Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Joe's Top Ten Favorite Movies

So last week I was supposed to write about my top ten favorite video game characters. Unfortunately my own impossibly high standards as to what makes a character good (Incidentally, I do NOT think Mega Man, Mario, Sonic or Link are AT ALL good characters, but that’s a discussion for another time) it’s probably not going to be done anytime soon. So instead, being a film critic by trade, I often get asked what my favorite movie is. So here we go, my top ten favorite movies, once again in no particular order.
Side note A: I will admit that while I am pretentious, that doesn’t mean that I can’t accept that a movie can be both good and make a whole ton of money, so thus the presence of some big Hollywood blockbusters unlike some other film critics whose lists are full of artsy films.
Side note B: I am well aware that two of the films on my list are rated R. I would like to remind the audience that the official statement by the First Presidency of the church is to “Use one’s own discretion”. I’ll explain more later.
Side note C: You’ll notice the lack of animated films on this list. There are too many to count (Disney could easily have its own list) so this is all live action films.

10: Harvey
To me this is one of Jimmy Stewart’s best films, even though his most popular today is It’s a Wonderful Life. This is one of the movies that made me fall in love with movies in the first place. The story is about a soft-spoken and kind man who makes friends easily but is the constant embarrassment and shame to his family because he’s best friends with a 6’ tall white rabbit named Harvey that only he can see. Stewart is so loveable in this as this kind man, almost completely oblivious to the havoc he causes around him for talking to his rabbit friend. If you ever get the chance, check this out because this is fun for the whole family.

9: The Dark Knight
On the other side of the film spectrum from Harvey sits The Dark Knight. Like a lot of people the reason I really love this movie is for its villain, the Joker, played by the legendary Heath Ledger. I love how this film captures the real spirit of the Joker by making him be the only one to push the stalwart Batman straight to the edge. The film itself has the feel between Law and Order and Saw, with just enough not shown to keep its PG-13 rating. I love it and I can quote the lines from it by heart.

8: Rebel Without A Cause
This film has been talked about so much there isn’t much I can say about it to add to the conversation. I will say that something I love about this film is the relationship between Jim and Plato, which for those who haven’t seen it plays out in this weird twisted version of hero worship. How it develops through the film shows the strengths and weaknesses of both characters, as well as the weaknesses of the society in which they live. It’s a hard-hitting film for its time that I think needs to be show to every teenager with their dad sitting right next to them.

7: Star Trek: First Contact
Yes, I like the Abrams stuff, and if you haven’t seen Star Trek Into Darkness yet then go see it immediately, but this is still my favorite Star Trek film, partially because it dealt with my favorite cast and partially because it had one of my favorite villains from Star Trek: The Borg. The film is about an attack by the Borg on the Federation, choosing to go back in time on Earth to assimilate it in the past and stop the test of the human’s first warp ship. Following them is the crew of the Next Generation’s Enterprise both to save history and stop the Borg once and for all. I love how tormented Picard is in this film as he struggles with the trauma of having his individuality torn away from him, as well as Data’s desire to be human twisted and perverted by the Borg in an effort to gain more control. I also love that Star Trek took time to explore its own history, rather than going back in time to our time as they like to do. Plus, is it just me, or is there something kind of hot about the Borg Queen?

6: V for Vendetta
This is one of the rated R films on this list and for good reason. While the film does feature some gratuitous fight scenes, the political messages alone I feel are enough to give it a rating. In a distopian future, a neo-fascist regime has seized power in England, ruling the populace through media manipulation and fear. A lone hero, V, has vowed to bring the regime down in the course of a year and set the people free. Now while the film does have several political stands on religious freedom, gay rights, and government and media, I feel the film’s main message is that freedom at its basic level is a cause in and of itself to be fought for, and that nobody deserves to be persecuted or live in fear. The hero is great, Natilie Portman is great, and this film helps us all remember why we should be grateful for the freedom we have.

5: Young Frankenstein
Of course a Mel Brooks film had to end up on this list. I actually couldn’t decide between this, Spaceballs and Blazing Saddles, but I decided that of the three this was the most intelligent. Young Frankenstein is about Frankenstein’s grandson, an accomplished doctor, inheriting his grandfather’s castle in Transylvania. He ends up finding his grandfather’s laboratory and builds a creature of his own, all while teaming up with a hunchback and a busty lab assistant. The jokes come from the hysterical accent (Blucka!) as well as references to the old Universal monster movies which will always be near to my heart (Yet another top ten list).

4: Les Miserable
This film caught me completely by surprise when I saw it. The complicated tale of love, redemption, and revolution all with songs melts my heart every time. Yes, Russell Crow is also my least favorite thing in this film, and I’m honestly not too fond of Hugh Jackman’s singing (Except when he sings the song with Anne Hathaway at the end and dies, that tears me right up), what I do love about this film is how despite some weird casting choices it captures the spirit of the play so wonderfully, bringing audiences around the world to tears as Hathaway dreams her dream and Epany (I have no clue how to spell these names) dies on the barricade singing about how rain will make the flowers grow. What can I say, I’m a romantic at heart.

3: Avengers
Another film that caught me off guard, I honestly had no idea what to expect when I went into the theater. I knew that one of my favorite people ever, Joss Whedon was in charge of it so I had some hope, but what I got was one of the best freaking super hero stories I’ve ever seen. It was exciting, funny, moving in parts, heartbreaking in parts (I lose it when Iron Man is flying into the black hole and tries to call Pepper). I know a few weeks ago I said how the Marvel film franchise is walking a tight line, but if they keep making this I won’t have any complaints.

2: Harry Potter 7 parts 1 and 2

I could make a snarky comment that this is my favorite Harry Potter movie (And yes, it is one big ol’ movie on two DVDs if you ask me) and book for that matter because the thing finally ended, but honestly that’s kind of why I love it. So many franchises just keep going, with movies, TV shows, books, video games, comic books, that following the thing becomes almost a life goal (You notice you don’t see any Star Wars movies anywhere on this list). Harry Potter on the other hand doesn’t just end, but it ends with a giant battle that’s been building up since the beginning, and every single piece of the series gets tied up in its own little package. Do I want to hear what happened to Harry and the gang between the battle of Hogwarts and them sending off their kid on the train? Honestly no, I don’t need to because I know that whatever he faced compared to Voldemort would be easy. It ended a satisfying part of my growing up experience.

1: His Girl Friday
This film is so old all the copies I’ve ever seen of it are grainy, including the DVD copies. It stars Cary Grant and Rosiland Russell as a divorced couple (Shocking for Hollywood in 1940) who are also fellow reporters. Russell is trying to start her new life away from Grant and the cutthroat newspaper business while Grant is trying to get Russell Back in the only way a Cary Grant character knows how: Through deception border lining on sociopathic. Seriously through the course of the film Grant gets a guy arrested like three times, one for “mashing” which is basically the 1940s way of saying sexual assault, all of course a rouse set up by him to win back Russell. But as messed up as some of these concepts are they are certainly entertaining to watch. The dialogue is fast and punchy like New Yorkers were supposed to talk back then, with lots of quick insults and jokes that you have to pay attention to get. I love this film because it shows us just what it means to live life in a New York minute.
Special considerations:
Pulp Fiction
The Seven Year Itch
The Wizard of Oz
Hunger Games
Die Another Day
Silence of the Lambs

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