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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Five Best: My Mom is Wrong

scene from "Rabbit Hole" courtesy
Growing up, my mom and I didn't see eye to eye all the time. If anything, our personalities are too similar, always making it a power struggle between us. One minor difference we run into nowadays is taste in film, since my likes/dislikes have changed since my love of film and film history/criticism has grown. Now, everybody can hate movies because of the topics of the films. But, the five below are movies that my mother hates on a different level. I may not think the movies below are the greatest ever made, but I would certainly say, if asked, that I "like" them. So, here's my list of five films that I would recommend, but my mom never would, in chronological order.

NOTE: I'm not trying to convince my mother to love any of the films below. I'm just stating my case. So there.

courtesy of
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick's epic science-fiction film broke new ground in terms of visual style, narrative structure (or lack thereof), and use of music and sound. A movie lasting over three hours, but with only about 45 minutes of dialogue, 2001 still makes very little sense to me (though I wrote a paper on it my freshman year in college). But it's so damn gorgeous and fascinating, that I get enthralled in its tedious nature. It's slow, it's extremely laborious, but it's so stunning and intelligent that it will ignite discussion anywhere, anytime.
courtesy of
A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Hey, it's Stanley Kubrick again! A Clockwork Orange was slapped with an X rating when it first premiered - for good reason (kind of) - at the time. It still garnered a best picture nomination, losing to The French Connection (understandable). This adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel stars Malcolm McDowell as the titular antagonist, Alex DeLarge, as the leader of his band of droogs who pretty much just beat up, steal from, and rape people in a not-to-distant future London. It's a grim look at the nature vs. nurture internal struggles and what makes you good or evil. Is it a choice or something ingrained in our nature? Yes, it's an overly graphic and somewhat offensive representation, but it works.
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Mulholland Drive (2001)

This is a tricky one. The first time I saw this film, I hated it. In the past year, I decided to re-watch it to see if my opinion had changed. I still don't think it's a great film, but I recognize David Lynch's stylistic choices and the need to let go and just take in the film. Naomi Watts has a star-making turn here in this dreamlike horror story with layers that I still haven't to peeled off yet. It's narrative structure is pretty broken, but somewhere along the line, it creates a mystery that I want to solve, even if it takes way too much time and energy.
courtesy of
Death to Smoochy (2002)

I will preface this by saying this is not a great movie by filmmaking standards. But, somewhere in my brain, I'm weirdly attracted to this insane dark comedy from director Danny DeVito. Starring a bevy of talented performers, including Catherine Keener, Jon Stewart, and Edward Norton Jr. and Robin Williams as rival children's television show hosts, the movie is full of gaping holes and comes off horribly mean-spirited about 50% of the time. But, though Williams is so menacingly irritating here, he leaves Norton's simple, almost heartwarming performance to save the film from a certain "never see it" rating.
courtesy of
The Tree of Life (2011)

Terrence Malick's mammoth tale of a Texas family and their connection to the greater history of the world has really become this generation's 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is excruciatingly obtuse and overwhelming, but the cinematography and central performances make it worth the time. Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain star as parents to Hunter McCracken, a young boy who struggles with a love/hate relationship with his father and works to understand his place in the universe. It's a gorgeous film with themes that span landscapes so much bigger than any film can really withhold.

So, maybe my mom and I differ about which films we love and which we hate, but, in the end, it doesn't matter. Regardless, I still love her very much!

To take us out, here's a clip from Death to Smoochy and one of my favorite ridiculous movie songs ever.

P.S. We will always agree on The Fifth Element. Ugh...

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