Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

Movie Meme

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Twenty five movies you've seen that will always stick with you.

Now understand that these are not necessarily my favorite films (although, obviously, many are), they are ones that made some sort of indelible impression on me over the course of my life. In no particular order…
    This is pretty straightforward. I am a child of the 70s after all, and the social impact of this movie and its resultant sequels were enormous. My first memory of seeing a film in a theater is seeing Star Wars, which was also the first movie I ever asked to see again. And it was one of the first movies that my grandfather recorded off of HBO with this then-brand new VHS machine. And, of course, John Williams' iconic music was, for me, a gateway drug.

    Of all of the Stanley Kubrick films I could have chosen to include on this list, why am I going for the one that he was the hired hand on? It's rather simple, really: Spartacus is a great film with a good story and many colorful characters. Despite all of the Hollywood-isms, there are moments of indelible emotion in this movie. Alex North's uncompromisingly modernistic music is one of the cinema's best, and it is still begging for a complete release, as the current MCA CD features the LP program, consisting of less than a quarter of this film's far-ranging and highly thematic score.

  3. M*A*S*H
    My first Robert Altman film (not counting Popeye), and one of the first times I really noticed a director's style. A flurry of characters and a blur of loose conversation, this movie changed the way I looked at movies. The television show was good, but a very different animal. By a strange coincidence, I get tagged to do this quiz the day after I have revisited the film in its Blu-ray edition (it looks like a film now).

    Yes I am serious. And don't call me "Shirley."

    Laugh if you want, this is one of the best-written action/adventure films out there, with weighty themes and great usage of previously established characters. The nautical score by James Horner is bursting with energy, just like the film itself, which was really the last time that the original Star Trek cast was really firing on all thrusters; while many of the sequels were quite good, none had the maturity of this one.

    Jean-Luc Godard is kind of like the cinematic version of Ayn Rand: you discover their work in high school or college, are inspired by their revolutionary voices but eventually outgrow their pedantic philosophies while maintaining a certain amount of nostalgia for their work. Indeed, Breathless is a work of its time, but nothing can replace that sense of freshness that courses through a person upon their first viewing of the opening sequence, that rush that came with the realization that there were no rules.

    I think I broke something from laughing when I first heard "Uncle Fucka."

  8. ALIEN
    I remember my first viewing of this movie. My stepdad found out that I had never seen it and rented it on mom's night out, and I saw a dirty, industrial future in space rather than the flights of fancy that I had been privy to until then. It also had what would eventually become my all-time favorite movie monster, and a terrifying score by Jerry Goldsmith (albeit screwed around with in the film). For more details about my feelings about this film, check out… well… most of this blog.

    My first viewing of this film was on a letterboxed videocassette on a VCR I had gotten for my birthday that I had hooked up to a stereo system. I had heard that it was a good movie to test one's system on. I had also heard that it was a mindfuck. It was, and remains, both. Many people are turned off by the bizarre ending, but I consider it to be a logical extension of the themes of the film (i.e. the passage from order to madness). My preferred version of this movie is the original 1979 theatrical cut; I found the Redux edition overlong and messy.

    This is one of those movies that, while I can understand the criticisms leveled at, the issues the films has just don't bother me. Gritty and primitive, this is one of the few pictures that presents a believable pre-historic era. In terms of sophistication, the relationship between a film, its narrative and the music never gets any better than the heady mix of themes that Basil Poledouris concocted for this film, one of cinema's all-time greatest scores.

    I caught this weird little film from Stephen Gyllenhaal on CineMax's Vanguard Cinema way back in the day, and found it to be a very moving story about consequences with some outstanding performances. This was the first time I had ever seen Lena Headley (or her breasts) in a movie, and she has never looked better. The intensely emotional score by Carter Burwell sadly remains unreleased.

    Kids who weren't even born when this movie came out love it. What makes it work is not that it is a comedy (although it is a very good one at that), but that even if it wasn't, it still would have made a damn good adventure film, and as a result it remains one of the strongest movies of the 80s. Nifty use of some of the songs, but none of them overshadow the contribution of Elmer Bernstein, who penned one of his most memorable scores featuring one of his schlubby piano themes for Venkman and exotic sounds for the Sumerian threat; this score says "New York" to me. This is also a very quotable movie, even "And the flowers are still standing!"

    This movie is fucking scary, and if you don't think so, you should watch it again with an audience of people who have never seen it before. If you still don't think it's scary, check your pulse, you may already be a zombie. In which case, why are you reading this when you should be out there snacking on peoples' brains, you slacker!?!

    What's interesting about this is that I had read Philip K. Dick's source novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep long before I ever saw Ridley Scott's loose adaptation of it. And yes, I have to say, I think Scott's treatment was much more interesting. The film is great science-fiction, tackling big questions such what it means to be human and featuring a fully-realized future world in which people have less human than their synthetic slaves. While often criticized for being more about the background than the story, I find that is one of the film's strengths, the concentration on the future as an experience rather than as a story. My preferred version of the film is the "Final Cut," but I am quite glad that I am able to watch any previous edit of the movie now.

    While I had heard of Sir Richard Francis Burton in the past, this little-known Bob Rafelson film starring Patrick Bergin was in many ways my real introduction to this fascinating historical figure. The movie still tends to get lukewarm reviews, but it is a very involving story. Composer Michael Small demonstrated that he had a much greater range than what he was usually called upon to perform; his lush, epic score is a far cry from his paranoia thrillers of the 70s.

    Yeah, I know. I don't care, the movie was not only really good, but it also really moved me. Bernard Herrmann's most beautiful score; "Farewell" is one of the best fusions of elements in a scene, Rex Harrison's performance, Charles Lang's crisp black and white photography and Herrmann's music.

    One of Jack Nicholson's best performances, this film noir riff on the history of Los Angeles is a tour de force for Roman Polanski, who puts a European spin on a uniquely American storyline. John Huston is wonderfully creepy as a charismatic villain with some disturbingly piquant observations: "'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough." The smoky score by Jerry Goldsmith, written and recorded in record time even for him, is another feather in this film's cap.

    Instead of slavishly adhering to almost every contour of J.K. Rowling's book as the previous two features did, Alfonso Cuarón came onto this franchise like a whirlwind, concentrating more on character and emotion than story and fundamentally changing the visual approach to this world. It worked like gangbusters, giving the magical universe a real "lived-in" feeling that works wonderfully with Harry's journey throughout the film as he learns about his connections to his past. Some of the other Harry Potter movies are good, but this one is a masterpiece. The medieval flavor John Williams infused into the score made it one of the freshest of his latter-era scores.

  19. X2 (X-Men United)
    This movie came out for the summer of 2003, which was the single most miserable moment in my life. I'd taken the leave of absence to prevent myself from being laid off from my job, and after several months of no income, had just started working as a security guard, a horrible position that required me to stand in one spot for hours on end. The standing wasn't a problem, but the boredom was unbearable. Into this mess came a bright spot in the form of the action-packed but character-driven X2, which ushered in a much better period immediately thereafter.

    I first saw this film on a Beta cassette taped off of Bravo, who had aired it in letterbox format, and I have to date never seen the film in anything other than its original Techniscope aspect ratio, which is a good thing, as one of the things that makes Sergio Leone's Westerns so unforgettable is Tonino Delli Colli's brilliant use of the widescreen frame. This movie has an excellent cast featuring Claudia Cardinale in her prime, Jason Robards as a lovable bandit and Henry Fonda playing against type as one of the meanest bastards ever to participate in Manifest Destiny; it is also the best use of Charles Bronson ever. Ennio Morricone's score is yet another character in the film.

    Before Ann Rice and Stephanie Meyer, Tony Scott cast two of the sexiest people in the universe, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as vampires. It's really hard to imagine resisting their charms, so it isn't so unbelievable that a young, nubile Susan Sarandon would find herself under Deneuve's spell, especially when photographed so beautifully by Stephen Goldblatt and accompanied by such wondrous chamber music. Yes, this is a film of style over substance, but what style it is!

    Miloš Forman managed to take what could have been an extremely dry costume drama but infuses it with enough humor to elevate this dark story of jealousy into great entertainment. Wolfie's music is as much a focal point of the film as it is for the characters, and has done wonders to promote his music to newer generations. My preferred version of the film is the original theatrical cut, as I think that the "Director's Cut" is a bit ponderous and robs the film of some of its charm (although still interesting). Unfortunately, only the "Director's Cut" appears to currently be in print.

    I don't really think I have to explain this one, do I?

    Answering the question of nature versus nurture may not be quite as important to this movie as the laughs that it inspires while riffing on Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, expertly updated to the stock-and-cocaine 80s. A biting indictment of our country's supposedly classless society as well. In addition to being just plain hysterically funny, I should also mention that this movie also prominently featured Jamie Lee Curtis' breasts, which fascinated me as a child and continue to do so to this day. My family rented this movie two New Years in a row by coincidence and decided to make a tradition out of it that we still hold.

    There's no way around it, this is the single most influential film ever made. It may have not made a big splash on its original release, but its effects on every subsequent film were enormous. It is still a gripping story told through broken narrative threads, and one of the best utilization of the cinematic medium.
Tags: alex north, alien, basil poledouris, bernard herrmann, carter burwell, cinema, conan, elmer bernstein, ennio morricone, film music, ghostbusters, james horner, jean luc godard, jerry goldsmith, john williams, memes, michael small, new york, robert altman, sergio leone, stanley kubrick, x-men
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