With the end of the year approaching it seemed like a good time to list 13 of my favorite movies (in no particular order.)
- K-Pax: Kevin Spacey stars as Prot an alien visitor who happens to arrive in Grand Central Station on a visit to earth and subsequently finds himself transported to a mental hospital. Jeff Bridges is the chief psychologist who tries to learn who Prot “really is” and in turn learns more about himself and life in general. A sweet movie.
- Real Genius: An early Val Kilmer movie about a group of MIT-like geeks who are tasked to build a device that they eventually learn will be used by the military to destroy human life. A great movie with lots of geek humor and one of the best lines about meeting a woman’s expectations.
- Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban: Alan Rickman gives a great performance as Severus Snape in the third installment of the Harry Potter series. Gary Oldman is introduced as Sirius Black and David Thewlis is Remus Lupin. ‘Nuff said.
- The Fisher King: An excellent performance by Robin Williams as a sweet man who suffered a breakdown due to a horrific trauma in his life. Jeff Bridges encounters Williams’ character as his own life spirals out of control. Williams leads Bridges on trip of self-discovery but of course there is some tragedy in between. Directed by Terry Gilliam.
- Like Water for Chocolate: A very sensuous movie set in Mexico it tells the story of Tita and Pedro who fall in love but are not allowed to marry. Tita is the youngest daughter and is expected to take care of her mother as is tradition. It is the eldest daughter who must marry first. Along the way, Tita learns that her cooking has special powers as evidenced when the wedding cake she made for her sister’s wedding causes the guests to be overcome with sadness. This movie follows Tita and Pedro through their life, the relationships they forge and the love between them that never dies. Will they ever be united? What is this power that Tita possesses when she cooks? A great romantic movie. Subtitles.
- Four Weddings & A Funeral: Directed by Mike Newell, this movie stars Hugh Grant as a commitment phobic Brit and Andie MacDowell as the American he falls in love with. Great humor about relationships, weddings and marriage. A touching scene about love and loss. A good movie on a rainy night for the hopeless romantic.
- Glory: This movie about the first all black regiment in the Civil War stars Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Carey Elwes, Morgan Freeman, and Andre Braugher. Matthew Broderick gives a great performance as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who led the regiment in battle while dealing with aspects of racism and prejudice from both his enemies and friends. Denzel Washington won a Best Supporting Oscar for his role as an illiterate and angry former slave who channels his anger into the battle on the field.
- The Breakfast Club: A fun and honest reminder of what it is like to be in high school and the cliques we may or may not have belonged to. Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Anthony Michael Hall spend a Saturday in detention for various infractions. During this time they open up about fitting in, loyalty to your “friends,” stereotypes, parental expectations (or lack thereof) and the pressure of being a teenager (albeit in the 80’s). One of several John Hughes movies featuring the “brat pack” in its various incarnations. Good soundtrack.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: The Fellowship of the Ring set the tone for this film. Here the characters are more developed. The battle scenes are intense, friendships are challenged, and good and evil rage against each other. And a couple hours watching Viggo Mortensen and Billy Boyd isn’t bad either.
- The Usual Suspects: Kevin Spacey won an Oscar for his role as “Verbal” Kint, a crippled con-man, in this mindbending criminal film. Told from Verbal’s prospective, the story revolves around five criminals (the usual suspects), an boat explosion on the waterfront, $91 million in drug money, a hijacked truck, and the legendary “Kaiser Soeze.” Watch this movie closely; the end is a stunner and may leave you as surprised as Chazz Palminteri’s character. Also features Gabriel Byrne, Benicio Del Toro, Stephen Baldwin, and Pete Postlethwaite.
- Edward Scissorhands: A classic Tim Burton film about a misfit (Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands) who is orphaned when his “father” (Vincent Price) dies and is discovered by the well-meaning Dianne Weist who brings Edward to live in suburbia as only Tim Burton can imagine it. The vibrant colors of suburbia pop next to Depp’s pale Edward. The neighbors appear to exist only in Burton’s imagination yet on a deeper level some of them seem strangely familiar. Burton makes you think about how you perceive and treat someone who is “different.”
- Braveheart: FREEDOM. That is what Braveheart stands for; fighting for your freedom and standing up for your beliefs. Mel Gibson portrays William Wallace who fought for Scotland’s independence from England (the English crown) in the 13th century and forged a relationship with Robert the Bruce. Lots of great scenery, men in kilts, Scottish brogues, men in kilts, well-choreographed battle scenes, a love story (debatable whether this part is fact or fiction), Celtic music, and men in kilts.
- Kundun: A visually stunning movie directed by Martin Scorsese about the 14th Dalai Lama. This movie begins with the choosing of the Dalai Lama at age 2 and follows him through his training to become the Dalai Lama, until his escape from Tibet in 1959 to India. The colors, the scenery, and cinematography are spectacular. Phillip Glass provides the soundtrack which is as emotional as the movie.