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FAV MOVIES_my top ten

March 4, 2010

A few weeks months ago a coworker/buddy/old-film-school-peer asked a question of me: What are your ten favorite movies? I find it rather amusing that anybody that has any film school experience, or anyone that has really been captured by cinema, knows never to ask: “what is your favorite movie?” As if there can be only one (ah, a Highlander reference… that should be on my list!)    Anyway, it was something I hadn’t thought about in some time.  It seems over the last few years I had distanced myself from film, being much more absorbed in comics and literature and my own writing in general.  This year, however, I’ve decided to get back into it – both watching and writing.  Film, after all, is a wonderful – if not the most efficient – form of storytelling.

Kill the Batman.

Now on to my list, which was much harder to compile than I expected.  In no particular order…

2001 A Space Odyssey. I don’t think any film has ever captured my imagination like this film had.  I kind of stumbled into it as a clueless adolescent.  At the time, I knew nothing of Stanley Kubrick and I knew nothing of this iconic masterpiece.  Instead, I stumbled across Arthur C. Clarke’s companion novel (written concurrently as the film was in production) in the school library.  It was an old well-worn edition and I remember being transfixed by the first few chapters.  Finishing the book, and sharing my excitement with my parents, they immediately pointed my toward the film.  Coming across an ancient (well-played) VHS copy, I sat down late at night to watch it… and my mind was blown away.  Stanley Kubrick was a genius.  I’ve been hooked on film, and story telling in general, ever since.

Children of Men. I walked into this film with zero expectations.  It was a matinee show just after the holidays.  I figured it was sci-fi and post-apocalyptic.. and that should be enough to entertain me for a few hours.  Wow.  This movie is incredible.  Without a doubt the most intense scenes I have ever seen.  A technical marvel: the shot lengths, the production design, the writing… they blew my mind.  Alfonso Cuaron, the director, is brilliant… and not just because he fully emulated Stanley Kubrick — in fact, Children of Men straight up feels like a Kubrick movie.  Okay, well, maybe that is why he’s brilliant.   Nevertheless, I look forward to more of his work.

Godfather Part 2. It’s really hard for me to pick between the first two Godfather films.  Both are extraordinary.  For the sake of this list, I lean more toward Part 2… if only because so many of the storylines planted in the first film pay off so nicely in the second.  Coppola’s direction is phenomenal and the cast is unreal… Pacino, DeNiro, Keaton.  The scene where Michael slaps Kay… ah!  The scene where (spoiler alert!) Fredo is “taken care of”… Michael’s reaction to the gunshot echoing across the lake… heartbreaking.  Ah!  So freaking good!

Raiders of the Lost Ark. Hands down, the best action movie ever.  no “macgruffin” in the history of film has completely overshadowed its main character, especially a character as iconic and legendary as Indiana Jones.… a problem severely evident in each of the sequels.  This film’s scale is so epic, so biblical, there are few movies quite like it.  To be honest, I love the Easter holiday because every year the networks air The Ten Commandments… the ultimate prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Just as Bollock says in the film: “we are simply passing through history  This.  This is history” the viewer comes away feeling the same way.  This, this film, is history.    Steven Speilberg, love him or hate him, HAD talent, this movie is proof.  And, once upon a time, George Lucas KNEW how to capture an audience’s imagination.  Oh man, this movie, without question, has one of the best endings ever… I mean, come on, God kills the Nazis.  Divine intervention at it’s finest.  And then the warehouse scene… nothing will ever match it… I wish Spielberg and Lucas would just stop trying already.

Back to the Future. This seems to be the most lighthearted film on my list and certainly the only comedy (though is it truly a comedy?)  Back to the Future is a fantastic movie… one most people don’t appreciate. Sure it’s Michael J. Fox.  Sure it’s classic ‘80s pop culture.  But have you ever realized how well written this film is?  The structure, the pacing, are fantastic. The characters are so well written and so well performed you feel as though they’re old friends.  Robert Zemeckis will always hold a special place in my heart because of this film… even if he has made nothing but crap since (yes, Forrest Gump now falls into my ‘crap’ pile… though probably unjustly.)  Seriously though, when is the last time you went to the movies and had as much as fun as the first time you saw BTTF?  That’s what I thought.

The Shining. Kubrick again, go figure.  If Back to the Future is my favorite comedy, this is, obviously, my favorite horror film.  Again, Kubrick shows he’s a master of pacing, of nuance.  And Nicholson plays the role so well that, in my mind, this may be his best performance (only because his over acting so fits the character.) If I ever go homicidal, I hope it’s a lot like this movie… and I end up freezing to death in a garden maze.  At least once in my life I’d like to chop down a door like that… ha.  I’m joking… maybe…

Superman.  The superhero movie of my childhood.  I actually have memories of watching this movie (actually, it was Superman 2) thinking it was a news broadcast and that the fight between Superman and the Kryptonians was actually happening downtown.  Ha.  What a world we live in as children.  And imagine my surprise as I grew up to realize that Superman The Movie is a shockingly good film.  At a time when superheroes were nothing more than campy parodies, the filmmakers (my beloved Richard Donner) reinvented the genre.  The movie is epic, sweeping, and, when you consider that Lois Lane does in fact die – only to upset Superman so much that he TURNS BACK TIME, awesome.  I still get chills when Superman catches Lois in his arms (“You’ve got me?!  Whose got you?!”)… and then the helicopter.  Name me one superhero introduction in a movie as cool as that.

King King. I’m talking about the RKO original… not Peter Jackson’s travesty (even the Jeff Bridges remake in the 70s was more enjoyable than that.)  Yes, sir.  King Kong takes me back, way back.  My mom use to work for Carnegie Mellon University and it seems I was often brought along, thrown in a conference room, and left in front of a TV and VCR (that was some serious technology back them) with King King playing.  Kong was the best babysitter I ever had.  This movie is a classic among classics.  You can look at it as deep as you want… is King Kong another victim of capitalism?  Or is he just a giant ape swatting at bi-planes?  Either way, it’s awesome.

Vanishing Point. Now this is trippy, psychedelic cinema at it’s finest.  Some people may find this film unwatchable… but, for me, the mixture of ’70s muscle car, ’70s drug use, ‘70s music, and ‘70s cinematography and editing is glorious.  The dude needs to get from Denver to San Fran in 15 hours.  Why?  It doesn’t matter.  Just give the guy some speed and here we go…

The Dark Knight. The superhero movie of my adulthood.  I was looking forward to this movie for years… but I’ll be honest, I was half expecting a bust.  I mean, just a few summers removed from Superman Returns, TDK had all the signs of a colossal letdown.  The trailers kicked ass… but it was just too good to be true, right?  I guess sometimes dreams do come true… and as a life-long Batman fan this adaptation was literally that: a dream come true.

And there you have it.  My top ten… at the moment.  I should hurry up and publish this before I start changing my mind…

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. justin permalink
    March 4, 2010 6:23 pm

    Hey Kugler,
    Thanks for introducing me to vanishing point. I do love this movie, you can’t stop kawalski.

  2. cklockwork permalink*
    March 4, 2010 6:25 pm

    if you’re Kowalski, I’ll be Super Soul. haha — the ending is so great.

  3. JOE permalink
    March 5, 2010 1:32 pm

    Kubrick is a GOD! Had fun checking this out thanks Kugler!

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