Movies I recommend
I love sitting in my recliner with a blanket over my legs and the lights dimmed.
I don't want to rehash the movies everyone knows. These lists are meant to hightlight
films you might not find on your own. Or if you know one of them, then I think you'll
enjoy others in the same category.
Click on a link to the left, read a few, tell me what you think.
Sure, there are lots of great movies, but I certainly don't like them all. Looking
for a rewarding night staring at the screen? If you watch one of these, you know
it's going to be good.
The Man Who Would Be King Two members of the Masonic lodge head into the
wilds of central Asia to take over a country in the late 1800's. Great views and
great drama with a bit of action along the way. Good movie for men and women. With
Sean Connery and Michael Caine. My favorite movie.
Running On Empty A pair of aged hippies are in hiding from the FBI for a
bombing that happened years ago. Their son is about to graduate from high school
and that forces the family almost into the open. With Judd Hersch
Unstrung Heroes A young boy and his off beat father ignore his mother's
terminal illness. The father works harder, the boy hangs out with his certified crazy
uncles. Be prepared to cry.
Glengarry Glennross Tale of two dishonest real-estate salesmen, one on the
way up, one on the way down. It's an intimate view of an ugly side of life. They
must say "fuck" a million times in this movie. As in, "Get your fucking
feet off my desk." "This ain't your fucking desk anymore." "Tom,
tell Sam to get his fucking feet off my fucking desk." "That desk is for
closers. Why don't you go close some fucking sales?" Jack Lemmon plays the role
as Death of a Salesman, while Al Pacino is the young whippersnapper. It's a star
studded cast. (I say it's little known, but *every* salesman I know can quote the
lines. Even those who don't know the movie say "ABC: Always Be Closing".)
Searching For Bobby Fischer Sounds like a dud. I thought it would be some
ridiculous story of an ego maniac. Instead it is a heart warming story of a young
boy growing up and his relationship with his father.
The Life of David Gale I watched this entranced. Sure, the dialog in the
first scene is a bit trite, and we did guess the ending. Still, powerful movie for
me. I sent an email to a bunch of friends and then I found a review calling it the
worst movie of 2003. I guess I'm an idiot.
Memento He can only remember three minutes and this movie forces you to
live that horror with him. Brilliant. I hear that on the DVD you can watch the movie
backwards, which is a trip. This is almost a time travel flick.
I like a good time travel movie. One that treats the subject with the right amount
of plausibility or just craziness. These are some of my favorites.
The Navigators: A Medieval Odyssey A dark Australian movie set in the dark
ages. I can't say more about it without giving away the plot, but this one is great.
And this is
not the movie about the kid who drives a spaceship.
Time Lapse Wow! Every day they get to send a little message to the past.
Mind blowing twists, try to keep up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel A couple of mates in a pub
get pulled into a time travel adventure / love story. While there's plenty of humor,
they also treat time travel in a serious way.
Looper Using time traveling contract hit men to commit untraceable murders.
The last person a hit man kills is his future self to seal the deal.
Groundhog Day A Bill Murray comedy. He keeps working on it day after day
Primer I'll be honest, I had to read Wikipedia to figure out how this one
worked. I like the low budget approach to the film and the deep complexity of time
travel it uses.
Movies with Big Twists
If you like to be surprised, these will do it. I can't say too much about them without
giving it away. Thinking about it, I'm amazed that these movies have very little
graphic violence in them. Good stories with suspense and then a twist that makes
your head spin.
Sleuth Movie adaptation of a stage play. An old man and a young buck fight
over his wife. A top quality mystery that keeps you going all the way to the end.
The story is slow to develop, but if you can stick with it you'll be rewarded with
a great show. Done in the 60's, you have to be in the mood for older production values.
No blood, no guts, and incredible twists. With Sir Lawrence Olivier and Michael Caine.
Body Heat A scared woman needs help from her lawyer. Whew, hot sex. (Kathleen
Turner, William Hurt)
Dead Again Two dead people come back to avenge their murders. Once the twist
is exposed my brain went into overload trying to remember what clues I'd missed.
(Ok, this one has some freaky violence at the end. Close your eyes.) (Kenneth Branagh)
The Usual Suspects A caper film. Kevin Spacey gives a great performance.
The Game Tired of his easy life, a rich businessman signs up for a reality
game. (Michael Douglas)
Fight Club I was prepared to hate it, but loved it. By the time the fighting
starts, it almost makes sense. The violence is physical, but not overdone. (Brad
Set in the Past
These gems are set in a place earlier than 1950. I like that you not only get a
good story, you also see what the director thinks of the period.
The Name of the Rose A mystery set in the dark ages involving a famous,
April and the Extraordinary World This is an animated film that posits what
1950 would look like if electricity had never been invented. Steam punk rules in
this enjoyable story.
Not strictly SciFi, but set in the future with themes that pull you in.
What Happened To Monday? A distopian future where couples can keep only
one child, yet this couple manages to hide their litter of 7. A thriller.
Ex Machina A rich guy in Seattle creates the pefect woman cyborg and tricks
a young programmer into testing her humanity.
Blade Runner I have to mention this because it is such a fantastic film.
Harrison Ford is searching for escaped replicants in this dystopian future.
The Lobster Thanks to Marie for the recommendation. This is a very quirky
film about how society emphasizes the need to be "in a relationship" and ostrasizes
those who are not.
A lot of documentaries are ho-hum affairs. Lots of data, some shocking revelation.
But still putting you to sleep. The ones here have some interesting story telling
Spellbound This is the story of six children who compete in the national
spelling bee. Again, it sounds like a dud, but it's a wonderful look at how each
family responds differently to the pressure.
Wordplay A delightful documentary of the national crossword puzzle championships.
If you like the Sunday NY Times puzzle (I do) then you will love this movie.
The Big Short The true story of how the stock market was blown up by mortgage
backed securities and their derivatives. The story is funny because of the characters,
but they stole OUR money. I heard that what seems like weird portrayals by some of
the actors are actually spot on what the real people are like.
Roxanne The story of Cyrano de Bergerac updated and played by Steve Martin
and Daryl Hannah. I'm a sucker for CdeB stories anyway and this is a fun movie from
the get go.
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Mistaken identity drives this madcap
adventure in London.
Beetlejuice A modern ghost story. Fast, furious, outrageous.
L.A Story Another Steve Martin story. A love story of a man who's lost his
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels I do like Steve Martin and Michael Cain. Put them
together in a movie and they play off against each other so very well. This is the
story of two gigolos that compete to rip off one poor woman from the mid West.
Rat Race A fast paced wild ride from Las Vegas to nowhere. Lots of stars.
Trading Places Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd have such great chemistry in
this class based satire. My folks loved it.
Dick Jokes, but I still love 'em.
Animal House This reminds me a lot of what we were like in college. Sure,
this is over the top, but it's what I want to remember doing.
Caddy Shack Nothing but laughs from start to finish.
Sordid Lives Poor white trash hold a funeral for their dearly beloved mother.
Exit To Eden Adapted from an Ann Rice novel, this is a romp through a sexual
BDSM holiday with Dan Ackroyd and Rosie O'Donnell. Funny stuff, but a bit more risqué
than I remembered.
Young Frankenstein Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, a crew of famous funnies.
How the story might really have gone.
Monty Python and the Search For the Holy Grail It's like a bunch of small
comedy sketches all strung together into a real movie. Love it.
The Importance of Being Earnest You've all seen high school productions
of this. It is a funny, funny story.
The Thin Man series with Nick, Nora, and Asta These two detectives solve
murders with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
Citizen Kane This was a shocking movie at the time. Not only for the subject,
but also for the "odd" camera angles, focus, etc. It was a pioneering film.
The Navigator Buster Keaton's silent classic. If you think of it in today's
terms, it appears trite. Then you think, this guy was the very first person to *ever*
do this stuff. Fencing with a swordfish under water? Walking around the walls? Watch
this and you'll see where Kubrick got some of his ideas. These must have driven the
audiences of the day wild.
Fail Safe Not the new one, the old one. Henry Fonda, Larry Hagman. The tension
is real, the cinematography excellent. A sober movie.
Cool Hand Luke Paul Newman is stuck in jail in the deep South. He's too
smart for his own good.
The Graduate Dustin Hoffman is a self absorbed recent college grad, living
at home and having sex with the wife of his father's best friend. Sometimes a comedy,
And just for the record, here are great movies that are well known:
Pulp Fiction If you've ever read one of those crappy novels that has criminal
hit men spouting off about pop philosophy and thinking they're big shots, this movie
is exactly that. It is sooo good.
Doctor Strangelove This is a laugh riot. Peter Sellers plays four different
parts. George C. Scott, "Mr. President, the commie will see the big board!"
Slim Pickens and James Earl Jones. And the CRM-115. Remember, Purity Of Essence.
"Mandrake, I do not shy away from women. But I do deny them my essence."
A complete spoof of the old Fail Safe. We watched this right after that and it made
a fantastic double feature.
The Shawshank Redemption Many people don't know that this story was written
by Stephen King. Consider: what is more horrific than being in jail for life when
you didn't do the crime? It comes from the book Four Seasons. This is also where the story for
Stand By Me , another good movie, came from.
Apocalypse Now A surrealistic look at the war in Viet Nam. Surrealistic
enough that it might be true. (I do not recommend the Redux version. It adds scenes
that explain the story and as a result it loses some of the punch.) Listen to Robert
Duvall when he delivers the lines about napalm. In his interview on 60 Minutes he
said he was pissed off at Marlon Brando and he was sarcastically imitating Brando
when he uttered his famous line, "Smells like . . . . . Victory"
Kill Bill Personally, I prefer KB #1. The fast paced surrealistic story appeals to me. #2 ties
up too many loose ends.