Movies To Watch
Here’s a shortlist of 5 movies to watch, movies I’d recommend to anyone; movies that, if you haven’t seen, there’s a good chance I won’t talk to you. Of course I’m exaggerating – but they are great movies.
I’m not saying these are the best movies ever made, but they are movies which I really enjoyed – and that, in many cases, have changed the way I think about the world.
Something I’d like to point out before I begin is that – generally speaking – I am not a big fan of blockbuster movies.
I am most drawn to movies when I can see that the story being told is very important to the people making the movie. When they believe in the idea so much that they think it’s something that the world needs to see. Movies that are doing something different; making us question ourselves; question the world around us. Movies that grip you with such a compelling story that uses the characters and their predicament to invoke a real emotion inside us as we watch them.
I can’t seem to find that in most “mainstream” movies.
When the artist feels like they have no choice but to make that piece of art. When they have been through such a struggle, such a triumph or such an enlightening experience that they must share it with others. They must share the lessons they have learned and show us the pain they went through.
Most Movies Are The Same
I think the biggest problem with “blockbuster” movies – is that they are trying to please everyone. They are trying to become “blockbuster” movies.
In doing so they often lose the real emotion of the story.
Of course most movies are just made to be entertaining and, of course, every movie has a “theme”.
I’m just drawn to movies which are unique and which seem real to me. I like funny movies also. Some action movies and stuff. I’m just saying. “Generally”.
Of course when you get the best actors, writers, directors, cinematographers, producers etc to work on a movie together it will probably be good. If they are all in tune with the same vision for the story and they are all contributing creatively to make something groundbreaking – that can be amazing. Titanic, for example.
However I can’t help but feel this is becoming very rare. That has become more of a process than an art-form and that it’s more about trying to please as many people as possible, as I said before.
Anyway, here’s my list of 5 movies to watch.
I would have written a post “The 5 Best Films Ever” but I’d be here until next Christmas.
So instead, I effectively made a list “The 5 Films I Like To Talk About”.
1.) Taxi Driver (1976). Directed by Martin Scorsese – Buy
An ominous portrayal of the backstreets of New York, seen through the eyes of lonely cab driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro). It has all the edgy, threatening qualities of a great Martin Scorsese movie and is regarded as a classic of modern cinema.
The scum, the underworld, the lowest of the low. The dark streets, flashing lights. As Travis says – “all the animals come out at night.”
For someone who is so disgusted by the world around him, why does he do the job he does? Why does he participate in the endless cycle just like the clubbers, the drug-addicts, the street-walkers who he so despises.
Throughout the movie Travis finds some inspiration to eliminate this evil. Almost everyone he encounters enforces his sinister views that the world needs a big change. He prepares for war. He prepares to change the world. But will he do more harm than good?
2.) Annie Hall (1977). Directed by Woody Allen – Buy
Another movie which changed the way I think. The way I think about life, love, death, happiness, success and everything in between. It’s a very witty and well written movie and is regarded by many as a classic.
Woody Allen’s approach to film-making is very inspiring. By writing and directing all of his own movies he is able to express his opinions, to execute his own vision for the movie and tell the story of his life.
He’s also the first to admit that none of his movies have turned out as well as when he first imagined them in his head. But that’s part of being a good artist. Good artists are never happy.
In this movie Woody plays a neurotic, middle-aged man struggling with a relationship. Woody completely opens up in this movie about his views on life, death, love and happiness. I suppose that’s why it had such a profound effect on me, because it seems so honest.
3.) Goodfellas (1990). Directed by Martin Scorsese – Buy
Martin Scorsese could be easily considered the greatest film director of his time. He has made some of my favourite gangster movies – a style which he is most well known for – but has also produced some fantastic movies in other genres, such as; Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Shutter Island, The Wolf of Wall Street and, of course, Taxi Driver.
This movie is based on a true-story. Depicting the life of New York mobster, Henry Hill. Showing his journey from innocent teenager, to a young-mobster, husband and father. The movie is action-packed and very hard-hitting. Although what’s most interesting is the insight Scorsese provides in to the character, the lifestyle, the glamour and then – the consequences.
For this movie, Scorsese drew a lot of inspiration from early gangster movies.
He describes the 1933 movie Scarface and how it influenced the style of Goodfellas – “these characters who are really despicable are presented in such a way that you like them”.
In Goodfellas, we see these despicable characters go to extreme lengths to make money and gain power. We see them use violence as a way to get what they want. We also see the paranoia and guilt that comes from living such a life – and witness the devastating effects this has on Henry’s family-life and friendships.
4.) Fight Club (1999). Directed by David Fincher – Buy
A movie which was not well-received at first, Fight Club has since become known as a cult phenomenon. A disturbing yet thought-provoking depiction of our consumerist society – the frustration, the emptiness and the desperation for change.
This movie is equally inspiring as it is, at first, shocking. We don’t have to partake in the cycle of earning money and spending money. The cycle of working, sleeping, then working again (or in the case of the film’s unnamed protagonist (Edward Norton) – not sleeping).
The protagonist is completely unhappy in his job, he seeks some sort of meaning in life – but can’t find it. He attends focus-groups to find some sort of comfort. But that doesn’t help.
Then he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). Tyler is cool, confident and says whatever he is thinking. As they become closer the protagonist abandons his previous life to pursue Fight Club.
He embraces the change and finds a purpose in life amidst the chaos. What follows is, quite simply, more chaos.
Fight Club will go down as one of the most spectacular social-comments of our generation.
It’s the perfect example of when great artists contribute to express a message that people need to hear. Some great acting performances and maybe David Fincher’s biggest directorial success.
5.) The Big Lebowski (1998). Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen – Buy
A cult-classic comedy by the Coen Brothers. The Big Lebowski follows Jeffrey Lebowski – better known as “The Dude” – (Jeff Bridges) as he gets caught in the middle of a conflict as a result of a kidnapping.
If he knew what was going to happen he would never have gotten involved.
A middle-aged stoner, an evil rich guy, a smooth talking gangster and a briefcase full of money. That’s all you need for an interesting movie. The beauty of the film is in the acting, the direction and the fact that – there never has and never will be another movie like it.
There’s a lot of speculation as to the meaning of this movie. As there is speculation over most films by the Coen Brothers.
To me, the meaning of the film is not so important, if it has no deeper meaning that is still not important. The fact that we have the opportunity to watch these characters, to enjoy the antics, to revel in their dilemmas is important enough. It’s funny, engaging and thoroughly entertaining. With some of my favourite acting performances ever – from John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and – of course – Jeff Bridges.
To me, the film is about friendship, about enjoying the simple things in life and about taking it easy.
It’s incredible difficult to make a list of the 5 best anything. Especially the best movies. So here’s a few more movies to watch.
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004). Directed by Shane Meadows – Buy
Dead Man’s Shoes is a gripping revenge movie, about a soldier (Paddy Considine) who returns home to exact revenge on the thugs who tormented his dim-witted brother.
Paddy Considine’s performance is one of the most riveting and polarising that I have seen from any British actor. From the outset we can see that his character is blood-thirsty and very dangerous, but we can immediately relate to his motive of bringing justice to men who are more dangerous than himself – men who are truly evil.
Director, Shane Meadows, worked with Paddy on writing this movie and producing it – amazingly the script was written in just three weeks and the movie was filmed in just a few months.
Both Shane and Paddy drew inspiration from their own lives when writing the movie. They created these horrific characters who committed an awful crime – a crime which would usually go unsolved in a small town in rural England, and often does.
Both the story, and the characters, as a result, are very authentic – creating a moral dilemma in the viewer as we wonder about the crimes that must have been committed in our own neighbourhoods and whether we would have the strength or the courage to bring justice to the perpetrators.
The realism is what makes the film so captivating – a realism that is apparent in all of Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine’s work.
American Beauty (1999). Directed by Sam Mendes – Buy
I have not seen this movie in a while, but I had to include it because I remember the wild range of emotions it made me feel when I watched it for the first time.
The movie is disturbing, and gut-wrenching yet tremendously thought-provoking and relateable.
Kevin Spacey’s character, Lester Burnham, is going through what seems to be a mid-life crisis. He has been so worn down and disappointed by life that he quits his job hoping to find a new purpose and find some sort of beauty that has been abscent in his life for so long.
Lester is a smart character, and very aware – but so despondent that he embraces his nervous breakdown. He makes no effort to hide his strange behaviour, nor does he apologise for it.
On the surface, Lester is the most unstable of all the characters – but as the movie progresses we realise that almost everyone is just as bad as he is. They just make an effort to hide it.
There is a glimmer of hope – honesty and innocence – throughout the movie in the form of his rebellious daughter, Jane. But, for the most part, the movie highlights all of the disillusionment, anxiety and disappointment that we all feel but try to supress.
This is one of the most accurate portrayals of modern, American society – showing the ordinary nature of life and most of us fail to accept that.
Despite the movie’s satirical approach, it can also be seen to have a more optimistic underlying theme – that beauty is all around us, but most people choose not to see it.
Inglourious Basterds (2009). Directed by Quentin Tarantino – Buy
I had to include a Tarantino movie on this list – not because his movies are deeply profound or meaningful, but because they are fucking awesome!
Tarantino’s films are always action-packed, unpredictable and entertaining throughout. But what’s most original about his work is the way he ties together seemingly unrelated storylines – often in very dramatic fashion.
Inglorious Basterds is perhaps Tarantino’s most audacious film yet – it makes no apologies and asks for no forgiveness. With this movie, Tarantino pushed the boundaries of modern film-making and, for two and a half hours, changes the course of history.
Tarantino doesn’t care if he offends, if he steps all over stereotypes and clichés – he is a master of effortlessly cranking up immense tension and suddenly mixing it with laugh out loud moments.
This film may be a little hard to swallow for some people, but never-the-less, it is a film which simply has to be seen.
So that’s my list of 5 movies to watch. Comment below with some of your favourite movies and I’ll send you a gold star in the post. (T&Cs apply).
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