Friday, August 24, 2012

Jason's Top Ten Favorite Films of All Time

I've been barely able to handle my life lately but have really been missing/feeling left out of film club. And Arthur's finally starting to participate! Sigh.

So here's my feeble contribution to the growing body of material that I've laregely missed the past couple of months.

 My criteria was that I had to have seen the film at least twice (but more times was preferable) and it had to have made some kind of lasting impact on me. A small disclaimer: I started to read the lists on Facebook and got partway down Arthur's and realized I needed to come up with my own first. So The Muppet Movie is on my list, and it fits my criteria, but I'm not sure if it would have been on there had I not looked at his list, keeping in my the off-the-top-of-my-head-as-more-genuine approach I've taken.

Anyway, here they are, in order, with a brief note on why they've stayed with me for so long.

1. The Empire Strikes Back (Kirschner, 1980): It is impossible to summarize this film's influence on a young six-year-old's psyche, but it was tremendous. Probably no other film has had a similar impact.

2. The Mission (Joffe, 1986): Themes of redemption and justice run thick through this film like coagulated blood, with a haunting soundtrack by Morricone that may be the most beautiful and effective in film history.

3. Waking Ned Devine (Jones, 1998): Humorous and deeply moving, this film at its heart is about placing community over the individual--powerfully depicted, but brilliantly subtle.

4. Down By Law (Jarmusch, 1986): I've only seen this twice, but Jarmusch's films opened my eyes to a whole new world of film for the first time in my life. I watched Night On Earth in Ben Gallman's room one fateful night in the late nineties, buzzed on gin and tonic, and was never the same. Down By Law is Jarmusch at his best, but not by much.

5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Gilliam,/Jones, 1975): I saw this sometime in junior high or early high school and for the first time a film resonated with my already offbeat and somewhat absurdist sense of humor and pretty much defined my sense of humor from that point onward.

6. Mystery Train (Jarmusch, 1989): I saw this before Down By Law, and it was my first favorite "art film." By this point, I'd seen films by several other great directors and had been exposed to enought to have a favorite. Down By Law eventually edged out Mystery Train, but not enough to take it off my Top Ten.

7. The Dark Crystal (Henson/Oz, 1982): As a child, I had never before been introduced to such a fantastic world with such fantastic creatures and so much at stake. As an adult, I marveled at the detail and precision that went into making it, and believe it to be the pinnacle of puppetry in filmmaking to this day.

8. It's a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946): The only film on my list made before I was born is also one that I watched on TV almost every Christmas since. It's not just a heartwarming holiday film; it's also a powerful treatise on the effect a good man has on everyone around him, even when he's not aware of it. It's a lesson to all of us to never underestimate how important we are to those who love us.

9. The Muppet Movie (Frawley, 1979): Another early favorite, Kermit's everyfrog, down-to-earth, follow-your-dreams sensibility made a big impresssion on me as a young child. To this day, the opening notes of "Rainbow Connection" still send a shiver down my spine. I wore out the 8-track cassette we owned of the soundtrack.

10. Hot Rod (Schaffer, 2007): A ridiculous film with every plot element overstated, this film still makes me laugh every time I watch it--and I've seen it four or five times in the past couple of years. It has become a family favorite, with quotes from the film permanently infused in our everyday vocabulary, so its sentimental value has also increased over time.

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