Wednesday, July 18, 2007

32 Films I Take With Me (30-26)

30. Instinct (1999)
The five movies I’m about to reveal from the 32 Films I Take With Me may all seem unlikely choices for various reasons. This one is a forgotten picture which I think very few people saw, despite the presence of Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding, Jr, not to mention Donald Sutherland. But something about it really grabbed me. Granted, this story was a bit recycled. Another prison saga. But what I loved was the dialogue between Hopkins and Gooding which tackled such things as the concept of freedom and human dominion of the earth. I have often shown clips from this film in public presentations to drive home powerful points. So I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I do take this one with me.

29. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

It would be pretentious to share this list and ignore comedies. How can I pretend they have not impacted me? I've seen this one hundreds of times with my family it seems, and it may be one of our greatest bonds actually. It gave us many inside jokes and provided much of the comedic lingo for the supper table and beyond. Furthermore, it managed what comedies normally don’t—it had a well-told and touching story. It was subtle rather than preachy, but it drove home that juxtaposition of the classes in a human way that I have always carried with me. Imagine if every homeless person got paired up with a high-flying executive for one crazy road trip. I’m not sure what would be better about that: the comedic value or what it might change about our society. Anyway, for me this film is legendary.

28. The Sound of Music (1965)

Another family classic. I’d be lying if I didn’t put this on my list. It was one of the first movies I remember being allowed to stay up late for, and usually around Christmas time, so the nostalgia is priceless. And it is a great film, no doubt about it. I think it introduced me early on to the concept of righteous civic disobedience, which likely prepared me somewhat for what some of my family would do when I was in grade 8. I must confess that growing up I would have denied loving this movie, but once I was a bit more secure in my "manhood", or whatever, I freely admitted it as one of my all time favs. I hate musicals, generally, but love every song in this one. Maybe it even gave me a love of music, I don’t know. The guys ended up singing one of the songs from this soundtrack at my wedding reception (as a joke). Made 10 years before I was born, the Sound of Music is a part of me in many ways.

27. Twelve Angry Men (1957 or 97)

I don’t know. This one has always had a soft spot in my heart. I love how they all want to convict the easy target and get home but one guy gets them to turn around and see the truth. This movie has sort of become the visual narrative in my head that expresses a maxim I try to live by: Choose to assume the best of people, rather than the worst. Sure, you end up looking naive and you get utterly disappointed fairly often, but it is better to be disappointed than perpetually judgmental and pessimistic. I love both versions of this film. The old one is probably the better one, but Jack Lemmon is awesome in the "Tony Danza" version. It has long been a secret dream of mine to be an actor in a stage performance of this story. Maybe when I'm 62.

26. Signs (2002)

This film has always been one of my favorites but wasn’t on my list until today. It was a last minute replacement of "Crash", which I’ve dropped from my list completely. I mean, I loved Crash at the time, but I wondered if it had the staying power to be in the 32. I watched Signs last night and realized that it does and is more deserving. It is an amazing film on so many levels. M Night is truly a genius. But that’s not why it is on my list. The thing that gets me is the Mel Gibson character, Graham Hess, who is totally angry at God. The dialogue he has with his brother midway through the film is priceless. One that maybe only pastors and priests would understand. And then when he yells at God and it proves to be the turning point in his faith—wow. So powerful. And then his brother, played by the wonderful Joaquin Phoenix, challenges him at the end in no uncertain terms to keep the faith—it is just so gripping. I can’t begin to say what that story-line alone means to me. And that is on top of the other amazing storylines in this movie. I should really have it in my top 10. Again, maybe when I'm 62.


Tony Tanti said...

This list is great. I had a feeling Instinct would be on here. You may be right that not many others would put it on a similar list but that's what I love about movies; you were impacted by it and that can't be taken away from you or the movie.

Signs is a great choice, I would put it higher even. Your write up makes me want to go home and watch it again for the 20th time right now. To me Signs and Unbreakable are M. Night's two masterpieces so far, regardless of others having made more money. I love the brother dialogue in this and every time I've seen it I've been moved by it.

jon or angie said...

this my last viewing of the movie was easily the most powerful of them all. how amazing is that? i've seen it like 20 times.

Tony Tanti said...

Oh yeah, and PT & A is an inspired pick as well. I still pull out lines from that movie with people and they usually have no idea what I'm talking about.

matthew a. wilkinson said...


I'll never forget the moment when Shyamalan paused on the Mexico City alien. whew. The look on Joaquin Phoenix's face. That was something else!

This list is great so far.

jon or angie said...

yeah, when you can take a tired genre (alien invasion) and give goosebumps like that with it you are doing something right.

Jeff Coutts said...

Hey Jon, great to see Signs on the list. And even greater to see that Crash was dropped.

Insteresting choice for the Planes Trains and Automobiles picture. Are you trying to say something?

Yes, the flight is fun!

jon or angie said...

no i wasn't trying to say anything i just didn't realize that i recognized it somewhere! oh well. that's kind of funny.

Tony Tanti said...