I’m sure it’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves. If we were stranded on a desert island, and could only take a set amount of things with us, what would they be? Now, before we go any further, I just want to point out that I’m not so shallow that I will only take movies with me to the island; it’s for the purposes of the article. I know there are more important things out there, and, yes, I do love movies but... I’m kinda working myself into a rut here, so, SUBJECT CHANGE! Andy Hart over at Fandango Groovers is hosting this event, which calls for people to come up with the end all, be all of movie lists. What are the eight movies you could not live without? A lot of people are taking part and giving there opinions. This is mine.
Before we begin, let me say something real quick. These might not be my favorite movies of all time. These eight films make this list because I admire them so. They pushed boundaries, came up with new and risky ideas, pulled them off with flying colors, or affected me in ways that most people would have trouble admitting. Just because I liked a movie doesn’t mean it’s worthy of my veneration. Ok, so, with that out of the way...
1. 28 Days Later...: Before 28 Days Later... zombie movies were fast becoming dumb, boring, gore filled, snooze fests that we only went to to laugh at the idiocy of the still living people on screen. 28 Days Later... gave the genre the massive jolt of adrenaline that it needed. This terrifying, unsettling, completely plausible piece of horror still sticks with me today whenever I watch it, despite the fact that it came out over six years ago. From the haunting images of a deserted London, to the bloodcurdling shriek of the infected, this is a movie that will haunt your nightmares. Also, the zombies run. They don’t shuffle any more; they run! So scary!
2. (500) Days of Summer: If you have read any of my other posts, you already know how I feel about this movie. I don’t care if other people think that it’s just an average romantic comedy; I don’t care if they think that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel have been better in other things; I just don’t care! To me, (500) Days of Summer is the definition of a perfect romantic comedy; funny, touching, well written, well acted, consitesntly entertaining whilst always staying grounded in reality. (500) Days of Summer, like High Fidelity before it, stabs at you in ways other movies can only dream of, cheers you up in ways that other movies find impossible, and touches you as only the best of the business can. I’m in love with this movie. I don’t know how to put it any other way.
3. Apocalypse Now: Hands down the best war movie ever, in my opinion. Sure, Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down were probably the most realistic in terms of the violence, and Full Metal Jacket and The Hurt Locker do a slightly better job of delving into the psyches of the soldiers fighting. But none of them, none of them, left me as shaken and disturbed as Apocalypse Now. This mad crazy brilliant study of madness and fear left me with some seriously fucked up nightmares when I first saw it. From the very first minute, where you hear Jim Morrison crooning, “This is the end,” over the image of burning rainforest, to the unsettling ending that sees Martin Sheen driving his boat back down the river into Vietnam, his mission complete, Apocalypse Now grabs you and never lets go until you have experienced all the twisted things it has in store for you.
4. The Dark Knight: To call The Dark Knight a comic book film is to do it a disservice. It is a crime thriller, taking place in a city where there happens to be a man who dresses like a bat and fights crime. Here is blockbuster that thrills as well as disturbs and provokes thought. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal all play their roles to perfection, but it's Heath Ledger's stroke of genius turn as the Joker that will stick with you for days on end. The superhero genre is officially legitimate! Thanks Batman!
5. The Departed: Martin Scorcese’s best film over the last decade is also one of the most ingenious crime thrillers ever conceived. This mind bender of a cops and crooks thriller, adapted from the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs is a sight to behold. Martin Scorcese worked his ass on this film and earned that overdue Oscar. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon turn in career best performances, Vera Farmiga stepped into the spotlight and declared herself a major talent, Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg are righteous hoots as foul mouthed cops, and Jack Nicholson played the villain again, and had oh-so-much-fun doing it! Haters can shut it! This film earned every spec of praise it received!
6. The Godfather: Masterfully directed, impeccably scripted, brilliantly acted, and who’d of known it was adapted from one of the pulpiest novels of the 20th century. The Godfather had no right being as good as it is, but, with director Francis Ford Coppola, and stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall, a less then spectacular novel was turned into something extraordinary. Out of pure camp, you have not only the best crime epic of all time, but the best movie ever made!
7. Pulp Fiction: Speaking of pulp, here’s a film that celebrates and revels in it. Quentin Tarantino exploded on the scene with this one, winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Tarantino pioneered a new type of dialogue, where characters just spew complete and total bullshit on there way to big, important, events. Hilarious, thought provoking, and completely fresh and original, there’s only one bad thing that came about as a result of Pulp Fiction, and that is hundreds of writers who think they can emulate Tarantino’s dialogue by inserting pop culture references and swear words. As Roger Ebert so eloquently put it, “They know the words, but not the music.” Tarantino is the master of his dialogue, and nowhere is that more apparent then in Pulp Fiction, his unquestionable masterpiece.
8. Se7en: Easily the scariest film on this list, Se7en is movie conceived from nightmares. Is it at times psychologically terrifying as the enigmatic John Doe justifies all the people he’s killed, horrifying as we see what became of the victim of sloth, and “hold the person next to you” chilling when you realize what’s in the box. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are superb as the cops who see their lives crumble as the search feverishly for the killer who chooses his victims based on the seven deadly sins. It’s well written, has a wonderful, grim atmosphere, and some of the most disturbing, grisly scenes of murder and torture to ever be put on screen. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Director David Fincher may be known for crafting bombs out of soap, or making a man age backwards, but this is, without a doubt, his best work to date.
There you have it. The eight films that, if I was stranded on a desert island, or if a nuclear holocaust swept across the world, I could not live without. I’m not the only one taking part in this event. To see what my fellow bloggers put on their lists, click here. Thanks for indulging me as rationalize my craziness. See you next time.