The above-mentioned title is a question directed at everybody here on Straight Dope:
What is/are your favorite movie(s)? What scene(s) and/or character(s) stand out the most for you? What are the strong points and/or weak points of these particular films? Are there any aspects of this particular film or films that you feel relate to any particular aspect of real life, such as personal experiences, historical events, etc.? What lesson(s) might you derive from this particular movie or movies? Why is the movie or movies your favorite? Again, I’d love some feedback from everybody here.
The above-mentioned title is a question directed at everybody here on Straight Dope:
My two top favorites are A Man for All Seasons and The Seven Samurai, with the first perhaps slightly edging out the second.
Strong points: The writing, first and foremost. The acting by a superb cast. The way they managed to take it from a stage-bound play to a sweeping movie without forcing things or seeming artificial. The cinematography
Weak points: Can’t think of any. Of all the “based on a true story” movies this one rates pretty highly – people complaining about it inevitably bring up things left out, but that’s not a fault – this isn’t a treatise. It uses many of Thomas More’s own words. A lot of things are in there for symbolic value – especially the river and water, but it’s so unobtrusive that you might miss it, and, besides, it makes for a lot of the pretty scenes.
What lessons might you derive? See the movie. It’ll be clear what makes More tick. It’s not clear that this is the message Robert Bolt wanted to deliver – he said that he meant the message of his Common Man was supposed to be practical and unassailable, but people preferred More’s. Not hard to see why. In the movie, more than in the play, the Common Man comes off as whiny and superficial.
The Right Stuff - Heroic, but not by-the-numbers heroic. Covers a subject that interests me, but I was born a little too late to experience.
Apart from that, it’s really hard to explain. The flying parts of the movie word as a pure adventure, and then I could start adding on more ideas that all enhance the adventure; the end of the era of the lone-wolf hero, the frenzied media and politics of the time, the last great age of exploration, the bravery and the skill. And it’s all mostly true. It’s a treat to see Yeager and the broomhandle put on film.
L.A. Story - Most romances have characters who are generically perfect, this one had two characters whose quirks made them perfect for each other. Funny, in a smart way, and vice versa.
That vision of romance appeals to me, like telling a joke and only one person in the room laughs. Which is the case with the movie, too. I know not everyone will like it. It’s all over the map in some ways; subtle to broad, Shakespeare to boob jokes. Even the ghost in the machine (literally) works as fantasy and comedy. Steve Martin and Victoria Tennant were married at the time. That was the only celebrity marriage that made me sad when they broke up.
Brazil - Dystopia for my generation.
The first time I saw this, it was like a magic trick. There were so many details and oddities of the world in the film that I couldn’t take them all in. It was like a great misdirection, trying to absorb and undertand what was happening, and then some nightmarish moment would happen and be heartbreaking or terrifying. 1984 is a little too dated and spoilered to be as scary as it probably once was. When I first saw Brazil it was still disorienting, and used it to great effect.
Pleasantville - A gutsy idea (being corrupted by knowlege is worth it), a brilliant metaphor (a black-and-white sitcom world turning to color), flawless execution and stunning to look at.
The lesson is to live life and not be afraid of change. I should watch it more often. (A bit of a mixed memory, though. I saw it in the theater with someone I was really falling for who then dumped me.)
If I were to pick one, it’s be Singin’ in the Rain. Just a perfect film, filled with delights.
North by Northwest
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Playtime (only if seen in a theater)
Yankee Doodle Dandy
Shakespeare in Love
The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Thin Man
Ruggles of Red Gap
Raiders of the Lost Ark. Entertaining, perfectly paced. Good balance of humor, action, tension, et cetera.
I am so close to RealityChuck it is frightening although I would have Fantasia in there. And maybe drop two others, but even those two I think are very good.
Ivanhoe. Sword fights and jousting, Elizabeth Taylor, cool bad guy, cool good guy, great costuming.
Not terribly historically accurate, though.
“Certain Norman knights!”
I very rarely watch movies or TV (I’m a book person), so it’s a short list:
The Princess Bride
Probably anything by Monty Python
Nobody’s Fool, Hud, The Hustler, all with Paul Newman. It was hard for this guy to make a bad film, and these three are some of his best. Nobody’s Fool is a particular favorite, as it has a terrific sense of viewing a slice of middle class life.
Casablanca, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, with Bogie. Two classics: the first is worth watching just to be able to look at Ingrid Bergman and that delicious overbite. TOTSM is just a great film with a great cast, including Walter Huston, with Bogie descending into paranoid delusions. And of course it gave us one of the most misquoted and delightful movie lines of all time. Badges?
Lord of The Rings Trilogy: For all its faults, this is one terrific set of films with an amazing cast, spectacular cinematography, directing and set/costume design.
Christmas Vacation, Chevy Chase. Sorry, but this annual viewing is something I look forward to. It just makes me laugh.
Godfather I & Godfather II
Terminator trilogy, Predator: When you want action popcorn movies (with plenty of cheese), these are the ones to watch.
Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory”: a little-known film with Geraldine Page that captures life in the poor South in the 20s.
There are many others, of course, but these come readily to mind.
True Grit, which contains the greatest scene in American film. Rooster Cogburn stands alone against Nasty Ned Pepper and his gang. Tells the other three to stand aside, he’s only interested in Ned Pepper today. Pepper & Company foolishly ask what if they won’t cooperate…
[from memory, may not be exact]
*Rooster: I aim to kill you in one minute, Ned. That or see you hang in Ft. Smith at Judge Parker’s convenience.
Ned Pepper: That’s pretty tough talk for a one-eyed fat man.
Rooster: (roaring) FILL YORE HAND, YOU SONUVABITCH!
(charges, 1 man against 4, reins in teeth, rifle in one hand, pistol in the other).
Yeah, I mark out for that kind of thing. The Duke was awesome.
“I call that bold talk for a one eyed fat man.”
It’s A Gift (W.C. Fields)
Until the End of the World
Bringing up Baby
Living Out Loud
Home for the Holidays
Foul Play (I know, I know…)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Lawrence of Arabia - one of the greats.
Man Who Would Be King** - not one of the greats, but I really like it.
…what can I say, I have a thing for British Colonialism?
The General (Buster Keaton)
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
The Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa)
Ordet (Carl Dreyer)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick)
La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini)
Black Narcissus (Powell & Pressburger)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah)
The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges)
Chloe in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer)
I would absolutely say it is one of the greats, to the point that if I had to pick John Huston’s best film, I’d probably pick this one.
If I had to pick an absolute single I’d have to go with
Shane Alan Ladd at his coolest and Jack Palance (stangely, playing a villian )
The Magnificent Seven, Tombstone and Unforgiven get honorable mentions. The Usual Suspects is also great but after the seventh viewing it starts to fall off.
Depends on what day you ask me. My top three are Citizen Kane, The Third Man, and 2001: A Space Odyssey (but 2001 only in 70mm on a giant screen). Of those three, I’m pretty sure I’ve watched The Third Man the most.
Man, this was hard; I did it off the top of my head and as a result left off such titles as Black Narcissus and Sullivan’s Travels. I’d like to nominate most of AG’s titles as my backup list, although I’d replace Vertigo with The Birds and ***The Seven Samurai ***with Ikiru.
Lucky # Slevin.
All of the characters stand out because they all have small personality quirks that make them unique.
Strong: Fun and witty action-thriller.
Weak: Can see the twist coming a mile away.
Yes, I’m an international assassin and once conned a mafia boss by telling him his rival paid me to kill his son, but I’d kill his rival instead of his son for double what I’m being paid to kill his son.
Don’t bet on a fixed horse race unless you want to end up very dead.
I find it to be a lot of fun. Lots of witty word play with a screenplay that is a very unique approach to the sort of movie it is.