Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top 20 Movies (15-11)

#15 – The Shawshank Redemption

I was very late to the Shawshank party.  All of my friends had told me how awesome this movie was, but I never made it past the first few minutes of the movie.  But boy am I glad I finally came to my senses and watched the whole thing.  I should have trusted that a movie with Morgan Freeman in a lead role would be good, but it turns out he isn’t even the best part.  It’s all the supporting characters like Captain Hadley, Brooks, and Bogs that make the movie interesting.  Even though the ending is a little predictable and a lot implausible, it's still an inspiring movie about hope and redemption.

#14 – Rocky

Rocky was one of the movies that made the list not solely on its merits as a movie, but because of the impact it had on me at the time in my life when it was released.  Let me start by saying that I love Rocky, but hate every last one of the ridiculous sequels.  They cheapen the original.

Rocky came out when I was just nine years old so my favorite part of the movie were the fight scenes and the training sequences, but even at nine I was still impacted by the sweetly innocent love story and the amazing soundtrack provided by Bill Conti.  This was one of the rare movies that I saw multiple times in the theater.  I can't remember exactly how many times it was, but it was at least five times. 

Note:  I'm going to sound like an old man here.  I love my man cave with it's home theater, but I also really miss the days before VCRs and DVD players were common.  There is just something about the experience of seeing a movie with a huge crowd of people in a darkened theater that can't compare.  Rocky was one of those movies where the entire theater clapped and cheered at the end and that's another reason it makes my list...the collective experience it conjured.  It made me feel something: joy, excitement, melancholy.

#13 – I Am Sam

I Am Sam makes my list just because I'm a sappy son of a bitch.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I cry, not sniffle or wipe my eye, but CRY every time I watch this movie.  I don't think this is one of those movies that everyone has seen, so a very brief recap.

Sam is played by Sean Penn.  Sam is mentally retarded, but is the sweetest guy you'd ever meet.  He took in a homeless girl and wound up getting her pregnant. As soon as the baby was born she bailed and he was left to raise a baby that he was ill equipped to deal with.  He gets help from his agorophobic neighbor played by Diane Weist who taught him to feed her on a regular schedule by using the TV schedule of Sam's beloved TV-Land.  Fast-forward to Sean Penn with his now grade school aged daughter played by Dakota Fanning in the height of her adorable precociousness.  His daughter is named Lucy (so named after the Beatles song).  Sam is a Beatles trivia savant only bested by our friend the Crafty Southpaw.  The soundtrack of the movie is 100% Beatles covers done by various well known and not so well known musical artists and there are a few real gems on there.

We first meet her as she and Sam are sitting at IHop eating breakfast and she asks, "Daddy?  Why aren't you like the other daddys?"  Sam, fully aware of his shortcomings becomes instantly flustered and begins to apologize profusely when Lucy stops him and says, "That's okay.  Other daddies don't go to the park like you do."  This pleases Sam and it's our first glimpse of the reversed roles these two play in each others' lives.  She is like a mother to him. 

The real meat of the movie is a legal battle over whether or not Sam is competent to raise his daughter. A ruthless divorce lawyer played by Michelle Pfeifer is shamed into taking the case pro bono and learns a lot about her own relationship with her son through Sam's example of unconditional love.  (And now I'm choking up again just thinking about it.  I'm such a pussy.)

#12 – The Matrix

I'll keep this brief.  This movie kicked ass in multiple ways.  The technology used to create the movie was groundbreaking and the melding of sci-fi and kung fu movies made it irresistible to geeks of all shapes, sizes, and colors. (Proud white, round, large geek here.)  Surprisingly Keanu Reeves made a very convincing digital messiah.

Legend has it that the Wachowski brothers went to Warner Brothers to ask for more time and money to complete their project and received an emphatic no.  That is until the Wachowski brothers previewed the raw cut of the opening sequence with Trinity fighting and then escaping from the police and agents.  The footage didn't include the cleaned up special effects or the soundtrack, but it was enough for Warner Brothers to recognize that they had something special and they changed their tune to "Take as long as you like. How much more do you think you'll need?"

And remember....there is no spoon.

 #11 – Gladiator

"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next." That quote pretty much sums up Gladiator in one moment.

Okay...Gladiator is no masterpiece.  It's a gory guy film with lots of catch phrases.  But boy do I love me some Russell Crowe kicking the crap out of a creepy, murderous, incestuous Joaquin Phoenix.  It's a typical Ridley Scott action film featuring stylized fast cut sequences and lots of blood, but I'm powerless to resist its charms.  If it comes on Starz, Encore, Showtime, or HBO and I stumble across it, I'm watching the whole thing. 

Hopefully less time will pass before I slap 10-6 out here.


  1. I totally meant to link that to your blog. I'm going back and doing that.