If you’re like me you don’t darken the doors of a cineplex much these days, choosing to watch the latest movies via DVD player or digital streaming. Also like me you might prefer films that are, in the words of marketing experts, more niche than mainstream. Translation: films that consider 100,000 viewings a considerable feat.
It is to those films — or at least a few examples — that I turn today.
Let me start out by saying this post is not so much about my refined tastes as a lover of film as much about a few movies I want to recommend. Because I want as many people to watch these films as possible I feel I need to come clean about about my film preferences. They are commodious, ranking me somewhere between an everyman and an art-house aficionado. Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Bergman’s The Seventh Seal are two of my all-time favorites. I also love Real Genius, not exactly Val Kilmer’s finest work. So while I am a cineaste — yes I JUST used that word — I’m all about movies of varying types of artistic quality, insight and technical prowess. In other words, give me Iron Man, Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead over artistic jewels that try too hard. Give me Dodgeball, Zoolander and The Anchorman — hell, Caddyshack, Back to School or The Hangover— over The Last Emperor or Howard’s End. (O.K., yes, I loved City of God and In the Bedroom, and I’m still a bit embittered 15 years after the fact that Forrest Gump beat out Pulp Fiction for the Best Picture Oscar. But I’ve watched The Bourne Ultimatum like 20 times and still secretly love it when Jason Bourne jumps through that window from the roof of a nearby building.)
Point is, I am not a film snob.
So when I say you need to watch the movies I’m about to recommend it’s not coming from some esoteric appreciation for style or technical creativity. It’s about the storytelling, and how these stories made me feel, which is sad, quiet but also strangely wiser and connected to the world around me. In other words, alive. Continue reading