Monday, March 16, 2009

A strange filmy substance on films.

Paul and I making a movie. A local guy with interest.

This week I had the experience of watching someones favorite movie. The movie is the 1992 release Pure Country, starring none other than George Strait. At it's conclusion I came to my own conclusion that it wasn't a very good movie. I figured that it was my friend's favorite movie for reasons other than it's quality. It turns out that my friend likes this movie because she's seen it a bunch of times. Growing up she'd watch it all the time with her brother and, to this day, they both love it.

All of this talk about good movies made me think that, until recently, I hadn't seen a really good movie for at least a year or so. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a really good movie. It is a great idea and the writers let it play out very nicely. Brad Pitt is great in it, and Cate Blanchett is better. The relationships that Benjamin develop are genuine and interesting and the people that love him are of the utmost character. Kind of like Forrest Gump but not as sugary or predictable. I strongly recommend taking the time for this one.

Which brings me to my next thought. What are my favorite movies? Should I make a list? Yes, I believe that I will! Here they are, in order of their release into the world, with a little bit of my thoughts:

1. Citizen Kane 1941

This is a movie I have watched 5 times in the last 2 years, and twice with the historian's commentary on. I suggest that you do the same. It is a trailblazer; camera shots, no name actors, a 25 year old star and director with all sorts of creative control. This was made all before Pearl Harbor got bombed. Also, an epic/timeless story.

2. Dr. Strangelove 1964

This, to me, is a prophetic movie. Well, I guess with the cold war and the Cuban Missile Crisis, it isn't that prophetic. The story of the Doomsday Device, a war crazy general, and, of course, Dr. Strangelove himself. Also, hilarious, and James Earl Jones' first acting roll. The themes in this movie, though comedic, are probably very similar to the themes that George W. was dealing with for the last 8 years with his war friends.

8. Chinatown 1974

First of all, director Roman Polanski's life is unreal! His mother died in a Nazi Concentration camp and his wife was murdered by the Manson Family; and that is just the tip of the iceberg. He later went on to win an Oscar for directing The Pianist in 2002, but could not come to America to receive it since he would be arrested upon arrival because of being convicted of statutory rape of a 13 year old girl years before after which he fled the country, never to return, even to this day.

Chinatown is amazing. Jack Nicholson gets things done in this movie. The thing that really stood out to me was all of the "beat downs" in the movie. They all seemed so real. I am convinced that half of the fights had to have included real punching, hitting, slapping, etc. It's simply a very believable movie.

4. The Thin Blue Line 1988

Errol Morris' shocking documentary is hard to get a hold of, but if you do, you will not be disappointed. The story line is of a man convicted of a murder he did not commit. It's a really sad story, but the whole thing comes together in the end and it is... well... unbelievable! I'll just say that. Watch it.

5. Unforgiven 1992

If I was making this list from best to 11th best, this one would be near the top. Clint Eastwood is the man in this film. The cinematography is beautiful and purposeful. The acting is raw. The story is refreshing for a cowboy movie. I only saw this a few months ago and I still think about it a lot.

6. Saving Private Ryan 1998

The chaotic beach scene is one of the best scenes of all time. The rest of the movie is pretty amazing, as we all know. The ending on the bridge is pretty memorable too.

7. The Matrix 1999

The 2 other Matrix films are pretty forgettable, but it all started out pretty well. I remember going to see this movie at the Paramount Theatre on Jasper Ave. with my cousin after some sort of family gathering. I don't really need to say anything else about this movie since everyone has seen it. When I worked at Movie World it was the staple that I would throw in the VCR and have on during the slower parts of the night.

8. Dancer in the Dark 2000

The saddest movie I have ever seen. Talking to other people about it and they actually seemed to feel physically violated by the movie. I'm pretty sure that that's what the makers were going for and I think that it is beautiful because of/in spite of that.

9. American Splendor 2003

This is the "comedy" of the bunch. Harvey Pekar is a really lovable character. His idea for comics is great as is the whole story. "I'm just a kid from the neighborhood!"

10. Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2 2003-04

After thinking about it for a long time I've concluded that this is my favorite Tarentino movie(s). It is very violent, and that is not necessarily why I like it. The story is different in that it is a Kung Fu/Western/Crime/Dramatic/Thriller. Also, Uma Thurman rules.

11. Darjeeling Limited 2007

A few Highlights:

- The awkward moments between the brothers.
- Francis' annoyance at Peter for Peter seeming to steal all of their father's things.
- Francis' and Sister Patricia's similarities.
- The gifted leather belt, from Francis AND Jack.
- The fact that I know many people who have been to India and none of them ever saw a train that nice.

This is a beautiful movie. The incident in the small town with the river raft puts it over the top.

I really like Wes Anderson's movies. The Royal Tenenbaums is right up there as well. When Jeff Wilson finds a copy of Bottle Rocket in town he is sure to buy it and gift it to someone. There seems to be a lot of respect for that movie in this city. I also realise that I indirectly have named both of my boys (born and not yet born) after Wes Anderson characters.

Miles Dignan Gitzel
Richie Darrough Gitzel

I love those little guys.

I could have picked other movies, and most of my picks are rather new. This could be because I am 27 years old and have not yet been introduced to many more of the old classics. I've watched a ton of classics, though, and I would say that 95% of them are just as good as advertised. I encourage you to check out the classics. Or at least anything made before 1990.

What's your favorite movie?


goooooood girl said...

your blog is feel good......

godmama said...

Brett! Your commentary on films is EXCELLENT! The Stony Plain Reporter is looking for articles from people to publish (the newspaper business is NOT going well and they've had a lot of layoffs). YOU could do movie reviews and write articles of interest from your perspective and I'd bet they'd print them!
You have a gift!