want a movie to do: take me out of this world and put me
into another. The movie takes us into two worlds, in fact, one
of exciting fantasy, one of brutal reality.
THE PRINCESS BRIDE.
Of how many films
can it be said that three generations of a family might watch
it, and all find it delightful.
Guess I'm a romantic at heart,
and this film is for all of us who were ever young and in love.
(Or, like me, not so young and still in love.)
Didn't expect to
like it, with all those Oscars, but couldn't help myself.
PLAN. Here's an
example of the
quiet movie that draws you in and holds on tight until
the closing credits.
Will remind you of the fine film,
FARGO, but in my opinion, is better in almost every way.
Except humor. There is nothing funny about this movie.
A good film to watch with your
teenagers for a discussion
afterwards on values and integrity.
With actors who look so much like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris
that you think it's a documentary, we go back to the Yankees'
1961 season and the challenge to Ruth's famous
home run record.
But this is more than a simple sports movie. Roger Maris was,
if not hated, certainly disliked, by most of America. In truth,
and as we learn in 61*, he was a decent family man. He's who we
should have been rooting for. But who could root against Mickey
61* was made for HBO by Billy Crystal, a baseball fan, and
the love of the game, and knowledge of it, and respect for it,
is always present. The disc also has a long, wonderful special
feature about the making of the film.
As I write this, I can't think of another sports movie I like
more. That's because it's not just another sports movie. It's
about people who happen to play sports.
So laugh, yeah, Waterworld.
I put it on every five years or so. Always takes me away to
another time and place.
If you avoided it back in the '90s because of the terrible
reviews, all the better. Now sit back, and have something ready
to catch your jaw as it falls open.
WHO FRAMED ROGER
If not for an
over-long, exhausting battle at the film's end, this would be a
perfect addition to any Deserted Island list.
Almost 25 years later,
there's not another film like it, combining animation and live
actors, because it was done so well the first time.
Well, that's it for now. Check back later for additions. Even better, please send me your
own favorites: usarmycwo AT yahoo DOT com.