Sunday, July 10, 2016

TOP 10 MOVIES which Made Me Fall In Love (with Film)

"Topsy-Turvy: Wagger" (Inks on Paper / 2006)
In another life, I'm obsessing over camera angles and voice inflection rather than line weight and how many shades of blue I can fit into a sky.  Since I was a child, I've been consumed with the wonderment I've found through the world of cinema.  You may have noticed many of my Top 10 lists focus on the very subject.  Speaking with a friend recently, I acknowledged the impossibility of naming my own Top 10 favorite movies.  I find myself breaking things down into genres in such conversations.  Its been a while since I made a new list so I thought this would be a good place to start.  Today, I was thinking about which films really pulled me into this devoted love of movies and began jotting down titles.  I suppose this will be the closest I come to a general Top 10 Favorite Movies.  The considerable factor here in choosing is what influence the film had on me when I first viewed it.  I could compose a dissertation on each I'll try to keep it short.  Here are the Top 10 Movies which made me fall in love with film...

[10] SPARTACUS (1960) directed by Stanley Kubrick

This epic motion picture capturing a slave uprising against the Roman Empire was mandatory viewing material in my father's opinion when I was growing up.  The film gave me my first glimpses into period pieces, sprawling battle scenes, elaborate sets and costumes.  Without the groundwork laid by this movie, so many more classics (both golden and modern) wouldn't exist.  The film is powerful in its message (and had quite a grim ending for the time). The chant of "I am Spartacus" will always echo in my cathedral of my mind back in the halls of cinema.

[09] MEMENTO (2000) directed by Christopher Nolan

One of this generation's greatest filmmakers breathed fresh life into a new millennium of movies when he released his sophomore effort- a movie which runs backwards.  This film defines the concept of wishing you could watch something again for the first time with fresh eyes.  Just when the we get the hang of navigating a backwards timeline, more twists and turns arise to make for quite a puzzle.  As the viewer, you feel the main character's struggle in remembering how he got where he is, because you're still finding out.  When it ends (begins), you just want to push play again so you can really piece everything together.

[08] BLUEBERRY (2004) directed by Jan Kounen

Part comic book adaptation, part western and complete psychedelic explosion, this movie is hands-down the best visual depiction of altered consciousness ever put to film.  The two main characters are on a collision course of revenge which turns to self-discovery when their chase leads them inside the forbidden caverns.  Legend speaks of a fortune of gold hidden deep inside.  They eventually find their treasure- not gold, but a shaman who doses them and guides the psychedelic journey which serves as the entire third act of the film.  The trip is the final battle, the showdown, and the act of revelation.

[07] THE NEVERENDING STORY (1984) directed by Wolfgang Petersen

My earliest experiences at the movie theater include this fantasy epic.  Before I could even read, I was taken to a very magical place by the creatures, the effects and the story of this alternate world colliding with ours.  It was a film which mystified me, made me cry and made me believe I could fly.  It speaks of the very foundation of literature and film- the escape to another world.  I was an awe-inspired child who left the theater with a head full of fantastic imagery and concepts which still inspire me today.

[06] THE FOUNTAIN (2006) directed by Darren Aronofsky

One of the most conceptually daring films ever composed, I was absolutely floored by this movie when I first saw it.  Aronofsky is one of the modern masters and this is perhaps his Creation of Adam.  To create galaxies, the filmmaker went inward and projected microscopic images rather than using computer generated ones.  It's a modern epic. It's religious, It's beyond language and love.  It's a journey through life, death and the eternity which weaves the fabric of both.  Take his journey through time, reality, fantasy and rebirth- it's worth the visual experience alone.

[05] THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) directed by Irvin Kershner

Released in the year of my birth, I was introduced to Episode V and the original Star Wars movies a bit later but when I was still a grade-schooler.  This dark fantasy masterpiece thrilled me as a child.  I loved the sci-fi elements, the landscapes, the thematic battles and my first glimpse at an unconventional Hollywood ending.  This was the first film I remember watching which left me with so many questions.  My folks had to explain another movie was coming when it was over.  It's the best part of the original trilogy and I'm still obsessed with it today.

[04] THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995) directed by Bryan Singer

I've always loved a good mystery movie and Bryan Singer's directorial debut delivered one of the best.  One could teach an entire film class on this film for more reasons than I could list here.  With one of the greatest surprise endings every written, you're really missing out if you haven't seen this one.  It's a suspense movie, a heist movie, a mystery movie, a gangster movie and more.  The best part is an ensemble cast which draw you in with their acting and high drama, all the while laying the groundwork for a carefully orchestrated work of master film making.  Who is Keyser Soze?

[03] WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988) directed by Robert Zemeckis

My nine year old mind was blown with the fusing of film and animation in this classic flick.  A great villain, great hero and unforgettable dialogue make this one of my all time favorite movies.  This wasn't the first or only film to utilize the combination of cartoons and actors but it was my first (and arguably the best to ever do so.)  The movie set the pace for writing which lets adults and children both in on the humor with double-entendres and witty lines.  It was a riot then and still is now.

[02] RUMBLE FISH (1983) directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Shot in black and white, nearly any frame of this movie could be pulled, printed and mounted on the wall as a work of art.  The long shadows and high contrasts of alleyways, engines, stairways and rebel youth draw the viewer right into the visual adaptation of this young adult novel.  It's a class in cinematography, and also a poetic narrative on self discovery.  Confronting the violence and apathy of youth, the characters and filmmaker bring about a masterful coming of age tale.  I found this movie in my mid-20's while diving into the library of Coppola movies and was stunned by the look and the story.  The message gets deeper each time I join The Motorcycle Boy for his ride.

[01] PULP FICTION (1994) directed by Quentin Tarantino

It's been referred to as the "Film that Started It All" and it really was for me in so many respects.  I saw Pulp Fiction when it was first released to video in 1995 (I was 15.)  The modern classic opened up an entire generation to independent film when it became a smash hit after winning Cannes that year.  Tarantino brought a funk- a unique swagger with his movie.  I'd never seen anything like it (and neither had anyone else.)  The ultraviolence, the drugs, the music, the cast, the suits, the hair, the suitcase, the biblical liberties and the nonlinear story were all a new groundbreaking cinematic jazz,  It left me eager for more and sent me down of road of cinematic discovery and simmered up my interest in independent film.

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