Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Desert island DVDs

When I make a list, that's a sure sign that I have nothing else to talk about, but I hope you find something interesting in it anyways, and maybe a flick or two you haven't seen before.

I was introduced to the desert island discs concept while living in England. It usually involved very stuffy people like John Major listing which concertos he couldn't live without, but I'll try to keep this more fun.

Plus, as some may point out, there's little logic to it. For example, none of the movies I listed as the 10 funniest movies made this list. These are just the ones that, as I woke up this morning, I decided I could least live without, in no particular order.

"Almost Famous": The original movie, not the bloated director's cut. Cameron Crowe has made some truly horrendous flicks, but this autobiographical/rock fantasy pic is one I've probably seen 15 times, and it never gets old.

American Splendor": I don't think I had ever heard of Paul Giamatti when I first saw this one, which made it all the more magical. Harvey Pekar is the people's champ, and this flick is just ingeniously structured.

"Yi Yi": This Taiwanese soap opera from Edward Yang, who subsequently seemed to disappear from the face of the earth, has often been called a movie about nothing. But that's kind of the point. In looking at the lives of one very ordinary Taipei family, he finds beauty in the most mundane things.

"Y Tu Mama Tambien": I list this one first in my profile, and it's definitely near the top of any list of my favorite movies. Alfonso Cuaron's road movie about two teenagers and their slightly older temptress (which, for the ladies, brought Gail Garcia Bernal to the world) is just a delight to behold.

"Heavenly Creatures": I know people worship at the altar of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I'm definitely ready for Peter Jackson to take on the Hobbit, but for me this remains his best movie so far. There's never been a better flick about the power (good and bad) of imagination, and it clearly inspired Guillermo Del Toro in the making of Pan's Labyrinth (which I can't wait to see.)

"The Quiet American": This is the version by Phillip Noyce starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser, paired with "Rabbit-Proof Fence" in 2002 to give Noyce a truly banner year. Caine's performance is tremendous, and Noyce managed to make a bold statement about American foreign policy without contemporizing Graham Greene's Vietnam War novel. (And his next movie will be of Phillip Roth's "American Pastoral." Great novel should lead to great flick.)

"Amelie": Audrey Tautou, who would later just look so dour in posters for "The Da Vinci Code" (which I will never see), was just the definition of adorable in this Jean Pierre Jeunet fairy tale. I know some people who just find this moving annoying, but most of those people just annoy me, so I guess you can call this one a kind of litmus test.

"Ghost World": Whatever happened to Thora Birch? There was "American Beauty" and than this far superior comic book flick from Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes, and than she just seemed to disappear. Come back, Thora. We all need you.

"You Can Count on Me": Laura Linney, Matthew Broderick and especially Mark Ruffalo are all outstanding in this great little Kenneth Lonergan flick about family ties. I'm not sure why, but this one just speaks to me very loudly. Probably because, like Ruffalo's Terry Prescott, I'll probably always be a bit of a fuckup.

"Smoke": A great cast led by Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, Harvey Keitel and Harold Perrineau drive this Paul Auster/Wayne Wang collaboration that's all about the power of storytelling. The ending sequence to that Tom Waits tune whose name escapes me right at the moment is worth the price of admission by itself.

So, there you have it. A very contemporary list, I know, but that's just what I like. Please feel free to respond with the 10 movies you couldn't live without.


Anonymous said...

Oh man! For so many good movies, you list so many bad movies, too! I won't call out the duds, but I will say that I will never see Almost Famous on principle--the first film I ever made was titled Almost Famous. Then six years later, here comes Cameron Crowe . . .

Reel Fanatic said...

That sounds like a truly odd reason not to see a movie, Jeremy, but you're missing out on a real gem

Anonymous said...

I really don't know what movies I couldn't live without, but I think Heavenly Creatures would make the list. It is part of the reason I was looking forward to the Lord of the Rings trilogy so much.

Reel Fanatic said...

It truly is an extremely underrated flick, Mercurie, as is another of his, The Frighteners

sanchapanzo said...

hmm.. almost famous.. was a decent watch.. i simply adore his earlier movie 'jerry maguire'
some more all time favourites include 'forrest gump', 'notting hill', 'finding neverland' to name a few..

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you on Jerry Maguire, Sanchapanzo .. the flicks I was referring to would be the thoroughly unnecessary Vanilla Sky and the simply wretched Elizabethtown

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Anonymous said...

Good point on never seeing "The Da Vinci Code". I could have done without it.

This is a great little list. Off the top of my head, here is mine. Basically, the movies that I watch about once a month just because I like them so much. Doesn't say anything about how good they are, I just enjoy them.

1. The Matrix
2. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
3. Nightmare Before Christmas
4. Seven
5. Cube
6. The Little Mermaid
7. The Notebook (cheesy and contrived but it makes me cry EVERY time)
8. Troop Beverly Hills
9. AI
10. Swordfish

Reel Fanatic said...

I had to be dragged to see The Notebook, Marina, but in the end I liked it much more than I expected to .. It is indeed a very touching movie

Linda said...

The Godfather
My Cousin Vinny
Mary Poppins
Fight Club
Monsters Inc
From Dusk Till Dawn
Best in Show
In Her Shoes
The Hours
Whew, this was hard. I have over 60 films on my all time favorite list. Good excercise!! PS Almost Famous is on that list of 60 ... love it!!

Reel Fanatic said...

It is indeed difficult, Linda, but I think that's what makes it fun .. Godfather I and II were definitely in the running for me, but just missed the cut

Anonymous said...

Here's what you can see on my island (not necessarily in any kind of order)...

Annie Hall
The Road Warrior
The Big Lebowski
Raising Arizona
Donnie Darko
Waiting for Guffman
The Abyss
The Matrix
The Godfather

Speaking of Peter Jackson, everybody should check out his early horror movie "Dead Alive"...very gross, very funny.

Anonymous said...

In no particular order:

1. Blade Runner
2. Before Sunrise
3. Chasing Amy
4. Say Anything...
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still
6. Fight Club
7. The Empire Strikes Back
8. The Royal Tenenbaums
9. Cradle Will Rock
10. The Fisher King

Reel Fanatic said...

You're definitely right about Dead alive, J. Marquis ... I think King Kong, as bloated as it may have been, was a good reminder that Peter Jackson is, along with being a great director, at heart a prankster

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I love The Frighteners!

scot said...

I love You Can Count on Me I saw that in the theater with a sneak preview pass and had no idea what I was getting into and walked out all smiles. Like you, I couldn't initially place my finger on why it affected me so much, and like you, I started to think of perhaps my similarities to Ruffalo's character, Terry. A few months back, I found the DVD used at a library sale for $2 and was thrilled.

And Yi-Yi yes, yes, yes. So very good.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Heavenly Creatures just stomps all over Lord of the Rings. Yi Yi looks really interesting.

Reel Fanatic said...

It does drag quite a bit at times, Palinode, but there's beautiful moments sprinkled throughout that make Yi Yi well worth watching

Anonymous said...

And because nobody asked, my top ten list of Island DVD's, in no particular order:

Sin City
The Princess Bride
Back To The Future
Two Hands
Team America: World Police
The Crow

I wanted to include Almost Famous, but I figure everyone else on this Island already has it, so I can just borrow it off them.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you on Sin City and Team America, heafy ... I can't wait to see The 300

JMW said...

I'll have to rent Heavenly Creatures again. Haven't seen that in years. Need to rent Yi-Yi, too; sounds good.

Here are my island discs, in no particular order:

You Can Count On Me (great call -- definitely one of my three or four favorite movies)
Annie Hall
Spinal Tap
Sherman's March
Raising Arizona
The Best of Youth
Bottle Rocket
Broadcast News
Back to the Future

GreatSheElephant said...

My favourite Peter Jackson is Meet the Feebles.

I didn't find Amelie annoying but it's not a good movie to see if you are unhappy with your life - it depressed me even further plus I found the character of the stalker guy in the cafe with his little tape recorder very disturbing.

Matt said...

My list seems to constantly change, but Amelie is always on it.

Reel Fanatic said...

Meet the Feebles, greatsheelephant, is indeed another great Jackson flick .. to me he's at his best when he's just having a good time, as he clearly was with that one

Anonymous said...

Amelie, yes.
How are Cinema Paradiso and Brazil not on your list?

Reel Fanatic said...

Only because I limited myself to 10 movies, still unreal ... if I ever were to be sent to a deserted island for real, I'd have to take about 500 movies with me, and those two would definitely be included