There are some movies that I have loved and will always love. They changed my vocabulary, my outlook on life and made me remember why I love writing in the first place. These are some of my favorite movies:
Raiders of the Lost Ark. I first saw this movie when it came out in theaters, the summer of 1981, with a few friends. To say that I was blown away is an understatement (please forgive the cliché). I walked out of the theater dazed. I already loved Harrison Ford for being Hans Solo and the cowboy in The Frisco Kid. One of my friends said, “And that music, it was so good!” I looked at him, baffled. “There was music?” I was too caught up in the action to even notice. I can now quote the entire movie (but unless I’m watching it alone, I don’t). The name has been changed to Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Whatever. I own this movie (one of a handful of movies I actually own that’s not a children’s movie) and re-watch it at least once a year. And after every watching, I always have the same thought — I wish I wrote this movie. It has everything — adventure, romance, mysticism, a heroin who can drink everyone under the table, a charming and handsome archeologist and Nazis who get their comeuppance in the end. Remember when Indy was challenged to a sword fight and he was tired so he just shot the guy? That was brilliant.
My Favorite Year. If Peter O’Toole doesn’t bake your cookies, you are dead on the inside. The man had charm ooze out of every pore in his body (now I made it sound bad). Whenever Peter O’Toole was on the screen, it was impossible for me to look at others near him, he sort of glowed golden to me, like an angel. In this 1982 movie he basically played himself, an aging, alcoholic actor a bit past his prime. Mark Linn-Baker played his minder while he was in New York, for a variety show (the setting is 1950s) starring Joseph Bologna. There is a stupendous line (there are many, but this one is just my favorite) in the movie: “We, Jews, know two thing: suffering and where to get great Chinese food.” It’s a movie full of nostalgia and comedy and … did I mention Peter O’Toole?
The Usual Suspects. I also own this 1995 movie, starring Kevin Spacey, Garbriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri, Kevin Pollak and another one of my all-time favorite actors — Pete Postlethwaite. I own the movie, but I haven’t seen it since it first came out, in the theaters. That’s because I remember it, vividly and well. So clear is my memory of it, in fact, that even the tiniest details are etched vibrantly, from the coffee cup to the bulletin board. Please, who can forget: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convince the world he didn’t exist. And like that … (blows out air and dispenses with his fingtips) he is gone.” We were given the greatest boogeyman of all times — Keyser Söze. “Keaton always said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of Him.’ Well, I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Söze.” A dark noire mystery, this is not a happy ending kind of a movie, and I’m fairly certain that the movie holds some sort of a record for dropping more f-bombs that any other film. What can I say — it completes me.
What the *bleep* Do We Know? This 2004 movie is a little difficult to describe. Part documentary about cellular, molecular and quantum worlds (I’m reading the description of it on Google) and part scripted movie, it’s starring Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix and John Ross Bowie (who is so good on The Big Bang Theory and Speechless TV shows). When I was watching it in the theater, I saw a man in the audience move forward, as in the thinking pose. I’ve never seen this before — the move has always been to lean back, as in relaxing and taking this in. But this movie demands your attention, it makes you think and it both challenges you and changes your attitude.
Broadcast News. This 1987 romantic comedy/drama is a rare bird — a love and lust story without any sex, a smart satire/observation of American television news, even some physical comedy, and written so well that we love all these flawed, wonderful, real people. Starring Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks, William Hurt, Jack Nicholson (in a tiny part, but perfect for him) and Joan Cusack (not enough of her, in my humble opinion), this movie makes me laugh, makes me sad and uplifts me at the same time. Quite a feat.
The Foreigner. I thought about not including this, the newest of the movies on my list. But then, a few days ago, it was on TV, and I watched it again. For the third time. And this coming from a person who has 4 percent free on her DVR. Jackie Chan does a lot of heavy lifting in this 2017 movie, real acting, and he does it well. He’s not outdone by Pierce Brosnan and Orla Brady, who shine. Jackie Chan grieves and survives and still has the moves as he fights as only he can. Although there are chase scenes and brutal action sequences, this was not a dumbed down action movie. Both the protagonist and the antagonist are complex human beings.
OK, these are some of my favorite movies. Now I challenge all my favorite writers and anyone who’s reading this, to come up with some of theirs and tag me, so I can read ‘em.