Top 5

August 12th, 2011
 

Mikey’s Top 5: Top 5 Favorite Movies

So this week’s episode is going to be on another topic very close to me. One that I would also say makes up the tri force of my life. If music was my body then movies would be my mind. I’ve been called many things, movie geek, film buff, and any other silly name you can think of about movie fan boys. I love the art of story telling. It can be comedy, drama, action, romance. As long as we’re dealing with a good story, fair acting, and a real direction then I’m basically hooked. So this week we’re going to look at my top 5 favorite movies.

So a little background about myself on this topic. When I minored in creative writing, half the classes I took were on film and television writing. I learned a lot about story structure and had practice writing a few short dramas in the screenplay format. I also took many classes on film studies ranging from Hollywood stardom to film renaissance. So not only am I a nerd for flicks in my spare time, but I actually have a little bit of education in the area. A little known fact about me is that I actually was a postage stamp away from applying for the Vancouver Film School and dropping out of college my senior year. Part of me still really wants to do it too.

So I’m going to be touching on all different types of movies in this list. The main requirement to be on my list is that the movie really needs to connect with a characteristic of myself that really defines who I am. So none of these movies will fit in the same genre, but they should hopefully seem clear as to why I picked them. So give me your top 5, comment on mine or see these movies if you haven’t yet.

So here we go:

5. High Fidelity

Well I said in my first blog that I’m basing this whole project on the reoccurring top 5 lists in High Fidelity. This movie changed my life in a lot of ways in high school. First off the main character, Rob (Played by John Cusack), is one of the most relatable characters for me ever (still trying to figure out if that’s a good thing). His self loathing, obsession with pop culture, love of music and film, cool and thoughtful personality, and his ability to over think everything to a flaw has made this character a mirror in many ways to myself. Now I’m in no way just like him, but I feel that I get him and if we were to meet he’d really get me. He’s so cool and so deeply flawed that you can feel for him and hate him at the same time. It’s also rare to see an insightful male character in film. Men, I think, are played by more demeaning stereotypes in film today than women are. This is one of the first times I’ve really seen an honest portrayal of a sensitive male in a movie. He didn’t fall into the cute, hunky guy caste, or the nerdy smart guy with the heart of gold caste. He was just a depressed dude in love. Yes, it’s emo, but it feels real.

“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” I’m just throwing this in here because I think it’s a great quote. The character of Rob and Cusack’s performance led me to look more into his other movies, and discover just how lovable of an actor he really is.

This movie was also the first real mainstream debut of the now uber famous, Jack Black. His on camera personality caught on like wild fire, but before it did we were witness to an incredibly fresh and funny new face with the power of a sonic boom. This kick started his career and made him a household name. Even after all the movies he’s done I still think he’s at his best and most believable in this film.

I also discovered Nick Hornby through this movie. He’s the novelist who wrote the book that the film is based on. There are many differences between the two stories but the soul of the story is the same. I’ve now read a hand full of his books and I do have to say he’s basically a pop version of Chuck Palahniuk. Very witty with great ideas only he doesn’t try to scare the shit out of you or make you want to burn your work down. About A Boy is another film based on his work.

This flick has one of the best soundtracks too. There are all kinds of special goodness on it.

4. Serenity

Take one of the best writers ever in television, the best ensemble cast ever, and a ship that just won’t die and you have my all time favorite science fiction film. Serenity is the product of Fox being a bunch of idiots and canceling one of the best shows to ever see television (Firefly). Like the phoenix, Serenity rose from the ashes with a theatrical release that strengthened an already huge fan base to an army of Browncoats.

From a technical aspect this film is beautiful. Shot at times with a hand held camera that feels strangely like a documentary. The plot is intriguing, dramatic, action packed, touching, and hilarious. I think it’s impossible for someone to not like this movie, even if you haven’t seen the show. The special effects were done by Weta (same chaps that worked on Lord of the Rings. They make ILM look like amateurs). It’s just an amazing movie which is a lot to say for Joss Whedon’s film direction debut.

The weakness of this movie is that it’s a continuation of the television series so there’s a few things that won’t make sense or have as much relevance unless you have seen Firefly. It’s doesn’t by any means kill the story, just weakens it. The way I describe the setting is if the Millennium Falcon were to be stuck in a western. It has old west tones but in a sci-fi environment. The good guys are driven by morality, not law. They’re heroes in every sense of the word, but there’s no doubt they’re outlaws.

Each character is beautifully developed and amazingly charming in their own way. Every one of them has a great and unique sense of humor and quirks. I’ve seriously never met anyone who hasn’t at least liked this movie, and most people go straight to watching the series after being exposed to it. You will see Firefly again on my top 5 favorite television shows.

3. Unbreakable

I don’t care if you don’t like this movie. To a comic book fan it’s one of the best movies ever made. This is the second major release from M. Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense, Signs, The Happening, Lady in the Water, The Village, The Last Airbender). It’s his lowest grossing movie so far, but I think it’s his most unique. First off, it’s a super hero movie. The only super hero movie to make my list, which says a lot about me that I would put this over any real comic book movie. Second, he doesn’t stick to the same suspenseful story telling that has more twists then a cork screw. Sure there is suspense and a twist or two, but compared to his other flicks it’s pretty mild.

Shyamalan did extensive research on the comic book super hero mythology and it shows. He breaks down archetypes, subliminal messages, origin stories, and weaknesses to create an original hero for a more contemporary age. David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis) possesses all the iconic features of a super hero but he’s held down by a lot of common issues such as apathy, a troubled marriage, and relating to his child. He’s more of a less likable, every man character. This combines the reality with the fantasy beautifully.

The main antagonist (in a good and bad way), Mr. Glass, is played by the amazing and always classic, Samuel L. Jackson. His character is unique and is obsessed with comics and mythology and feels it’s his destiny to guide David on the path to be a hero. He’s mysterious, creepy, and corrupt, but at the same time a hero in his own right. I don’t want to give anything away for those who haven’t seen this, but it’s definitely a great character to watch.

There’s not one scene is this movie that doesn’t have some kind of comic undertone or subliminal message. I’ve actually written an extremely detailed paper on this movie breaking down a lot of the key scenes (in some cases line by line). There’s not one arbitrary line or shot in this movie. Everything has its purpose. I honestly think this is the best directed movie I’ve seen from Shyamalan. I would honestly say it’s the closest thing Shyamalan has to a masterpiece and probably ever will. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s why it’s on my top 5.

2. Dogma

I can’t have a top 5 favorite movie list without having a Kevin Smith movie. The question is which one? So many of his movies have made me laugh like nothing else, and also made me think about life in a completely different way. Over all I had to do with Dogma because it delves heavily in religion. I was raised in the church but as I got older and more conscious to what was going on I quickly came to the realization that it just didn’t seem right and there were a lot of important questions to me that no one could help me answer.

Now Dogma didn’t provide the answers, but it sure gave me an insight to faith that very few people could help me see. At the same time they had enough dick and fart jokes spread through to keep me laughing. There aren’t a lot of people that can get you thinking about Jesus and not try to make you depressed by everything (*cough* The Passion *Cough*). Smith reminds us that Jesus came down here to save us, not give us the willies. We should celebrate our faith instead of mourning it.

Now I don’t subscribe to any doctrine of belief. I’m happily agnostic/athiest and don’t feel a hole in my soul for not having God in my life. This movie helped me realize that no one’s right when it comes to religion. Everyone gets to mixed up in all the bullshit dogma. What matters is that you have faith. That you believe that whoever or whatever is watching over you or is driving your life is something you can actually trust in. I have faith that if there’s a Heaven I’m going to get in. Now I’m on the fence about the whole Heaven and Hell thing, but I live a good and honest life. I’m pretty sure I’d be a good person to keep around in the afterlife. I would like to think that God has a sense of humor and isn’t a dick who’ll kick someone out of the house just because they don’t kiss his ass. I’m sorry if I offend some people with this, but what I’m saying is I think God’s probably cool and isn’t going to be judgmental towards the confused.

On a lighter note this film has some of the best performances I’ve seen from it’s cast. Chris Rock is hilarious, Matt Damon can turn coat on a dime, and Ben Affleck has one of the most demented and intense scenes I’ve ever seen. Of course Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith revise their classic roles of Jay and Silent Bob to remind us that it’s okay to laugh. All in all it’s a highly offensive movie that has a bit of message.

1. The Lord of the Rings

That’s right. I’m cheating and putting a trilogy down. I think it’s okay because it’s all one story. Now I have a lot of reasons for putting this down, but first I want to touch on something. These movies have a lot of flaws. Over all they have the story down, but the movies cut out a lot of the magic behind the books. Tolkien had fleshed out his world with more detail than most history books. He made a lot of social commentary that gets lost in the film. A lot of key characters (and frankly badass characters) were cut to make the film move faster and more appealing to mass audiences. There is no way you could ever make a film adaptation of LOTR that is accurate and able to fully honor the greatness off Middle Earth, but Peter Jackson and his crew did the best job imaginable and I applaud their efforts.

LOTR is very close to me. My middle name is Elessar which is Aragorn’s Elven name. I grew up watching The Hobbit and LOTR cartoons, and the first full book series I ever read was LOTR, (which I’ve now read through four times). Usually I get pissed when something I love gets smeared into the mainstream. You put something in a movie and suddenly everyone thinks they’re an expert. But I love everything LOTR and I want nothing more than talk about it with people. I’ll play any LOTR game. I own a replica of Gimli’s Axe, Aragorn’s sword, Anduril, and a replica of Sting, Frodo’s sword. There is just nothing more amazing to me than this story. The movie could have hobbits that are seven feet tall playing basketball and I would still think that this is the greatest movie ever made.

I mentioned earlier the brilliance of Weta as a special effects company. They use an awesome technique of filming models which makes things look so much more real. It sounds cheap, but it’s why LOTR looks way better then the 100% digital crap we see in the new Star Wars movies. Just because we have the technology doesn’t mean we should use it. I think this comes from Peter Jackson’s background in horror and I think we were blessed that he got the project and not some action movie director like Michael Bay.

I’m eagerly awaiting The Hobbit which after much confusion will still be directed by Peter Jackson. Jackson is still a writer and producer so there should still be a strong consistency in the look and quality. I seriously feel lucky to be an audience member at these theatrical events. It’s amazing things like LOTR that make me feel like a fortunate human being.

So that’s my top 5 favorite movies. Again, I’d love to hear everyone’s top 5 and of course comments on mine. Next week I’m going to do my top 5 celebrities I would like to fight. So join me next week and feel free to tell your friends about this. Hopefully it’s fun for everyone.

Mikey


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