My Top 101 Films Part 6 (of 10)

I'm finally getting back to discussing some of my favorite films.  I hope by the time I finish I won't have to add 10 more.  
Here's the running list of previous entries!

Let the Right One In (2008)

DVD Cover - Let the Right One In
This Swedish film focuses on the relationship between an adolescent vampire and the friendship developed with Oscar, a bullied and disconnected youth.  As the two come to know, understand, and care for one another, Eli, the vampire-teen has to avid detection while also getting the blood needed to survive.  The film is fascinating not only for exploring vampires in a non-sexual way (for the most part) but also because it is so beautifully shot.  The contrast of the bright snowy-landscapes with the dark and depressive nights as well as the selective use of gore.  It measures decently up with the book, though the film doesn't provide the viewer with as much to question about Oscar and his intentions as the book does.

The trailer for this film can be found here.

L.I.E. (2001)

DVD Cover - LIE
A film in many ways akin to Happiness, it deals with the budding sexuality of a young male whose parents are absent from his life (his mother being dead and his father too busy having sex or going to jail).  Herein, the protagonist falls in with the wrong crowd at a time when his sexuality is developing and it leads him down some dangerous roads.  However, what the film captures well throughout the film is the young adults' agency with regards to their actions.  This doesn't excuse what happens to them or somehow lessens the violation by the questionable antagonist (played quite well by Brian Cox).  But the agency displayed helps to remind us that young adults are not entirely incapable of understanding the dynamics of their situation.  I think the film does well to show that the young men are victimized by circumstances and neglectful or predatorial adults but they are not necessarily victims.

The film can be found here.

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

DVD Cover - Life Is Beautiful
The movie is beautiful as much as it is tragic.  The depths to which a father will go in order to protect and hide his son from the tragedies of the Holocaust are bittersweet.  The ending is tear-worthy sad.  The contrast of humor with tragedy is so well balanced so as not to make light of the Holocaust but rather show the degrees to which parents will go to protect their children.  Robert Benini's performance is phenomenal and the ways in which he can change the mood of a scene is wonderful.  This was one of the first films that made me fall in love with storytelling on the big screen.  Yes, I always loved movies, but this film made me feel something fundamental about the power of a good story told in televisual form.  

The trailer for this film can be found here.

Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

I do love me some epic fantasy--always have and always will.  Of course, I wasn't impressed with the first of the trilogy because as I've always understood The Fellowship of The Ring, it is largely composed of walking, talking, fighting, repeat.  However, I can remember sitting in the theater with excitement and anxiety as part of the fellowship fought to protect caste in The Two Towers as well as the concern for Frodo, Sam, and even Gollum in Return of the King.  I was equally fascinated with the films having seen Meet The Feebles (another film I'll be talking about in this best of list).  Many aren't fans of the series because it doesn't provide everything the books do, but I also think that Jackson creates a vivid and rich world that one can easily get lost in. 

The trailer for this film can be found here.

Love Actually (2003)

DVD Cover - Love Actually
I do like romantic comedies when they are original or have a good mixture of wit and I found that to be the case with Love Actually.  I think the ensemble cast each with their own type of love-story to enact from the serious to the inane make it such an enjoyable movie.  One cannot watch the film and not find himself or herself in at least one or more of the stories that are present within the film.  What I also enjoy about it, more than your traditional romantic comedy is that it shows a great many different types of love--from romantic to fraternal to paternal and so on.  It's more about the bonds we form (and dissolve) in our lives than it is just about your traditional "love story."

The trailer for this film can be found here.

Love Me If You Dare (2003)

DVD Cover - Love Me If You Dare
Warning:  Take no insight into my love of this film with regards to how I personally experience and think about relationships.  This is probably the best love story I've ever seen.  While it is hard to put any film as my favorite all-time film, this film is definitely on my top five list.  I think what I like about it so much is that the love between these two characters is so strong, so powerful and so utterly destructive.  There is no doubt that these two should be together and yet, equally so, there is no doubt that these two should be apart.  Their love is amazing, powerful, and beautiful in many ways but also entirely destructive.  This is captured in one great scene in the movie where Julien is shown kidnapping someone tying a noose around their neck that's connected to a beam while the man is standing on Julien's car and he is about to drive away.  The film is quick to point out that this is a dream but the audience knows that this is the future of the game of love (which is the actual name of the film in French) in which these two play.  I also love the ending because you're never quite sure whether it is real or not.

The film can be found here.

Ma Vie En Rose (1997)

DVD Cover - Ma Vie En Rose
A beautiful and delightful film that preceded Billy Elliot but in some ways follows a similar projection.  The protagonist of the film is a young male who perceives herself a girl and continues to do so.  The story follows the family as they resist, fight, and eventually become an advocate of the young girl.  It's a fantastic film that raises questions about gender and sex norms as well as raises the questions of love and family.  The young actor, Georges Du Fresne does so well in the role and there are so many times you want to reach out and hug the child in compassion.

The trailer for this film can be found here.

Maltese Falcon (1941)

DVD Cover - Maltese Falcon
I never watched this film until my twenties and was assigned it as part of a film in popular culture course.  I'm glad I did and continue to regularly watch it.  First, it put into perspective a bajillion popular culture references I had been exposed to over the years (particular with Bugs Bunny).  But more so, I finally why it was such a great film, why Humphrey Bogart is so applauded, and why film noir is seen as so fantastic.  Along the way, I also learned that it was in fact the 3rd remake of Dashiell Hammett's novel in about a decade (that's right--3rd remake with about 10 years--think about that the next time someone expounds upon remakes being valueless).  The film in itself isn't so great, but it's such a great film within the film noir genre.  The witty lines, the slugging, femme fatale--it all comes together nicely and Bogart makes such a great lead.  What also struck me about this film when I first saw it was how well it worked as a black-and-white film.  As a kid, I thought black and white was useless, but I can see through this film that it made the film more powerful.

The trailer for this film can be found here.

Meet the Feebles (1989)

DVD Cover - Meet the Feebles
Imagine the Muppets on crack--to the tenth power and you will enter the world of Meet the Feebles.  The film is about a group (the Feebles--puppet characters) who are producing a variety show for television that evening and if it goes well, they will be syndicated.  However, there is so much going on behind the scenes that is wrong and perverted that it's hard not to watch the film and feel some level of discomfort.  Part of what makes me love this movie so much is that Peter Jackson did this before The Lord of The Rings trilogy and I can only think that no one ever watched this before giving him all that money to do those movies.  It's great in the vein of Team America--but with more perversion than you would think possible with animal puppets.

The film can be found here.

Memento (2000)

I saw Memento at a theater with my friend in Danvers.  She recommended it and I figured, sure why not.  But the film taught me much about sequence and the art of storytelling.  I was fascinated by the construction and execution of the film and quickly became a fan of Christopher Nolan.  It was also showed me how something like black-and-white can be used effectively in a modern film.  

The trailer for this film can be found here.  For those interested, the film is also online in chronological order here.

Your turn!  What are some of your favorite films and why?  Post them in the comments!

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