January 15, 2007

My Top 5 ... uh ... 39 Movies (So Far)

[Note: Due to time constraints, I haven't been able to finish this meme just yet, and I don't know when I'll get it done (insha'allah, later in the week). So I'm going to post the first couple of paragraphs that I've written so far and, insha'allah, I'll finish this up soon.]

It's been ages since I've been tagged with a meme, but seeing how the last time MENJ asked me to do one and I didn't, and that this meme is on a topic of interest to me, I thought I'd do this one...sort of.

The meme is actually to choose your top 5 favorite movies, but I love movies so much that to choose only five is...well, impossible. In fact, in trying to make my movie selections, I thought I'd first categorize the movies into five types and then select the best movie in each group...and that didn't even work. So here are my top 36...er, 37...uh, 39 movies (so far). :)

Science Fiction
I've been reading SF since I was a teenager, and my tastes in SF tend toward realism (what's called "hard SF" among the SF community). With that in mind, probably my earliest favorite SF movie was "2001: A Space Odyssey." That movie was one of the first to have "realistic" looking space technology, and I really loved that look. I used to try to design the space station and various spacecraft from the movie during study hall in high school. :)

In the late 70s, I caught the Lucas/Spielberg bug: "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (which my dad and I saw together at the theater) is a great movie about obsession, treated in a very humane way. Of course, "Star Wars" is also a good movie (replayed on TV this past Sunday night), but "The Empire Strikes Back" (coming up on TV this Sunday) is my all-time favorite Star Wars movie. I enjoy "dark" movies and, of course, the "I am your father" revelation by Darth Vader was a great twist at the time. Back to Spielberg, "ET: The Extra-Terrestrial" struck a nerve with me when it was released in '82. I had just moved away from home (permanently) a few months before the movie came out and the theme of homesickness really shook me up. I probably saw the movie about a dozen times at the theater that summer.

Another great - and very underrated - movie that came out soon thereafter was "Tron." The storyline wasn't much, but the computer graphics were quite revolutionary for the era and the very last scene, the time-lapse night scene that resembles the data speeding through the computer in the movie, made me rethink how to look at our world as a whole. (And have you ever noticed that the ending of Will Smith's "I Robot" was taken straight from "Tron?" Milady did.)

In the mid 80s, I really loved "The Road Warrior" with Mel Gibson. (Milady groans.) The plot is a retelling of the siege of Troy, and some year I should write a little more about the similarities between this movie and the Trojan War, insha'allah. (But not now.) Finally, SF movies in the 90s and 00s haven't really struck me as much as the earlier movies did. The Matrix movies were good, and I enjoyed "The Matrix Reloaded" the most. That second movie in the trilogy seems to me to be the most "Matrixish." (The third movie is too much your standard action movie.)

War Movies
This is another category that, on the face of it, you'd think would be easy to choose one movie above all...but, noooo! "Patton," with George C. Scott, is a strong favorite. My parents used to have the soundtrack for that movie, and that made a strong impression on me as well. Another great, but old (1962) movie is "Laurence of Arabia." (Milady groans again.) Despite loving the movie, I've yet to get past the first few pages of Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom," which is supposed to be an excellent book.

Another great, but even older (1953) movie is "Stalag 17," which the 60s TV series, "Hogan's Heroes," is based off of. Robert Strauss, who played "Animal" in the movie, steals the show with a great over-the-top performance (he was nominated for an Academy Award - Best Supporting Actor - for that role).

Once again, Spielberg makes my list with two greats: "Saving Private Ryan" (the first 20 minutes of which will give anyone post-traumatic stress disorder) and "Schindler's List." The last movie for this section is Akiro Kurosawa's "Ran." The movie is one of Kurosawa's adaptations of a Shakespearean play turned into a Samurai classic. "Ran" is very loosely based on "King Lear," and is a very artistic and stylish movie (with heavy doses of blood and gore). (I've been thinking of how I could turn "King Lear" into a modern adaptation based here in S'pore.)

Future categories (insha'allah): Comedy/Romantic Comedy, Drama and Other.


Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

I don't watch movies much any more, so I'm not up to date. But in the "war movies" category, have you ever seen the classic film "The Best Years of Their Lives"? It's about veterans coming back after WWII, including one who lost his arm. I'm reminded of it when I see articles about all the American soldiers coming back from Iraq missing limbs.

JDsg said...

Wa 'alaikum salaam.

No, actually, I haven't seen that movie, which is a bit surprising considering that I do enjoy watching old movies such as this. A similar movie on the same topic was "Born on the Fourth of July" with Tom Cruise. And speaking of American soldiers who are amputees, Esquire had a recent cover with a blonde American soldier (triple amputee) displaying his purple heart medal. The picture can be seen here.