14
Aug
2011
Random Pop Culture Top 10 List
Movies that Don't Wear Out
Rachel & Jordan
Random Pop Culture Top 10 List is a (fairly self-explanatory) biweekly list in which the Review to be named gang take stock of the realm of pop culture, and come up with their Top Ten in a specific category.

Top 10 Movies that Don't Wear Out

Some people indulge in comfort food. Some people have a security blanket. We here at Review to be named have comfort movies. Those gems we go back to again and again. The titles our friends are sick of us suggesting whenever it's time to sit down and watch a movie. The things we can watch in whatever mood, however many times, without them fading in our esteem. And so we present our Top Ten movies that don't wear out.

10. Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting just edges out Casablanca to make an appearance on this list, if only because Casablanca suffers from obvious choice syndrome (and also sometimes gets knocked out of the running by annoying friends who say things like "I don't want to watch an old/black and white movie." Note to self: stop being friends with those people). But it deserves to be here if only because it is Ben Affleck's only really bearable performance, and because it establishes Matt Damon as a golden boy. Add an impeccable soundtrack by Elliot Smith, a great performance by Robin Williams, and lines like "How do you like them apples!" and you've got an instant classic.



9. When Harry Met Sally

It has often been said that romantic comedies have destroyed people's ability to approach love realistically. If that's the case, When Harry Met Sally may be more to blame than any other. Simply put, it is the best romantic comedy of all time, and a film that warrants rewatch after rewatch. Not only does it contain the perfect chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan (two people who never managed to pull off realistic chemistry with anyone else), it also contains the quintessential non-Princess Leia performance by Carrie Fisher. Beyond that, it is full of references to perhaps the greatest romance film of all time, Casablanca. Watching two people who love a movie you love fall in love is the perfect way to spend 90 minutes, whether its for the first time or the 345th.



8. The Fall

I would rewatch this movie a million times, on mute on a flat screen in my living room, like moving art (if I could actually afford a flat screen...). And trust me, it is even better with the sound on. This imaginative tale of an injured, lovesick stuntman and a migrant worker little girl in a southern California hospital in the 1920s is both visually stunning and emotionally compelling. Made over the course of four years, with footage shot in more than 20 countries, perhaps the most amazing thing about this movie is the fact that the magical settings, which sustain a twisted fairy tale-esque story straight from the imagination of a young girl, actually exist. The incredible environment, coupled with a fantastic performance by Lee Pace (of Pushing Daisies fame, and criminally underrated and underused), make the movie stand up to rewatching in my book, and its best when shared with friends, particularly new-comers who will echo the inevitable oohs and aahs of first time watching. And somehow, I still cry almost every time.



7. Alice in Wonderland

If you're like me, almost anything by Disney (in the true Disney heyday, to be fair) merits constant rewatch. But I picked out Alice in Wonderland as the standout piece because its just so damn smart. I rewatched it recently and was as drawn to it as I was when I first watched it as a kid. So many of the scenes are downright iconic (the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, Painting the Roses Red, just to name a few) but even the connective tissue lodged in between is fantastic. Everything is so bright and imaginative that its fun to just watch, but really, it is even more fun to think about. The Caterpillar's interesting take on language, the discussion of time and madness and tyranny, all wrapped up in ways that make it palatable for children and yet amazingly intelligent.



6. Monty Python & the Holy Grail

From the moment the sound of beating hooves is revealed to be a man banging coconuts together (and even before that, for those who pay attention to subtitles), Monty Python and the Holy Grail iis basically one classic setpiece after another. From arguing about the migratory patterns of swallows to fighting a stubborn black knight, and from discussing the political leanings of a small village in Medieval England to arguing over shrubbery with the Knights Who Say Ni (or The Knights Who Formerly Said Ni, depending on when you stop by) every scene in the movie is nearly pitch perfect (until you get to the slapped on ending, but that's for another list entirely). This movie will never fail to make you laugh, and in fact, endlessly rewatching it will give you even more chances to marvel at its near perfect construction.



5. Coraline

Another cartoon, you ask? Pish posh. Coraline is so much more than a cartoon. This movie manages to magically reproduce so many aspects of childhood within a crystalline setting of imagination and nostalgia. Not to mention the pitch-perfect animation, the creepy as hell score, and the twisted story. Considering it is based on the "children's book" by Neil Gaiman, the psychological nuance of the movie should really not be questioned. As with many (if not all) of the movies on this list, Coraline can be watched in basically any condition. Coraline provides a modern-day fairy tale, with all of the lesson but none of the kitsch, dark but compelling, weird and smart and worth the rewatch. One day I hope I have children smart enough to love this movie as much as I do.



4. The Birdcage

Sometimes in life, you need to just sit back and have mindless fun for an hour and a half. We submit, if thats what you're looking for, you'll find few better options than The Birdcage . Robin WIlliams turns out to be a more than capable straight man to Nathan Lane's brilliant, Oscar-worthy turn as a dramatic drag queen. As the two try to play-it-straight for their soon-to-be-in-laws (the ultra-conservative couple played amazingly by Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest), one thing after another goes awry. Its a comedy of manners, a comedy of errors, and a blast to watch from start to finish, so much so you may find yourself watching it back to back. We know we have.




3. The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is one of the only movies we've ever seen in which every single line is a joke. A Raymond Chandler-esque romp through Los Angeles seen through the eyes of pot-addled slacker The Dude (Jeff Bridges at his best), the plot hinges around a rug that "really tied the room together," but quickly spirals into such a complex web of agendas and double crosses, it can take a few watches just to wrap you're head around what's happening. Once you figure it all out, though, every rewatch simply makes the film seem more marvelous and more brilliantly constructed. Every line works perfectly as a joke, sure, but so does every plot point, and the film sneaks its pathos in so subtly, its always a thrill to realize how gradually you came to care for characters who spent the whole movie seeming completely insane. The Coen Brothers are purveyors of near-constant cinematic gold, but when it comes to their comedies, they've never been better than in The Big Lebowski.



2. Almost Famous

If I had to pick one movie indicative of my college experience, it would be this one (and it would be the director's cut. Definitely worth the time investment, especially for a repeat watcher). Almost Famous shows rock and roll at its best: when others attempt to stifle it, shine it up, and make it something its not. William Miller (Patrick Fugit) grows up in the least rock and roll way, with a soy cutlet cooking, anti-swearing, grammar correcting, family whistle making mother. But, as history has shown, rock and roll becomes all the more potent when it is oppressed, and William takes to it with a vengeance. The film is powered by its nearly impeccable ensemble cast: Fugit as the endearingly awkward William, Kate Hudson as the legendary Penny Lane, Frances McDormand as William's neurotic mother Elaine, Billy Crudup as prodigious rock guitarist Russell Hammond, Jason Lee as the high-maintenance lead singer Jeff Bebe, Zooey Deschanel as William's older sister and introduction to rock and roll, Anita, and Anna Paquin and Fairuza Balk as Penny's disciples. It is scenes like the rendition of "Tiny Dancer" on Stillwater's tour bus, Doris, that make the film: the connection that music makes between the motley crew of outcasts. Cameron Crowe creates an alternate rock and roll universe populated by living legends, mustached musicians, bohemian drifters, and people who seem to feel deeper and live faster than modern existence allows.



1. The Dark Knight

I don't think a lot of explanation is necessary for this choice, really. The Dark Knight is so multifaceted and nuanced that not only will you enjoy every rewatch, but you'll pick up something new with each one. Unlike the equally awesome Batman Begins , The Dark Knight benefits from a lack of Katie Holmes, and the presence of perhaps the most psychologically terrifying villain ever: Heath Ledger's Joker . Yes, Batman has some cool gadgets, but to see them we have to wrestle with the idea of evil, true evil, just for evil's sake, and the meaning of justice and a lot of really heavy shit that is masked in the spectacle of it all. Somehow, the Dark Knight manages to balance blowing things up and establishing fascinating, well developed characters, providing the superhero movie experience with the brains that keep it from getting stale.





Honorable Mentions:

Love Actually



Pirate Radio



Dazed & Confused



Rear Window

v

Toy Story



Casablanca



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