My Top 101 Films Part 9 (of 10)

We're getting so close to the final post.  It's about time, right?  So here we go with more of my favorites.  And for those not paying attention, here are the previous entries!

Rent (2005)

DVD Cover - Rent
To some who have read through my previous movies, may come to this one and decide that I am committing some kind of sin by putting a film that is an adaptation of a musical as one of my favorites.  Damn me as you must, but I do like this film--in part, because I have never seen Rent as a musical.  Mayhaps I would feel different, but as a fan of musical movies (there are clearly several on this list), I enjoyed the rock opera approach to Rent, the characters, the storylines and the music.  Having seen the movie, I can understand why people like and find this as an important musical of the 1990s.  I also like that they were able to bring in most of the original cast to make the movie.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)

I remember Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes getting a lot of flack for this film.  In part, the critique that adapting Shakespeare into a modern tale of gang violence seemed somehow outrageous, even though it fit quite well.  I also know that they were teen heartthrobs and thus, their status discredited their potential.  But the reality is, the film still holds up almost twenty years later and it's telling that both actors have gone on to do additionally great work.   I think that the film is more accessible to a modern audience because of its setting and cast make it a more important film than previous renders.  Unlike others, I find that remakes are in fact necessary and useful.  They are not signs of a lack of imagination but rather informative of how we imagine and experience things differently.  The film is visually spectacular and well-constructed with its scenery.  I also love the soundtrack and it was one of the early films to which I found the movie powerfully (and consciously) enhanced through the music. 

The trailer for this film can be found here.

Run Lola Run (1999)

Another film with another great soundtrack--that seems to be the theme in the previous film, this one, and the next.  But beyond the soundtrack, Run Lola Run is a fascinating "What If" film, that reminds me of the TV show Sliders to a certain degree--but done much better.  The film retells the tale of two lovers and the choices they do and don't make three times, exploring how choices can entirely redirect our future.  It's a fascinating film to watch because as a viewer, we often try to imagine what would happen if the character turned left instead of right.  It doesn't matter how many times we see a film, we often still try to will the character away from his or her demise.  This film captures and we as viewer no longer need to will the characters to their survival but rather wait and see which decisions can lead to their salvation.  It's also an interesting film that engages with the ideas of action and inaction and when do you chose which (or if inaction is actually inaction for that matter but willing other forces to happen). 

This film can be found here.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

DVD Cover - Scott Pilgrim vs the World
For me, the film is so much more than the graphic novel.  I read some of the comic series and though it is enjoyable, it is nothing in contrast to the auditory and visual delight that I find when watching the film.  Michael Cera as the titular Scott Pilgrim embodies the mixture of quirky and awkward (quirkward?) and the mixture of music, 1980s video game sound effects, fantastic color schemes, and outrageous (yet appropriate) special effects come together for a fantastic experience.  The film feels like its two parts video game, two parts fantastic aural voyage, and one part plot--but that's ok.  The plot is present but plays second fiddle to the energy that is overflowing with this film.  It's a popcorn flick that hits the highwater mark of exciting and amusing.  

The trailer for this film can be found here.

Secretary (2002)

DVD Cover - Secretary
I'm not sure that this film succeeds in any good way in  terms of exploring and illustrating BDSM as an acceptable practice.  Those within the community are of varying opinions.  As an outsider, I do think it provides some potential positive elements and takes away from some of the misunderstandings (though it creates others).  But I do appreciate the film as a whole and the fantastic chemistry between Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader--it's quite palpable.  I also find that the film teaches much about the nature of power and agency in ways that other films can sometimes miss, especially relational power.  There's a part of me that can never watch The Office without thinking that Spader is the same character in the show as he is in this film, which makes so much of what he does in The Office, that much funnier.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.

Series 7:  The Contenders (2001)

This probably stands as one of my favorite films of all time (it would definitely be on my top 5 if I was ranking these).  The premise of the film is that it is the seventh season of a show called, The Contenders--a reality TV show, wherein they go to a town and five people are selected by lottery--the sixth person is the winner from the previous season.  Each person is given a gun and a filming crew and the last person standing is the winner.  The person from the 6th season is an 8-month pregnant woman named Dawn, who they decide to bring her to her home town for this season.  The premise of the show seems rather plain--after all, there is subgenre of films that are supposed to be reality-TV shows (often gone wrong).  But this film was made in 2000, just at the birth of reality TV.  However, the show nails the concept and this "best clips" film is so well composed with its commercial segues and musical backdrop to self-reflective moments with the camera that it's hard not to be impressed with how well the film captures and comments upon the the nature of reality TV.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

DVD Cover - Shaun of the Dead
It's a beautiful satirical work that can both embody and critique a genre and Shaun of the Dead nails it.  But what's great about the film is that it's amusing and entertaining not just for your standard zombie-film junkie but for everyone.  There are many inner jokes and references but they are slipped in so smoothly, the newcomer doesn't realize it and doesn't need to in order to enjoy the film.  Simon Pegg as your every-man asshat proves that civilization can't keep a good man down, especially when the zombie apocalypse comes to town.  It's a film that often gets better with rewatching as you pick up on different details that realized were built into the film to offer the more dedicated viewer a wink and a nod.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.

Singin in the Rain (1952)

I had the titular song of this film stuck in my head for about six months.  No lie--every time my mind went background music, it was Singin' in the Rain.  It happened long enough that I finally succumbed to seeing the movie and enjoyed it.  I've often been a fan of films or stories that are about the emergence of media--whether it be film, television, comics, the internet, it's always curious and fascinating how we try to retell the stories of our creations.  Beyond the plot, the music was also seductive and enjoyable with its light melodies and accompanying dancing.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.

Spaceballs (1987)

DVD Cover - Spaceballs
I've talked about Spaceballs elsewhere on this blog.  It is a film that I know by heart and can still repeat lines from--probably at one point, every line.  Many consider other films classic Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles) and much of Brooks is always high in my book, but Spaceballs is one of my earlier adventures into parody and I completely fell in love with it.  It's interesting that years later, I realize that this film along with The Never-Ending Story were essential for introducing me into meta-fiction and other post-modern ideas, many of which made shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy so funny.  It was also such a great collection of actors and actresses coming together to make this mockery fo Star Wars that it was hard not to enjoy seeing them on screen--including one of my favorites, John Candy.  
The trailer for this film can be found here.

Star Wars (1977-)

DVD Cover - Star Wars Saga
Here, I am referencing the entire series--films 1-6.  I grew up loving Episodes 4-6 and have learned to love Episodes 1-3.  I get why people don't like them and there are times when I curse the casting of Hayden Christiansen as Anakin because he seems whiny beyond all comprehension, but then again, I can't stand Boba Fett and people like to think he's cool (world's best bounty hunter; done in by a blind Han Solo).  But I grew up with watching the original trilogy ibn VHS and watched the prequel trilogy on the big screen.  Between the two series, I read at least a hundred novels and graphic novels about the Star Wars universe known as the Expanded Universe.  It's not for everyone but it was as fantastical adventure as were many of the other films mentioned in this list (e.g. Dark Crystal, The Hobbit, Never-Ending Story).  It's not that I think the films are great in some kind of higher aesthetic assessment, but they are merely great to me.  I enjoy them.  I know I can pop in any one of the films and get lost in the universe presented before me.  It was one of the earlier films to introduce me to grand concepts of good and evil as well as sacrifice, surprises, and tragedy.  Star Wars is to me, what great epics were to previous generations.

The trailer for this film can be found here.

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

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