Suggest some movies for our film discussion group, please.

My wife and I run a monthly movie discussion group and we’re always on the prowl for good, discussable, movies. We’re into our eight year (started in August, 2000) and we’re trying to round out our list.

The general setup is that we select a film a couple of months in advance, everybody watches it in their own time, then we meet to discuss the film.

Our rules are:

  1. Must be available on DVD.
  2. Must be available in the Knoxville area (not much a concern for this thread, so don’t worry about it).
  3. We prefer American films or “well-known” foreign films. So that Malaysian indie flick that’s only available as a bit-torrent is out. :wink:
  4. Must be “discussable”. I.E., the discussion must consist of more than “Yeah, I liked that scene. How about when he…?” or “Were you surprised at the ending?” “Yes, were you?”

Yeah, there are some turkeys in the following list, but that’s group politics - you can’t constantly ignore the person who votes their favorite Disney movie for months, not if you don’t want your already-small group to shrink to “it’s not worth the effort doing this” levels. Feel free to mock some of the movies selected, but what’s done is done. And it seemed like a good idea at the time. :stuck_out_tongue:

Our barebones website:

Future films to be discussed in 2008: Jules and Jim, Battleship Potemkin.

The list of previously discussed movies:

[ul]L.A. Confidential (1997)
Election (1999)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
The Player (1992)
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
The Graduate (1967)
Henry V (1989) Henry V (1944)
The Conversation (1974)
Amadeus (1984)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The Great Escape (1963)
Rear Window (1954)
Chinatown (1974)
JFK (1991)
The Producers (1968)
Touch of Evil (1958)
The Searchers (1956)
The French Connection (1971)
The Lion In Winter (1968)
When We Were Kings (1996)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Duck Soup (1933)
The Godfather (1972)
Cape Fear (1962) Cape Fear (1991)
Sunset Boulevard (1956)
Seven Samurai (1954)
Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) (1982)
Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991)
White Christmas (1954)
Jackie Brown (1997)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Wings (1927)
The Third Man (1949)
Thunder Road (1958)
Dr.Strangelove (1964)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
The Name of the Rose (1986)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Gone With The Wind (1939)
The Ref (1994)
Smoke Signals (1998)
Manhattan (1979)
The Grey Zone (2001)
Blue (1993)
Dead Again (1991)
8 1/2 (1963)
The Stepford Wives (1975)
Contact (1997)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Singing in the Rain (1952)
Hud (1963)
Die Hard (1988)
Roger & Me (1989)
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
To Have and Have Not (1944)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Jaws (1975)
The Mission (1986)
The War of the Worlds (1953)
12 Angry Men (1957)
The Virgin Suicides (2000)
Nosferatu (1922)
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
The Grifters (1990)
Rebecca (1940)
Unbreakable (2000)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
The Fog of War: 11 Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
Lone Star (1996)
Ed Wood (1994)
Time Bandits (1981)
The African Queen (1951)
Almost Famous (2000)
Carrie (1976)
Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, Le (2001)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Rocky (1976)
Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Nashville (1976)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Kill Bill vol. 1 (2003)
Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios/Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Heathers (1989)
Pride of the Yankees (1942)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Becket (1964)
East of Eden (1955) (This months film)
Richard III (1995) (January’s film)[/ul]


“The Man from Earth” sparked a lot of fun discussion and speculation amongst my friends.

“An impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he is an immortal who has walked the earth for 14,000 years.”

Crimes and Misdemeanors
Five Easy Pieces
Paths of Glory
My Life as a Dog/Boogie Nights
(compare and contrast; they have essentially the same theme!)
The Nasty Girl
School Daze
Blood in the Face

Foreign films, some easier to obtain than others:
Once Were Warriors (New Zealand 1994)
Rashomon (Japan 1950)
Le Dernier Combat (The Last Combat) (France 1983)
Thomas est Amoureux (Thomas in Love) (Belgium 2000)

American films:
A Christmas Story (1983)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Harvey (1950)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Memento (2000)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) I dare you.

Sorry for any repeats I didn’t catch (consider them seconded).

We did do “Ed Wood”. That’ll have to take the place of the “Plan 9” discussion. :wink:

I’m surprised I never even thought about “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. :smack:

The Birth of a Nation

Probably the most important American movie ever made.

Brokeback Mountain

I’ve always had some lovely discussions after watching any of Wes Anderson’s films. I’d recommend either The Royal Tenebaums or The Life Aquatic as particular good picks for DVDs, though it probably won’t be long before his newest (Darjeeling Limited) comes out at the local Blockbuster.

Primer (Amazon listing) - made for $7,000 (yes, that is the correct number of 0’s) by a never-done-it-before filmmaker with an engineering background, it won an award at Sundance and is a great, engaging, confounding film to watch. I was reading one of those Amex ads where the celebrity lists their favorite things - a Nobel prize-winning physicist listed it as his favorite movie.

It posits the question: what if some guys trying to develop something entrepreneurial in their garage stumble across something huge, as in Einstein/Newton/H.G. Wells huge?

I am not giving anything away to share that the discovery involves time travel and that, during the movie, numerous time threads intertwine - which leads it to be confounding, but actually makes sense if you follow the threads.

Overall the movie is a short, engaging, deeply thought-provoking thriller - like any top-notch sci-fi, it uses the sci-fi element as a metaphor to explore how we look at big questions.

Huge discussion possibilities for a movie group!!

Bringing up Baby
Ben Hur
Ten Commandments

With Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments, you might compare the silent versions with the more popular epic versions.

Maria Full of Grace - foreign with some subtitles, but much of it is in English. It’s a fantastic movie, IMHO

The Magdalene Sisters is also a foreign film, but Ireland so no subtitles.

Big Fish

The Color Purple

Children of Heaven (Iranian movie)
Grave of the Fireflies (Animated, not cartoons! will provide discussion for ages)
Like Water for Chocolate
And your mother too.
Blade Runner (final cut, coming 12-18)
Baraka (non dialogue)

I second:
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

And I’ll add:
Dreams (Kurosawa. Some subtitles, but mostly non-verbal)
The Matrix (JUST the first one)
Run Lola Run (German with subtitles, but not that much verbal)
The Hustler
“My Life as a Dog” and “Boogie Nights”: Are you joking about the similarity ? Or is this a different “My Life as a Dog” ?

You need some David Lynch in there. Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man.

Here’s a selection of some more silents with brief descriptions that are available on DVD (the DVD requirement is very confining–lots of silents are still only available on VHS or LaserDisc) that I think would be very open to discussion.
Intolerance (1916)
Four stories intertwine tracing various acts of intolerance throughout the ages, including the fall of Babylon, the crucifixion of Jesus, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and modern-day story involving strike breakers, tenement life, and a woman whose child is taken by social reformers and whose husband is on death row.
Broken Blossoms (1919)
A Buddhist monk in China, whose only contact with westerners are violent soldiers, leaves for England to spread his message of peace, but his idealism is quickly crushed in the slums of London, where he crosses paths with the abused daughter of an alcoholic boxer.
Cabiria (1914)
After the eruption of Mt. Etna, a young girl is kidnapped and taken to Carthage to be a sacrifice to the fire god Moloch. A Roman and his slave embark on an epic adventure to rescue her (and in the process get into all sorts of scraps themselves–bonus points for including a scene with Archimedes and his famous solar powered death ray).
Sir Arne’s Treasure (1919)
Three Scottish nobles escape a Swedish prison in the middle of the winter and, mad with cold and hunger, murder a local clergyman for his vast ill-gotten treasure. One girl survived the robbery and, not realizing who he is, begins to fall in love with one of the perpetrators, who is stuck in Sweden until the spring thaw and is racked with guilt for what he’s done.

If I was limited to just one recommendation, it would be Sir Arne’s Treasure.
Pandora’s Box (1929)
A high-class prostitute accidentally kills the wealthy man she was with and lives a life on the lam that eventually takes her to a derelict garret in London where she services a clientèle of a much lower class, all the while a Jack the Ripper copycat is prowling the streets.
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
A pharmacist’s daughter is raped and impregnated by a clerk in the store. When she refuses to marry him, her baby is taken away and she’s sent to reformatory run by a lascivious and sadistic matron. She eventually escapes but, for lack of anywhere else to go, is forced into a brothel.
Faust (1926)
A take on the folk tale, God and Satan wage war over control of the Earth and decide that the winner will be whoever wins the soul of Dr. Faust. During the height of the Plague, Faust, unable to treat those stricken, rejects God when Satan offers him the ability to cure. Lured in by the ability to have his every wish granted, Faust signs a contract with Satan, who then causes trouble in the lives of those dear to Faust.
Michael (1924)
Two identical stories with different characters play-out simultaneously: in the first, a wife grows tired of her much older husband and begins having an affair with a younger man; in the second, a gay artist’s younger partner begins drifting away and starts a relationship with one of the artist’s subjects more his own age.
The Last Laugh (1924)
A man is employed as the doorman at a prestigious hotel and, through his position, holds the respect of his wife, friends, and neighbors, but when he grows too old for the job, he’s reassigned as a bathroom attendant and is chided and ridiculed by all those who once looked up to him. (Interesting in that it’s told entirely through visuals–there is no dialog in the entire film, none of the characters even have names.)

For Potemkin, you simply must get a good version. Potemkin is one of those films that’s breathtaking when presented perfectly, but with even the slightest flaw in pacing, translation, or accompaniment, turns into the longest, most boring slogs to get through imaginable. The Kino Ultimate Edition available now is very good, but not without its problems. By 2008, hopefully the BFI will release their version on DVD. If they do, barring some royal screw-up, it will be the definitive edition.

At nearly three and a half hours long, Intolerance really needs to be a decent print with good music as well to hold your attention. Same goes for The Birth of a Nation, which has already been mentioned.

I third Rashomon, second Run, Lola, Run, and add Brick, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I’m ambivalent as to Roger Dodger, which has generated much discussion and thought in my household but is also vaguely disturbing.

Serenity, the movie based on Firefly, has numerous references/throwbacks to classic literature and older sci-fi movies, and could potentially be a source for deep discussion about trying to improve people/society vs. leaving them be.

Of course, it’s also got lots of cool “Did you see that?” bits and some fun quotables. :smiley:

Dogma is Kevin Smith’s take on religion, and has lots of fun ideas about faith, idolatry, doing what’s right, and the fallibility of man when it comes to interpreting God’s will. Also, it has Salma Hayak as a stripper, which is always good. :smiley:

Casablanca is a classic, of course, not to mention an outstanding movie, and as you can see by poking around on the SDMB, it’s a great movie to discuss.

Other movies I’m fond of, in no particular order:

The Manchurian Candidate (old school)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (and it’s little-known followup: Shock Treatment)
The Truman Show
Dark City
Donnie Darko
El Mariachi
(like the aforementioned Primer, this film was made on an extremely small budget, filmed in Northern Mexico on a second-hand 16mm camera and whatever various odds and ends of film the producer/director/writer/editor, Robert Rodriguez, could get a hold of. Fun to compare his first feature movie with one of his newer flicks like Sin City or Planet Terror)
Reefer Madness (both the original and the 2005 musical version)

Well, you’ve already got The Seven Samurai, one of my all time favorites. But you lack:
A Man for All Seasons – Fred Zinneman’s wonderful film of Robert Bolt’s play about Sir Thomas Moore, with screenplay by Bolt. Great stuff – wonderful verbal fencing (with Leo McKern playing a Prosecutor, instead of a Defender). And More gets all the good lines (mainly lifted from his writings). A good exercise is to read the play first (still in print, after all these years) and compare the two. As with Amadeus (which you also listed, and which was adapted for the screen by the original playwright), the play was very significantly changed, and you can get hours of discussion out of the differences.
Forbidden Planet – This alternates with 2001 (which i also recommend) as my choice for ALL-Time Best Science Fiction Film. It captures, better than any other, the spirit of Good 1940s science fiction. It is NOT “The Tempest” slicked up in science fiction drag. The characters and their motivations are all different (Can you see Caliban driving the plot in The Tempest?) It’s effects pretty much stand up, and it’s intelligent. Robby obeys the Three Laws of Robotics (and it’s even used to drive home a point at the end of the film), there are emergency fail-safes, and Doc Ostrow’s bit of logical reasoning about The Nature Of The Beast after the attack on the ship is SF at its very best (and all too rarely depicted in science fiction cinema).

I second The Color Purple.

Snatch (my favorite movie right now) - great dialogue, cute reference to the director’s wife.

Trainspotting (previous favorite) - there are so many different situations to discuss.

The Iron Giant (I just love it) -