I love movies. Jenny and I don't sit around in dark theaters wearing a black beret, but we see a good many films each year (more before the arrival of our son, but we still get out of the house now and again). Although watching DVDs at home can be nice, there is still something special about going to a theater. And stadium-style seats are now mandatory components of our life like broadband internet and HD tv.
Good movies, like good books, enrich our lives. They show us a slice of another perspective, another existence. They make you feel.
Great movies can change the way you think.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention bad movies. I don't know how a multi-billion-dollar industry can continue to crank out recycled crap each year, but they manage to do so with astounding regularly (pun intended). It seems to get worse every summer. CGI is a wonderful tool, but when the entire plot of your film centers around the special effects, then you need to consider a new profession. The same goes for any movie based on a theme park ride. Yes, I'm talking to those frauds who have perpetrated such crapola fests as Transformers (either one), Pirates of the Caribbean (take out Johnny Deep and all you've got left is Keira Knightly's corset-enhanced bosom), and too many others to name. I'd add G.I. Joe to the list, but I was smart enough not to see it.
Here (in no particular order) are some of my favorites:
Stars Wars (original three episodes): My inner Geek insisted that I name the holy trinity first. A New Hope, which I saw seventeen times in the theater at the tender age of seven, had a major impact on how I would later view movies, drama, and even art. Although Mr. Lucas has his share of horrible ideas (i.e., ewoks, Jar-Jar, senatorial proceedings as a dramatic device), the good far outweighs the bad in this trilogy. Of the three, Empire is my favorite. It starts with a wallop -- the awesome battle at Hoth -- and just keeps adding the tension, and the delights. If you don't own these movies on DVD (or well-preserved vhs), I have to wonder what you've been wasting your time on.
Lord of the Rings (all three parts): Peter Jackson took three very good, but very LONG books and condensed them into one of the greatest movie spectacles of my life. These films have eveything you want: grandeur, elegance, grittiness, excellent costumes and make-up, special effects that add to the movie and don't dominate to the exclusion of everything else (I'm looking at you, Mr. Bay), action, adventure, friendship, betrayal, love, heartbreak, sacrifice, honor.... For a real treat, take a day off and watch all three extended versions back-to-back-to-back. Not many things could hold my attention for fifteen straight hours, but I predict that LotR will stand the test of time.
Amadeus: I am by no means a big fan of classical music. Heavy metal is more my style (Up the Irons!). But this haunting tale about the life (and death) of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart stays with you long after the final credits. The musical score is incredible -- it even got me to spend my hard-earned cash on (gasp) classical CDs. Trust me. This one's a keeper.
Braveheart: Mel Gibson may have broken our hearts with his racist diatribes and uber-religious streak, but he delivers in this awesome story of a Scotsman out to avenge the death of his bonny lass. Who knows if it's historically accurate, this movie has some of the BEST battle scenes ever. The characters are just terrific on both sides of the struggle.
Ghostbusters I: One of the funniest movies ever without resorting to penis-jokes (well, not many). Bill Murray's magnum opus -- zanny, irreverent, probably more than a little allegorical, and it also boasts one of the worst sequels in modern history.
The Curious Case of the Benjamin Button: I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried at the end of this movie. Of course, my wife and I were just weeks away from the birth of our son, so the ending was super-powerful to us. Still, a clever story attached to strong tugs on the old heartstrings. Excellent pacing (ignore the idiots who complained about it's slow pace. Not everything should be G.I. Joe.).
Conan the Barbarian: The movie that made Arnold a star and one of his best action roles along with Terminator and Predator. Arnold is the face of Conan to modern generations, for better and worse. It's a little campy in places, but that was par for the course as far as fantasy pictures until LotR came along. For once, the Governator's lacks of emoting is a GOOD thing.
The Godfather (I and II): So much has been said of these films that I won't bother adding my two cents. If you haven't seen them, run to the video store and rent them both. Hell, rent Number Three also; it isn't as good, but still better than most of the stuff coming out these days.
The Seven Samurai: I know it's in black and white, and it's sub-titled, but this is a great, great movie. Full of gravity and wit, similar to Braveheart in its temperment (without the modern effects). If you like fights that look and feel realistic, warriors that act like warriors and not Hollywood pretty-boys (or pretty-girls. Sorry, Angie J.), check out this movie.
That's it for now.