“I like movies.” – “Oh yeah?…….. What’s your favorite movie?”
Us cinephiles hate those combination of words… “favorite movie”? Seriously? There are so many movies. How can anyone have a favorite? I mean, sure, some people don’t take movie watching seriously. They have lives. But us… we do. This IS our life. And we are damn proud of it!
“Favorite movie”… do they even know about the different genres? And not only are there genres… but sub genres… and sub sub genres! (Horror – Gore Fest – Skin Eating Diseases & Romance – Fantasy – Comedy) How can you compare Cabin Fever to Princess Bride? Which movie is better? They both are tops in their genre, yet totally different experiences all together.
However, if you tell someone this, you just end up looking like an ass. “I was just trying to make conversation… geez…” So yes, I do have a Top 5 favorite movies… but they aren’t the all time best. My Top 5 basically boils down to the movies that have affected me as a serious devoted film watcher/maker.
5) Crank/Chafed Elbows
Chafed Elbows is a 1966 Robert Downey Sr (A Prince) written/directed film that is nowhere on VHS or DVD. I was lucky enough to catch a viewing of a restored version at a local theater. The script is available via book form. However it doesn’t do the films fast paced images justice. It is a super smart script.
Crank of course is the Neveldine/Taylor masterpiece that involves Jason Statham doing ridiculous stunt after ridiculous stunt. And its awesome.
What do these two completely different movies have in common. After watching them, I immediately wanted to go out and shoot something (with my camera, not my gun). They are very fast paced, unconventional movies that are shot on a very low budget possess a tremendous D.I.Y. guerilla style that says, “Yeah, this is awesome, and you can do it too!”
If I am ever feeling lazy… I watch one of these (or read in Chafed Elbows case) and I am immediately motivated to get off my ass.
4) Le Samourai
The story has been used before, is still being used, and will forever be used. A hitman does a hit, is betrayed, and seeks vengeance. Yet, somehow, this movie is completely different than anything else in that genre.
This is my “minimalist” film. Even with a simple story, the style adds so many layers. It also is filled with “foreign” traits like the use of jump cuts. While there are a lot of American films that take chances, foreign films have a higher percentage of artsy and more daring films. This is one of the best.
Its also filled with subtle moments that “get me off” to borrow a term from an improv teacher of mine. Like when the main character puts on his hat, and strokes the brim ever so softly…
I love Michael Mann… If I could study from one director, it would be him. This movie is probably his best and a huge landmark in film (Robert Deniro AND Al Pacino? No way!)
I love the length… sure its 3 hours… but it holds up. It shows us everything we need to see to make this The Goodguy vs The Badguy.
And as if an opposite to Crank… this movie is very realistic in its action. I love movies that are either way over the top or uber realistic. And the Shootout in the Street is a perfect example of sublime realistic action.
2) Requim for a Dream
It took me a while to watch this movie, because I thought it was just “some drug movie”. I was still new in “film watching” and this movie blew me away.
It showed me the power of having a simple story, but emphasizing it with the use of camera work and edits.
A shining testament to this movie is whenever I remember it in my head, there is always a voice over by the characters. But the movie itself does not have that. That’s the power of the camera and editing in this movie…
1) Reservoir Dogs
Ugh. What a cliche… really? Reservoir Dogs?! Okay… you can stop taking me seriously now.
But. In my defense. Before I saw this movie (which was NOT when it come out in theaters or right when it came out on DVD, but long after) I was very naive. I wanted every movie to be like Die Hard. I was branching out a bit… but not much.
Then, I was told of this “ultra violent action movie” Reservoir Dogs… And I have to say… after seeing it… I was very disappointed… It was pretty violent, but not a lot of action. A lot of talking sure… but pretty tame compared to some movies.
I returned it to the video store and went about watching my other usual movies… but… they all seemed to be lacking something. I couldn’t put my finger on it…
So I rented Reservoir Dogs again. This time knowing what I was getting into and I have to say, it changed my life. I thought “Holy Shit… you can do THIS with films? Why aren’t there more like this?!” But, one of the best things about a Tarantino Movie, is its filled with so many references and homages (lets save the homage vs stealing for another day…) that it basically makes a map for you. He told me what to watch…
And so… this movie got me into filmmaking. Before that, I just watched movies for entertainment… Now, I have devoted my life to the Art of Film. Thank you Tarantino.
So. These are my personal Top 5. I want to so badly put a “honorable mention” in here… but lets face it. That’s cheating. So I won’t. Hopefully later on I can go more into depth about what makes these films so awesome.