On Friday evening, I got my beloved computer back. The lovely guy who fixed it, Terry of Discovery PCs, was absolutely amazing: he ran into unexpected problems, but worked two hours after he's supposed to close on Friday afternoon to make sure I had it back for the weekend. He happened to have some spare chips lying around which are twice as good as the old processor and memory I had, but are still completely obsolete, so he threw them in with the service. Moore's law works in my favour. I don't really care that my computer is faster, but I do care that it's now running more reliably, my net connection works properly (turned out there was a pin-sized hole in the phone cable as well as general Windows being crap issues; kudos to Terry for spotting that one).
And most excitingly of all, I have a DVD player! I was actually intending to buy a CD writer, but a combination DVD drive was essentially the same price, so why not? So now I actually have the means to catch up on all the films I've completely failed to see so far and become less of a film Philistine. So, guys, what films are absolutely essential for any cultured person to see? (Don't assume I must have seen such-and-such; I probably haven't.)
And Saturday I was very good and was sociable rather than staying in all day playing with my restored toy. Went up to Edinburgh to see loreid, pseudomonas and my P'tite Soeur whom I hadn't seen since Christmas. I had a lovely time hanging out with loreid and pseudomonas who are among my favourite people. pseudomonas fed us a yummy sweet curry and plenty of tea; he's a good cook as well as being generally interesting to talk to.
The only slight annoyance was that P'tite Soeur's train was very late and as a result we missed not only the show she'd wanted to see but the one we'd picked as a backup plan. We tried to pick an alternative but didn't take into account that the venue was only accessible via the Royal Mile, and the crowds there were so dense that the few hundred yards' journey to the venue took over an hour, by which time we'd missed that show as well. D'oh. But we saw some fun street theatre to make up for it. In particular a very impressive Australian trapeze artist whose sheer strength was completely breathtaking. And we had icecream, and you can't go far wrong wandering through Edinburgh on a sunny afternoon eating icecream.
There was a random Free Palestine demonstration on Princess Street; I decided that it was probably better not to appear too obviously Jewish in its vicinity. I hate doing that; it's very rare for me to remove my yarmulke out of that sort of caution / nervousness. It's more than likely that the demonstrators were perfectly genuine in campaigning for Palestinian rights and wouldn't have had a problem with Jews at all, but I couldn't absolutely bank on it.
Anyway, in the evening I left P'tite Soeur with some theatrical friends of hers and rejoined pseudomonas and loreid for a typically delicious meal at Ann Purna. We had a very interesting and very impassioned discussion about feminism; I think loreid came closer to converting me than anyone ever has before. All in all a gorgeous day.
The journey back was a lot less delightful; the train was absolutely jam-packed, at the level of a London Tube in rush hour. That's always an unpleasant experience, but in this case I was genuinely scared for a while, because a couple of drunk youths got on when the train was already full and found it amusing to try to shove people, not realizing the danger that someone would actually be crushed. Still, a couple of the passengers took it upon themselves to control these youths, which they did successfully. There was a generally cooperative atmosphere, with those who were not so physically burly making sure to comfort people who were inclined to panic. If it had been a real Tube I don't think there would have been such a friendly atmosphere to compensate for the physical discomfort.
Got home late enough that I was awake at a time when I could talk to darcydodo, which rounded off a generally sociable day.
A Fish Called Wanda Amadeus Amelie American Beauty Babette's Feast Being John Malkovich Belle de Jour Chocolat Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Dangerous Liaisons Das Boot Decline of the American Empire Eat Drink Man Woman Farewell My Concubine Fight Club Four Weddings and a Funeral French Lieutenant's Woman Full Metal Jacket Hope and Glory Jean de Florette Kind Hearts and Coronets Lawrence of Arabia Life of Brian Little Shop of Horrors/House on Haunted Hill/Horror Hotel Manon of the Spring Monty Python and the Holy Grail Princess Mononoke Pulp Fiction Ran Seven Samurai Seventh Seal Stalingrad Throne of Blood To Have and to Have Not Unbearable Lightness of Being Valmont Virgin Spring Who Killed Roger Rabbit Wickerman
I was going to do something similar, but you got here first, so I shall be shamelessly lazy in my comments;
Heartily seconded; do seek out the director's cut, it seems to have had very much a stealth release to cinemas a couple of years back and I do not know which version you could easily find on DVD. And be aware that it is very intense.
I do not like this overly much; it felt like a diluted, dumbed-down, mainstream-friendly version of Fight Club.
Being John Malkovich Oh yes, very much yes. Does weird things to one's brain.
Chocolat I second this; I may be biased, because I watched it cuddled up with tanac, but it's a very friendly and share-able sort of film, I'd not want to see it on my own.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Great people and relationships, but I would have a small worry that some of the visual beauty of this would not work so well on a screen so small as livredor's monitor.
I think Fight Club may be the strongest film I have ever seen; I also have similar concerns about the visuals on a small screen, and I would caution livredor, from what I know of her tastes, that it is dark and very intense and utterly refuses to pull its punches.
I'm not actually sure Pulp Fiction would have a lot in it for livredor.
Unbearable Lightness of Being
It has good acting, politics and sex, but also rather a lot of angst and ye gods is it long.
Who Killed Roger Rabbit
Is one I'd definitely prefer to see on a larger screen.
There are several in here I've not yet seen and want to.
I hadn't really thought about the small screen issue but you do have a good point. Several films on the list are fairly bleak. I can well see that not everyone would appreciate Stalingrad, Das Boot or Full Metal Jacket. Come to think of it, Virgin Spring is fairly bleak too.
Thank you, my dear. I definitely need to be warned which films are going to horrify me; I will try not to let that put me off seeing them ever, but I'll make sure I'm in a strong and coping mood when I do. Yes, I'm pathetically wimpy about violence, (particularly of the visual sort), I fully admit it.
I do not think there's anything pathetic about your distaste for violence. I do think that there's a difference between something which is doing sort of Cool violence but is otherwise fairly slick and shallow, like Pulp Fiction, and something which has violent content that is essential to the story and is being treated intelligently, like Fight Club, which is why I do recommend Fight Club with caveats.
What I do not yet feel I really have a good calibration on, and am therefore a little wary on the recommendations with, is your comfort level vis-a-vis portrayals of intense emotional anguish, which Dangerous Liaisons has on a personal-romantic-relationship level and Amadeus has quite a lot of on the level of how it feels to be someone who is very good at what they do and would in all normal circumstances get and expect recognition for that, having to endure the unexpected and unpredictable behaviour of someone you cannot honestly fail to admit is of surpassing genius in your area of talent. Which I think is a really interesting dynamic to explore, but certainly one that puts the viewer through an emotional wringer.
I do not think there's anything pathetic about your distaste for violence Well, thank you. I'd feel less stupid about it if I had ever actually done anything to prevent violence, as opposed to simply trying to avoid having to see images of violence. The latter feels mainly self-indulgent, rather than moral.
something which has violent content that is essential to the story and is being treated intelligently I agree that this is a very different case from the usual staple of gratuitous violence. That's the sort of thing that would make me inclined to try to overcome my distaste and see it anyway, I think.
your comfort level vis-a-vis portrayals of intense emotional anguish Um. I think mostly I can detach from that kind of thing to a reasonable extent. I started making a list of the few exceptional scenarios which do significantly distress me, but (as I should really have predicted) making the list is itself distressing.
I think there's only one thing I really wish I hadn't seen in the same way that I can feel about explicit violence: there's a scene in The Hours which very closely recapitulates something that I've been trying not to picture for the past eight years. I don't think you could do anything with that in the way of calibration; it's a complete one-off rather than something general. I suppose you might say, stuff that reminds me of something in reality which I'm distressed about? Not that that's very useful for predicting which films I'll cope with, I know.
It seems to me that film portrayals of emotional anguish are more like reading about than like seeing violence, which I don't like doing, but can deal with a lot better. Because the anguish isn't right there in front of you, you have to make the effort of empathy to connect to the person suffering.
Thank you, this is just the kind of thing I wanted, and I really appreciate your creating a whole list for me. I actually have seen one or two of those, amazingly enough, which makes me feel a fraction less Philistine. Actually, mostly the French ones; my knowledge of French film is a lot less terrible than American / English.
Namely: A Fish Called Wanda Saw it many years ago, hated it. All I can remember is being very confused by what was going on and feeling that it was mocking the vulnerable, which is something I can't stand in any medium. Amelie My favourite film of all time. I've even reviewed it! Being John Malkovich That I found very intellectually stimulating but it didn't quite live up to its promise in some ways. Jean de Florette Look, more French films that I've actually seen! And Manon des Sources too. Kind Hearts and Coronets Saw it as a kid, I'd really like to see it again though. It's just gorgeous. Life of Brian Not crazy about it. It made me laugh but struck me as kind of childish. Monty Python and the Holy Grail I liked even less. Who Killed Roger Rabbit That's another film I found fun a long time ago and would like to see again.
You dislike Monty Python No, I'm merely indifferent to Monty Python. It's ok, but nothing special.
and "A Fish Called Wanda" Yes, I really hated that. But maybe I was just too young when I saw it.
and you dislike Tom Lehrer? Yes, I think this was the major point of contention. After all, not liking films you like wasn't an issue that came up very often. Not liking music that my girlfriend was constantly singing or alluding too was a bit trickier, I think.
I wonder how we ever survived as a couple. ;) Hey, you dislike plenty of things I'm passionate about! You objected to my talking about science at meal times, I recall.
You know, this is a really anachronistic and generally bizarre discussion to be having... You're right as usual, but I'm mainly not arguing because it's making me feel weird rather than cos I'm conceding this readily!
oh... Movies... a topic I know something about (or at least have strong opinions about)
Have you been out of the movie-going loop for only a few years, or longer than that?
I'll start with some more artsy, less well known, generally foreign (non-US) films:
The Color Of Paradise A beautifully shot, but very sad Iranian movie about a blind boy and his family.
An Affair Of Love Since you said you liked French films. I think this is my favorite French movie.
Girl on the Bridge A close runner up for my favorite French film. And it features a professional knife thrower!
Amelie (oops.. that one's well known... but I'm going to put it here because it fits in the French category) I'm only put this on the list since you specifically said to put on the list things that we think "no, really, she must have already seen that" for.
Cinema Paradiso Italian. Very moving.
Sunshine German movie about the fate of several generations of a family of Hungarian Jews. Beautiful, Epic, Tragic (of course), and surprisingly poorly known.
Twilight Samurai Modern Japanese samurai movie. Not too violent. In keeping with the Japanese Samurai movie tradition, but with an enjoyable modern twist.
Rashoman The Kurosawa classic. (while I'm thinking about Samurai)
Seven Samurai This is the other Kurosawa classic that I would be remiss in not mentioning along with Rashoman. I will, however, spare you the Western remake of Seven Samurai that my father insisted was part of my movie education.
Some Newer (last 10 years) American Movies: Road to Perdition I thought this should have taken the Best Picture Oscar in 2002. (gangster violence warning)
Pulp Fiction Others have mentioned this violent, but great movie. It is Terantino's best movie, in my opinion.
Reservoir Dogs and Four Rooms These are close runners up to Pulp Fiction as my favorite Terantino movie. Both of these have horribly violent moments. The violence is quick, but the build up to the violence is what really makes your skin crawl.
Mystery Train While we are on the subject of bizarre and original directors, this is my favorite Jim Jarmusch. Though Ghost Dog is another favorite, and fits well into the earlier Samurai theme.
Being John Malkovich Another bizarre classic.
For less weird dramas, try:
The Pianist (sad and, of course, violent)
The Piano While I'm thinking of pianos. :)
The Shawshank Redemption Not a happy movie, and contains some violence, but overall it is very uplifting.
My list is seeming a bit overly violent for your anti-violence preference here are some less violent ones:
Best in Show Non-violent, and very funny.
Strictly Ballroom Along the same lines, but with ballroom dancers instead of dogs.
Some older all time classics that I am required to mention:
Das Boot (but skip the director's cut)
Apocalypse Now (skip the director's cut on this one too)
Citizen Kane 12 Angry Men
Some Hitchcock: Rear Window Vertigo Strangers on a Train
Well, maybe that will be enough to get you started...
Movies... a topic I know something about Ooh, thank you for sharing your knowledge with me, then!
Have you been out of the movie-going loop for only a few years, or longer than that? I've basically never been into film. We never had a video player at home, and went to the cinema as a very rare treat. And I didn't get into the habit, at least partially because I never acquired a TV, after I left home either. So I've not seen most of the 'classics', including the ones that were made before I was born. And I've also not seen anything released recently.
I'm a bit less ignorant about French films, because I watched quite a lot of them in class over the course of 7 years of high school French, and because I had a penfriend who was a bit of a film buff and took me to the cinema and showed me videos a lot when I visited her. And on the rare occasions when I do go to the cinema, I tend to pick arthouse films rather than Hollywood ones, which quite often means I end up seeing French films. France seems to be the main source of alternative, arty films shown in this country.
As for your list, the only ones I've seen are Amélie and Being John Malkovich. I was rather taken with the latter; it's bizarre in a way that I find appealing. But thanks so much for the list, it's really great to have recommendations covering the international scene. There's a lot of these I haven't even heard of, so I'll really be expanding my horizons by watching some of them!
Well, I hope you enjoy the movies, and hope you post your opinions whether you like the movies or not. I always enjoy seeing what others think of movies that I have seen, even if we disagree. Also, seeing what you like will help figure out what else you might enjoy.
I realized after writing that last post that I had left out Harold and Maude, which is, although quite dated (1971), one of my favorite movies of all time. Ever since I first saw it, I have dreamed of someday owning and driving a hearse. Six Feet Under (the TV series) has only made that desire stronger since then.
If you liked Being John Malkovich, you might want to check out Adaptation. It is by the same screenwriter, and is also pretty weird in a similar way. I liked Malkovich a little better, but Adaptation is still worth seeing.
There is also Memento, which you might like. It is pretty dark, but really conceptually interesting and well made. I came out of that movie with friends, and had a long discussion about our widely diverging perceptions of what the basic plot line was. I should include a violence warning, though.
Also I left out The Sixth Sense which is really a must see (though I worry you may have heard enough strong endorsements of it that you will end up finding it disappointing).
I should stop now, or I'll just overwhelm you. Enjoy your movie watching! You're lucky to have so many great movies out there that you haven't seen yet!