Sunday, December 23, 2012

5 Movies I Never Get Sick of Watching

After dinner I turn on the TV and The Sound of Music is on.  I have seen this movie a disturbing number of times.  Every time it is on TV an alarm clock goes off in my body that tells me to turn on the TV.  I have never sought out the movie.  It always finds me.  No matter what I'm doing I find time to watch some (most) of the movie every year.  I never get sick of it.  I know the songs and the dialogue better than the actors at this point but that just makes it that much more enjoyable.  Who knows what chord this movie struck in me.  I'm a band and musical theater geek so it feeds that part of me.  I love that the underdog beats out the rich socialite to get the man and live happily ever after.  I love the historical content of the movie; the danger makes the romance that much more intense.

I pulled myself away from Maria and the Von Trapp family long enough to think about what other movies have this effect on me.  I am a movie fanatic.  When I was single I went to the movies by myself almost weekly.  I also taped movies on my VCR (I know I'm old) and had a premium membership to Netflix.  I am lucky enough to marry someone who shares my passion for movies (one of the biggest decisions that we had to make as a couple was whose Netflix account we were going to get rid of).  I had never heard of Rotten Tomatoes or Entertainments Weekly before I met my husband and now they are both part of my movie review rotation.  Unfortunately, both forums have become extremely biased towards whichever studio is paying them to say how awesome their movie is or which movie would appeal to the average 12 year old.  Despite their pitfalls, I love reading about what new movies are coming out and following the buzz on new stars and filmmakers.   

According to Netflix I have rated 1,916 movies during the 12 years that I have been a member.  I have seen many more movies than this but not all of them are available through Netflix.  Independent films, foreign films and documentaries are some of my favorites to watch but I usually have to go to a local art cinema or catch them on PBS.  Out of all these movies, there are several that I have given great reviews to but that doesn't mean that I want to see the movie again.  Some of the best movies that I have ever seen, movies like Full Metal Jacket, Seven and Schindler's List are so intense that I can't imagine seeing them again.  The emotional toll of the first time is enough to last me a life time.  There are movies that I would not consider 5 star movies which resonate with me.  These may not be Academy Award Winners (though some of them are) but they are my favorite movies to watch and that's all that matters in this blog.

These are in no particular order.  I've already addressed The Sound of Music so next on my list would have to be October Sky.  This amazing movie features Jake Gyllenhal before he was a star.  He plays a young high school boy in a small coal mining town.  He has dreams of being an astronaut but his coal miner father doesn't see any sense in him wasting time on rocket science when he's just going to work at the mine.  It has everything I love: the young teacher that supports his dream who gets cancer, the temporary sidelining of his dream after an accident and of course triumph in the end.  The best part of this story is that it's the true story of Homer Hickum, an actual astronaut and Vietnam veteran.  The knowledge that this story is true makes it so much easier to cry at every failure and achievement that Homer experiences.

Next is The Wizard of Oz.  I think I have seen this movie more than any other movie.  When I was a kid we watched it on TV every year at the holidays.  If the weather was bad, we watched it at school during recess.  When they released a new color and digitally enhanced version of the movie for it's 50th anniversary in 1989 I received it as a Christmas present.  There are little people, a dog, witches, flying monkeys, magic, dancing and singing.  What's not to like?  Who hasn't been a cowardly lion at some point in their life?  Don't we all wonder what life is like somewhere far away from where we grew up?  Maybe every one's journey isn't this dramatic but it sure feels like it.  There are more pop culture references from this movie than any other movie.  How many times do we hear about Oz or the Wizard or the yellow brick road, Emerald City, etc in the media when discussing current pop culture?  This movie is the original fairy tale.

Next is Save the Last Dance.  Julia Stiles is my favorite actress of my generation.  She is beautiful but not in that traditional perky blonde next door way.  Ever since the TV miniseries The 60's I have been in love with her.  O was an amazing modern take on Shakespeare's Othello that didn't get any press.  I saw O because I loved the actors that were in it but I'm surprised it didn't turn into a big hit.  Shortly after O Julia starred in Save the Last Dance.  This movie is cliche.  It is teenage love.  We have seen this movie done with different actors and different circumstances but the same ending.  The interracial couple.  The dancing.  Girl gives up on her passion after her mother dies and moves in with her estranged father.  New school, new friends, new everything.  As she embraces hip hop culture and leaves behind her white bread former life she finds the passion that she had lost and gains a whole new support system.  No, you don't have to lose a parent to find yourself but you can recreate yourself and reassess your life after a major loss. 

The last movie on my list is Ever After.  This movie is the Cinderella story with Drew Barrymore in the lead.  The actors are cast perfectly.  The story is the same but different.  I cry every time.  I never get tired of this movie.  There is no singing or dancing or Disney mice or fairy godmothers but it still works.  It is an intelligent re-telling of a classic tale that works on every level and appeals to young and old alike.

Love Actually is a very close 6th on the list but it is more my husband's favorite movie than mine and I feel like I watch it because he watches it (but it is definitely a 5 star movie).  This list could have at least 25 more movies on it. Disney, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, dance movies like Drumline and Stomp the Yard etc. all get heavy play in this house. 

This time of the year is amazing for new movies released just in time to get their name into the Oscar nomination buzz.  It has been a long time since a new movie entered my movie Rolodex.  There are a lot of promising movies that came out this year (to be discussed in a future blog) but if the media gods don't put them in heavy syndication on cable/network TV then I won't see them again.  I don't buy movies.  I don't see movies in the theater multiple times.  The movies on my list obviously strike a chord with a lot of people or they wouldn't be in heavy syndication.  So check out your cable guide and set up your DVR.  I have seen 3 of the movies mentioned on TV in the past month.

I have to get back to my TV, it's time for the Von Trapps to put on their big performance and make their escape.  Ah the hills are alive indeed.                    

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