Friday, August 04, 2006

Extensive Movie List (Pt. 2)

Part Two: Drama

21 Grams
Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts star in this story of lives connected by tragedy. This is a beautiful film that is disjointed, disturbing and yet so pleasing. I can't tell you the plot without giving away the movie. It's the beauty of discovering the story as it unfolds that is part of what makes this film so great.

Probably one of my favorite films of all time. An ensemble drama with an all-star cast, directed by the guy who wrote Million Dollar couldn't get much better. The story centers around L.A. and the idea that all races delve into racism in some way, simply because we're human. We find scenes where a white police officer is racist against a black woman, only to find in the next scene that black woman spewing racial epitaphs to her black husband. There are parts of this movie that are discturbing, but, in this writer's opinion, they are disturbing because they need to be disturbing. This film should be required viewing for ever high school student. It is that important.

Shawshank Redemption
This is one of the first R-rated films I ever saw and I never forgot it. The film, set in the 1950's and based on a Stephen King short story, stars Tim Robbins as a man wrongly convicted of killing his philandering wife and her lover, who meets an older black man in prison (played by Morgan Freeman). It is an interesting story of redemption, following Tim Robbins as he finds freedom in the confines of a dirty prison.

Everything Is Illuminated
Elijah Wood stars as an obsessive compulsive young man who collects things of his family in order to remember them. He only has one piece of "memory" of his gradfather, a Jew who had escaped from the Ukraine during the 2nd World War. Wood decides to find out more about his grandfather by traveling to the Ukraine. This is one of my favorite films I have seen in a long time. It is hilarious, but has a knack for turning on its head to be touching within seconds. Leiv Schreiber makes his directorial debut and I dare say that he has long missed his calling. The film is beautiful.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
I have heard of many people quitting this film before it finished because they thought it was boring. Believe it or not, this film is like 6th Sense in that the ending is what makes the film. It is at the end of this film that you realize that the film wasn't slow at all. It was just building towards this crescendo of emotion, so that when you reach the end of the film the only thing you can feel is exactly what Charlie Kaufmann wanted you to feel. In order to know what that feeling is, you'll have to watch it. Oh, by the way, every person in the film (Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Wilkinson) is amazing.

American Beauty
This film is another Kevin Spacey film that is a must see. The movie begins with a voice over where Spacey tells us that this is the day that he dies. The story that is told is disturbing not because it is scary or suspenseful, but because it is the average every day American life: a loveless marriage held together because it is what is expected; a father and daughter who love each other but can never quite find the words to say; and a group of subplots that exploit all of these weaknesses in the family's constitution. As the film moves towards resolution, the viewer feels more and more uncomfortable with how the film is turning out and I think that was the point of it. When it finally comes to the place where Spacey's character dies, you actually have come to resonate with his character and his redemption.

Mystic River
I am not a fan of Clint Eastwood films. But this story of life and death in Boston is an exception. The incredible cast is actually well-directed and the trio of Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon make this film great. Sean Penn's daughter is killed on the same night that Tim Robbins comes home covered with blood. As we find out more and more about the trio of friends we start to see why Tim Robbins is a stoner loser. Kevin Bacon got our of the neighborhood as a cop and is trying to solve the daughter's murder. As the story unfolds and comes to an end it is actually disturbing.

History of Violence
This film was one of my favorites of last year. The movie is based on a graphic novel, and stars Viggo Mortenson as a mild-mannered, married father who runs a small-town restaurant. 2 men try to rob the store and he kills them very quickly. This leads to press coverage and it causes some people from Philly to believe he is the long-lost brother of a big-time mobster. Of course, Viggo's character denies. Are the rumors true? You have to watch the film to find out.

Almost Famous
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Cameron Crowe has a way of writing films that are positive without being cheesy. This story, loosely based on Crowe's life, is no different. The main character is a young writer in love with music who gets the chance to write an article about Black Sabbath for a small publication. Along the way he runs into another band called Stillwater; Rolling Stone finds some of his writings and want him to write an article; he decides to write on Stillwater. To make a long story short, he goes on tour with the band and writes an article about them warts and all. He falls in love with Penny Lane, who is in love with Stillwater's lead guitaristt. It's a touching dramedy that you need to see tonight.


... said...

Hey, watch American Beauty again, notice that every character turns out the opposite of what's either expected of them, and/or your original perception of them. (i.e. that the rigid military guy is gay, and Mena Suvari's coquettish attitude is simply a facade.)

... said...

...which when I thought about it just now, applies to you too. When I first saw you on AI, I thought you were another goofy guy just trying to get on TV, and then you turn out to have this amazing voice and you're really serious about it, and you've got your great sense of dark humour.

So basically, you're the American Beauty of American Idol.

...And I'm rooting for you to win! Go Chris!~

Nikay said...

I love Eternal Sunshine as well :)

AshG said...

Crash is terrific, Shawshank is classic and Almost Famous touches close to home with me. I have to throw a proverbial flag on History of Violence. I just didnt get it. The opening scene was painfully methodical, in both execution and tempo. The movie just felt too deliberate or something. I know I am the minority but I am not a Cronenberg fan.