Monday, July 23, 2007

32 Films I Take With Me (20-15)

20. Fletch (1985)

I was only ten when the funniest movie I'd ever see was released in theatres, and I don't recall seeing it until at least 5 years later, but it is well documented how much I love this movie. I keep choosing these doctored photos of movies, but this one with the Babar picture in the background still captures a very funny scene. I would say I'm a huge Chevy Chase fan except it is really only in this movie where I feel like they capture and utilize his stone-faced humour. Each character he portrays is funnier than the last and I just love how he plays with people and doesn't care if anyone gets his jokes. I find myself often using lines from this movie in everyday conversation and not caring if anyone laughs (or even knows its a joke). There are only a half dozen or so people out there who will recognize what I'm talking about, and I salute each of them.

19. Bowling for Columbine (2002) I am not a huge fan of the overtly manipulative documentary style of Michael Moore, but this one is probably the least politicized of his films and therefore maybe the purest. I'm not sure he nailed the "answer" for Columbine but he definitely nailed us with the question and exposed the depth of the problem. I remember shaking my head over Columbine, and then even more over the reaction to Columbine which sought to distance the rest of us normal humans from the demonic characters who committed the atrocities. Surely they did get swept up in wickedness and it is awful that they did what they did. But I appreciate that Moore dug deeper and instead of questioning those two disturbed individuals, examined the culture in which they grew up so disturbed. Although I try to give Charlton Heston the benefit of the doubt, he sure came off looking a far cry from Moses in this film. And perhaps the scene that most sticks with me is the interview with Marilyn Manson. The guy scares me to be honest (and I imagine that's what he's going for), but it was a moment I'll never forget when Moore asked him what he'd say to those two shooters if he had the chance. He said he'd listen to them. What a great answer. It sends indiscernible shivers up my spine.

18. The Green Mile (1999)

This film adaptation of the great Stephen King story has an almost cartoonish quality to it, the way the characters are portrayed. But I am a sucker for a story having a "Christ-figure" and the one in this story is maybe one of the most interesting I've seen. His mammoth size shows that meekness is something other than wimpiness. His care for others shows gentleness to be force under control. The list could go on. I love how these prison guards have to deal with and come to grips with the miracles they are seeing. I am moved by how they grapple with the innocence of this man and yet can't stop the tragedy. I'm not sure if this one has had a huge impact on me in the sense that it taught me stuff or showed me things for the first time, but not all influences are epiphanies. I just really connected with it and took it to heart as an all time favourite and that's why it's here.

17. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

As long as I live I may not forget the closing scenes of this movie in which the Ark of the Covenant is opened and the wrath of God is poured out on the irreverent. I can clearly recall the dark brown couch I was sitting on in our Terrace BC living room as a youth when my Dad allowed me to stay up late and watch this on TV. My eyes must have been golf balls. I was never the same. Besides being the best action adventure that will ever be made, Raiders of the Lost Ark opened my eyes to the sheer vividness of such things as good and evil, courage, holiness, reverence, power, and mystery. These were words I had read and concepts I'd been introduced to, but maybe never really thought about, felt, or seen. I probably don't even realize how much this movie has informed my life. Its influence on me has biblical proportions! It was perfect that the movie ended with the Ark being put in storage, as seen above.

The next two films both re-enact real-time events in my lifetime that are themselves going to be hard-wired into most of us for as long as we live. There are a lot of films that try to capture these types of events on screen for us, especially on TV, but most of them diminish the significance of the event and make it seem trite and forgettable, I find. These two do the opposite, and it is because they are so well done.

16. United 93 (2006)

United 93 in particular has been one that I've thought about a lot ever since I saw it in Winnipeg last spring. It is so real. The heroes depicted in the photo above want nothing to do with what they are about to do, but they have no choice and so they step up. For all the movies about heroes, this is the first time I really ever felt like I saw true courage on screen. I think only people who are feeling out of their league can have courage. Surely this movie makes us wonder if we'd have the guts to step up in such a situation but on the drive home from this movie I went on a rant to my two friends about how none of us has to wait until our plane is hijacked for such an opportunity. We face these choices every day. Life is huge. Step up or cave. I am so inspired by this film. Beautifully directed. And true. Amazing. Poignant treatment of a complex event too. The scene which interplays between the terrorists and hostages each praying is maybe the defining scene of our times.

15. Hotel Rwanda (2004)

After watching this movie I was saddened that it was pretty much the first time I ever remembered hearing, or at least noticing, the genocide in Rwanda. I went out and bought Romeo D'Allaire's account of the story (he is the Canadian UN officer played by Nolte pictured above) and was deeply moved. I have tended to lean hard on pacifism and this movie and this book changed my mind. I am still what I'd call a pacifist but I now see a place for a well-trained military and am a huge fan of the concept of the UN and wish for Canada to lead the way as peacekeepers in our world. Another thing I really take from this is that sense you get watching it that the murderers with the guns are absolute cowards and pansies. This story is one of the greatest tragedies of my lifetime and this film deepened my awareness of depravity, showed me again the fine line between evil and complicence to evil, and convinced me again of the courage and power and extreme difficulty of being a true peacemaker. It is bound to hurt (and again, the thoughts conjurred up are of Christ).

I guess I hit on some themes with this batch. I didn't realize I was doing that when I formed my list. I guess I can't help but preach eh?


Tony Tanti said...

Comedy, action, drama. This list is getting better and better. I really thought you'd have Fletch higher than that.

I haven't seen United 93 but I keep hearing it is great which surprises me somehow.

jon or angie said...

just like the oscars, comedies can't get any respect.

united 93 its all about the director. it is so well done. so different as a movie, let alone the fact that it is a true story and all that. see it. you'll be glad you did.