Friday, November 13, 2015

Top 50 movies: 46-50

46. The Wizard of Oz
Year: 1939
Country: USA
Language: English
Director: Victor Fleming

One of those magical childhood movies that you go back and revisit later in life, hoping it holds up after the years, and find that it's better than you ever thought it was. Oz is a wonderfully realized place full of magic, mystery, impeccable sets and makeup, a wonderful star turn from Judy Garland, and maybe the greatest villain in movie history. I was floored on my last viewing by how transported I was by this movie. There's not a ton to say about it, since it's probably one of the most written about, studied, beloved movies in cinema history. I've seen it countless times since I was a kid and yet it still holds magic and wonder for me.

47. Fantasia
Year: 1940
Country: USA
Language: English
Director: multiple listed directors

A movie that I always wanted to see as a kid but was told I wouldn't like it, it was just animation with classical music and not a standard Disney story or anything. I thought that sounded great but I still wasn't able to see it until this year, at the age of 32. It was even better than I could've imagined. It's like the best ballet you could ever dream up. The animation tied to the music so much that they become of a single piece. I could actually do without the introductions by the music conductor. Each section needs some sort of break between them, but I would've been fine with a fade to black, moment of blank screen, and fade up into a new section. Regardless, the movie is gorgeous to look at and, like The Wizard of Oz, a transportational viewing experience. Except the places we're taken in Fantasia are even more fantastical and amazing than Oz.

48. Talk to Her
Year: 2002
Country: Spain
Language: Spanish
Director: Pedro Almodovar

The newest addition to my top list, and the best movie I watched on my 20 movie world cinema quest, is this Spanish masterpiece from Pedro Almodovar, a writer/director I already admired even if I hadn't quite loved his movies yet. This story, of two relationships of very different types, gets us to identify and relate to these four people in surprising ways. The turn of the plot comes as such a shock that we cannot believe it, just as we wouldn't if it happened in real life. But Almodovar never cheated, it's not a twist in the regular movie sense. It's kind of a twist in the way that life twists us. I can't quite get over just how much life is in this movie. That was the theme that kept coming up to me. Even side characters are so precisely written that one doctor has just one small scene and he felt like a fully formed character. It also never hurts when a filmmaker gives us dick and poop jokes in addition to the craziest, funniest, wildest movie-within-a-movie I've ever seen.

49. Ratatouille
Year: 2007
Country: USA
Language: English
Director: Brad Bird

The first thing I wanted to do when leaving the theater after seeing Ratatouille on opening day was cook. Cooking is one of the great joys of my life, and it is one of the great joys for Remy the rat too. Re-watching this movie so many times, I'm actually a little bored by the opening 20 minutes or so, until Remy gets to Paris. From then on the movie is perfect. It's hilarious, heartbreaking, romantic, and filled with a love of life and food. Peter O'Toole's performance as the food critic Anton Ego is the movie's key, I think. When presented with the title dish, vegetable peasant food thought unworthy of the high end restaurant in which it's being served, he is raced back to childhood and the comfort and love he felt when his mother made him the dish. Then he follows with one of my favorite monologues in movies, about the relationship between art and art criticism. Heady stuff to put in a "kids movie" but that's because Pixar isn't trying to make movies just for kids, they're trying to make good movies period.

And this movie just beat out Brad Bird's other masterpiece, The Incredibles, and both are just slightly better than his first brilliant movie, The Iron Giant.

50. Taste of Cherry
Year: 1997
Country: Iran
Language: Farsi/Persian
Director: Abbas Kiarostami

One I just recently watched during my world cinema quest, Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry is a fascinating and affecting movie. It has stayed in my brain since I first watched it, with its simplicity, empathy, and emotional power. The plot, that of a man trying to find people to assist him in his suicide, sounds depressing as hell, but it's really not. We never know why he wants to commit suicide, but Kiarostami subtly shows us the character's isolation. And feeling alone is why everyone who commits suicide does, they feel alone. If they weren't alone they'd have something to live for. It's an interesting take that this man wants help with his death, and I think that's the key to the movie. This man is reaching out for connection, looking for someone to help him, yet, naturally, when he finds connection is when there's some doubt to his plan. He picks up 3 passengers, of 3 ethnicities, throughout the movie, and when the third tries to convince him not to do it, he does so through connecting with our protagonist. And that's why when the camera fades to black as he's lying in the grave he's already dug, with us ignorant of whether or not he took the overdose of pills he planned on taking, I was filled with hope and positivity in this life affirming masterpiece that is sadly still the only Iranian movie I've seen.

Don't forget to check out Clint's list over at Guy with a Movie Blog too! Next week, our top 10 directors.

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