I have been challenged by Ryan W. McKinley to list 15 of the films that are the most important in my life and then tag 15 friends to do the same, who must tag 15 more….sounds redundant, but here goes:
(Note: This is a duplicate post from Facebook, but thought it would make a fun blog post)
#1-3 The Lord of the Rings film trilogy – Perhaps the greatest moment of my life was seeing Peter Jackson’s translation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic on the big screen. He cast the perfect people, took the care necessary to bring forth the vastness of Middle Earth, and also stayed as true to the books as possible (even if he left out Tom Bombadil). Tolkien’s work has always been a huge influence on my own writing, and it forever shall be. I read LOTR every year and find something new each time.
#4-5 The Hobbit Films – I cannot include the final film in this list (even though I would if it were out), but for the same reasons I have included #1-3.
#6-8 – The Mad Max Trilogy – These three films encompass the reason I go to the movies. I love the idea of a lone hero facing the world, a world that is unpredictable and full of danger. Mel Gibson aside, I love George Miller’s storytelling and his ability to craft a tale that is set in such a broken place. Post-apocalyptic fiction is always fun to read, and that’s probably why I like The Walking Dead so much. There is something wondrous about the “man with no name” film for me…and that brings me to the next few films:
#9 – “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” – Sergio Leone’s classic revisionist western is the tantamount of westerns for me. I never quite liked the old “Stagecoach”-type John Wayne westerns, feeling that they are way too unlike what the real west was like. There is also something truly American about the western, even if this one was filmed in Italy. Like his student George Miller, Leone was not afraid to make a long shot an establishing shot, to film only the eyes, and take films back to an era where dialogue was overshadowed by sheer cinematography.
#10 – “Unforgiven” – Clint Eastwood’s final “man with no name” film, the story of Will Munny and his rag-tag elderly gang who go to a nameless town to kill a nameless and ordinary man is probably one of my favorite films of all time. It is the revisionist-post-modern masterpiece that many people feel may be Eastwood’s best film. The villains are not really villains, the heroes are not really heroes, and like Charles Portis proved in his fiction, great characters simply “are”, and are not judged by the writer at all. Villains and heroes are ultimately people, people thrown into certain situations by their choices.
#11 – “True Grit (2010)” – I do not lump in the original film “True Grit”, because “The Duke” changed the character of Rooster Cogburn so much that he was completely unrecognizable from the original creation found in Charles Poris’s novel. The Coen brothers did the best job of re-creating the feel and “look” of what I saw in my head when I first read “True Grit”. I love this film simply because of the way it portrays its characters: as people, not really villains or heroes, but just common human beings who happen to do good and bad deeds.
#12 – “Blade Runner” – Now purists might ask “which version?” but Ridley Scott’s classic film is probably the best tribute to another of my favorite writers: Philip K. Dick. Of course old Phil’s writing has been made into several films (Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, Total Recall, etc.), but Blade Runner stands out as the one film that explores what it means to be a human being or to have a soul. The film is somewhat spiritual by that account, and is Harrison Ford at his best.
#13 – “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” – You might think that I would say “Raiders” like everyone else, but I like the third film in the trilogy the best because it was my Dad’s favorite. I like it because it has Sean Connery, playing against Harrison Ford’s perfect straight man. It also has one of the few appearances of my dream vehicle, the Russian made Ural side-car bike (dressed up to look like a German side car bike). When I watch that film I think about my Dad, and I suppose that is why it is in this list.
#14 – “The Dark Knight” – Of the three Christopher Nolan Batman films, this one is my favorite. I could watch it again and again because finally someone portrayed The Joker as he was intended and as I feel Bob Kane originally designed him before the comics code was put in place. It is great on so many levels, from cinematography to writing and of course directing, but I find myself popping it in quite frequently.
#15 – “Ghostbusters” – Of all of the films of my youth, this one is probably the most influential on what I see as film comedy. I could probably put “Raising Arizona” in this list, but I can only place 15. Ghostbusters however is the one I can quote from beginning to end because I’ve seen it so much. It is great not only for its cultural significance, but because there is so much going on in the background and the facial expressions, even the subtle ones, are so choice.