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Let’s Get Translatin’ 2: More Movie Quotes Ruined by Google Translate!

Paul Thomas Anderson Characters Who Deserve Their Own Movie!

The Ten Best Movies About Insanity

Insanity is a common subject in film, and can be difficult to address clearly. Insane persons have a very unique and twisted worldview, and a director would need to know a lot about the subject to portray that view accurately. The following list is the ten films which, in my opinion, deal with the subject best. Note that there are dozens of others that could’ve made the list, and if you’d like to name some please leave a comment below.

10: The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining addresses insanity as a product of alcohol, and it is the only film on this list to do so. The book by Stephen King addresses it in a much clearer, more startling manner, but there is no denying Kubrick’s glorious cinematography and creepy vibes are just as effective. Jack Nicholson gives one of the best performances of his career as the mentally unhinged Jack Torrance, whose alcohol addiction and short temper invite the demonic forces of the Overlook Hotel into his head, and convince him to kill his family. Still as haunting as ever over thirty years after its initial release, The Shining remains a film which is a study more on things that lead to insanity, than insanity itself.

9: Rejected (2000)

Rejected, in case you have not seen it or even heard of it, is a 9-minute short film directed by Don Hertzfeldt detailing an animator’s descent into insanity through his short cartoons, which increasingly grow more disturbing and disgusting. I completely love the change of pace in this movie. The first few minutes are absolutely hilarious and completely random, but as the film goes on we begin to realize how sick and saddening it really is. The film’s visceral conclusion is poetically brilliant, an amazing representation of mental instability finally kicking into overdrive. The film isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly worth a watch:

8: Inland Empire (2006)

Even if you’ve seen this, which surprisingly few people I know have, you wouldn’t expect to see it on the list. Sure, it’s easy to label any of David Lynch’s movies “insane” but you’d expect to see Mulholland Dr. on a list of insane movies, not Inland Empire, right? Well after hours and days of studying the film, I’ve determined that it has a much more effective and memorable stance on insanity than its more well-known predecessor. It’s about a woman, an actress (Laura Dern) who sinks into the role of a boozed ex-prostitute reflecting on her demented past with a spiteful attitude yet with no particular impulse to change. I’ve always thought it’s one of the best movies ever made (except for the whole DV-shooting thing, which I still don’t get), and I’m probably one of very few people who think that, but the reason it’s so difficult to understand is because insanity is difficult to understand. Lynch goes straight for the gut, heaving disturbing images at us and forcing us to confront them. I’m praying for the day when he makes another film, but if he doesn’t, this would be a fitting conclusion.

7: Citizen Kane (1941)

While labeling any one film ‘the greatest movie of all time’ is an incredible overstatement (though Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog comes closest), one can’t deny that Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane is pretty damn close. He plays the eponymous Kane, the ruthless patriarch of a newspaper empire (a character based on William Randolph Hearst, but who seems eerily similar to the Rupert Murdoch of today) whose greed and power are ultimately his downfall. In the end, as we all know, he dies, and on his deathbed all the regrets of his life flash before his eyes in an instant, and all he wishes for is the simplicity of his childhood (*wipes tear*). I don’t believe Kane was really insane, but for a few, fleeting, manic moments we see insanity in his eyes, in his attitude, and for Welles to display that so calmly, so cooly, is the artwork of a cinematic God itself.

6: Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)

Werner Herzog’s astonishing breakthrough is one of many tales of maniacality fuelled by greed. Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) at first accepts his place as a secondary character before suddenly, shockingly and mercilessly usurping the position of leader. He leads his men on a lethal journey into the jungle in search of the mythological city of El Dorado, a place as incredibly difficult to find as any logic or reason in the film’s protagonist: very difficult. He’ll let his men die so long as he gets to his destination, and as they are ruthlessly picked off by natives and eaten by monkeys, he stands triumphantly, as if their rotting corpses are the fruits of his discoveries, the gold of El Dorado, and as if the long trek into the jungle will last forever, until ultimately his own life is taken by his second-hand desires and unstable tendencies.

5: American Psycho (2000)

Can you remember the expression on your face when Patrick Bateman said, “I like to dissect girls. Did you know I’m utterly insane?” Or how about: “Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you fucking stupid bastard!” Or most memorably: “It’s even got a watermark!” They’re all lines representing the typicality and tiredness of his insanity, how it is so fully developed and fleshed out that it is not his soul that has been taken over, but his entire physical form. There is not one iota of sanity from Bateman in the entire film; strange, since usually all films about insanity have at least one moment when the insane protagonist looks momentarily normal. This is the beauty of Mary Harron’s representation of the character. He is insane to the point where acting sane would be insane, to him. This is very difficult to represent on screen, but Harron does it with ease, style, and a helpful handful of pop culture references. Bale embodies Bateman, to the point where it is difficult not to be reminded of Bateman every time we see him. Bateman is one of those characters that was probably always insane, but what makes it especially shocking is how physically similar he is to the film’s other characters, which suggests subtly that his insanity is normal, that he is not alone, and that it is typical of the rough, threatening shark-in-a-suit attitude which has become so stereotypical.

4: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Randal Patrick McMurphy is not insane. He is as normal as apple pie or cinnamon buns, and there is no reason for us to think any different? So why is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on this list? Because this is a list of films about insanity; dealing with it as a subject, not necessarily as characterisation. McMurphy is isolated in a world of supposedly crazy (“Creeps! Lunatics! Mental Defectives!”) people, but as the film passes by, we realize how we have completely overestimated the meaning of the word insane. Insanity does not necessarily mean dropping a chainsaw from fifty feet and hitting a prostitute splat on the head (see #5), it can mean something as simple as basic paranoia or just thinking in a different manner to what we would consider ‘normal.’ Insane is a stupid word. Literally, it would mean ‘the opposite of sane,’ but what is sane? Normal? What is normal? How can you factually define these words without using opinion? There is no way. Definition is supposedly fact, but opinion is a part of almost everything we say and mean, rendering the words ‘insane’ or ‘sane’ moot. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest deals with insanity as normality, determined by a group of probing doctors and physicians, taking notes and giving pills that have no effect other than to render the person in an almost catatonic state of ignorance. The film screams out against the system of imprisonment and the definition of insanity, and this is how it is a film which deals with the subject.

3: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Sure, milkshake metaphors and bowling-pin beatings warrant us to issue an insanity warning, but the film is so much deeper than that. Daniel Plainview, like Charles Foster Kane and Don Lope de Aguirre, is driven by greed. At first he is represented as a normal man, but his descent into insanity is shocking and unnerving. While not the best film to deal with the subject, it is definitely one of the most effective. Paul Thomas Anderson confidently directs his masterpiece, and Robert Elswit’s Oscar-winning cinematography perfectly captures the madness in his mind. The film’s harrowing final half hour is a poetically stunning final message about greed and insanity. I think it is brilliant that Anderson can so amazingly capture that insanity in 30 minutes, let alone two and a half hours. The final confrontation between religious faith and atheistic disbelief is like God and Satan bickering, except this time Satan wins. Seeing Plainview in a ragged, drunken state in the film’s finale, screaming lines like “DRAAIIIINNNNAAGGEEE!” and “I told you I would eat you!” is the embodiment of a loss of soul, dignity and care. At this point, it’s not even about his greed for oil anymore. All he wants now is to hate, to kill. Compassion takes effort, and he is lazy. Looking into Plainview’s maniacal eyes we realize that anything that is not hate and selfishness will never exist in there, and it is a sombre and haunting moment indeed. Gordon Gekko once said “Greed is good.” He was NOT referring to Daniel Plainview.

2: Taxi Driver (1976)

Some would argue that Travis Bickle’s attitude was not insanity, but just tiredness. Then again, would you go and do what he did? No, you wouldn’t. Most would consider it sane not to go to such drastic measures, am I correct? Then that means what Bickle did was, by public definition, insane. But this is no time for argument. The image of Bickle with his fingers pointed at his head (“Boom! Boom! Boom!”) is him at the height of his insanity, breaking through all walls to rid his city of scum. The path to insanity is paved by Scorsese slowly, as an eventual downward spiral. This seems to be the most common way to track insanity (see #10, #9, #7, #6 and #3 on this list), and it works. Bickle’s character is a man we can all relate to; many of us can easily see ourselves doing what he does, but most of us just don’t have the insanity and conviction in our heads to actually proceed with the acts. Sure, if you saw a sadistic madman like Sport (Harvey Keitel) pimping and abusing the underage Iris (Jodie Foster), you’d want to do something, you’d want to stop it, right? Well this is where Bickle differs from everyone else; he actually does something, and it quite something indeed. He doesn’t report him to the police, he just goes right ahead and kills him because that is his mindset, the wasy he thinks, and what he considers the rational thing to do. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

1: The Hour of the Wolf (1968)

I don’t think there’s a single person who would ever read this article who will agree with me on #1. I am bracing myself for the “Hey, how can you put that ahead of Citizen Kane or Taxi Driver?” Well, as we all know, lists like these are opinionated so this is simply my opinion. Ingmar Bergman’s delve into the realm of horror film proved deeply influential (watch it back to back with Scorsese’s Shutter Island and you’ll see what I mean) and starkly terrifying. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann (Bergman’s two most talented collaborators, if I may say so) are a married couple living on an island whose lives are changed by the island’s strange inhabitants. They draw in von Sydow, humiliate him, trick him, and convince him he is losing his sanity. As the film goes on, this is exactly what happens. Any film can track an eventual loss of sanity, but Bergman punctuates it with a mixture of both subtle scenes of sanity loss and outright obvious moments of von Sydow losing it. The film is sporadic and shocking, unpredictable and unforgettable, and portrays the subject of insanity in a manner that is impossible to replicate, making the film not only powerful but unique and special, impossible to remake, fun to homage and incredible to watch.

Well, that’s my list. Anything you’d like to add? Leave a comment below.

The Five Best Characters Created by Paul Thomas Anderson

It’s Paul Thomas Anderson’s birthday today, so I’ve decided to honour the greatest living American film director (that’s right, I said it!) by presenting us with a look into his amazing mind and five crazy, unique characters that only he could have created.

1: Rahad Jackson, Boogie Nights (1997)

Even more astoundingly memorable than Mark Wahlberg’s Dirk Diggler or Burt Reynolds’s Jack Horner is Alfred Molina’s Rahad Jackson, who appears in only one scene, but one of the best scenes Anderson ever directed. His great tastes in American music and fiery rage with a gun are only two of the great reasons he’s on this list. Anderson created a character that any director or writer could easily have taken overboard, but has the right amount of great comedic value and genuinely chilling attitude.

2: Officer Jim Kurring, Magnolia (1999)

A warm source of naive empathy and contrasting experienced wisdom that is naturally necessary for a film like this, John C. Reilly delivers perhaps the most convicted and developed performance of his career as a young cop who falls in love with a drug addict, just one of various storylines in Anderson’s epic Boogie Nights follow-up. Delivering empowered Cops-style monologues to an imagined camera, and suffering for his job in the name of a God he’s forced to believe in following the death of his wife, Kurring is one of the most easily relatable and intricately accurate portrayals of hilarious naivety and saddening realization. Tough part of the job. Tough part of walking down the street.

3: Frank T.J. Mackey, Magnolia (1999)

In a brilliant film like Magnolia with so many characters, it’s easy to pick more than one and so here is another: an Oscar-nominated performance from a surprisingly excellent Tom Cruise as one of the most basically complex characters in the Anderson universe. Mackey is a man who is easy to despise. But he, like many of us, has been hurt, his life changed forever, by cruelty. He’s more of a victim than he is a perpetrator, and misogynistic or not, he’s a broken, unmended man, and Anderson has captured that perfectly.

4: Barry Egan, Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

It just goes to show that Paul Thomas Anderson can get a brilliant Oscar-worthy performance out of an acting failure like Adam Sandler. His performance as Egan is multilayered and filled with mental complexity, but he is written so brilliantly, so excellently, that it is easy for Sandler to rip his teeth into it and shine in the role he was born for.

5: Daniel Plainview, There Will Be Blood (2007)

Daniel Day-Lewis gives one of the best acting performances of all time in a stunning role as a man consumed by greed and sin, a man on whose face we see nothing but unrelenting age, and in whose eyes we see only brutal, unflinching hatred. I look at people and see nothing worth liking, says Plainview, and it is one of many chilling observations that are windows into the soul of a truly evil man. Sure, Day-Lewis brought him to life, but Anderson conceived him, and without him, we’d be without one of the most formidable, terrifying villains of all time, beating the hell out of Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates by miles.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Anderson, and hopefully with The Master, there’ll be yet another character/s to add to the list.

1910-2010: The Best Movie of Each Decade

Each decade has produced some fantastic films, and picking the one best film from each of those ten years is a difficult choice. However, I’m going to voice my opinion, and make an attempt.

The 1910s: Intolerance (1916)

After the disaster that was Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith repented for its racist overtones with this blockbuster hit, one of the first ‘epics’ of all time, and towering overtop any other effort of the era.

1920s: Un Chien Andalou (1929)

A 16-minute masterpiece of surreal, deep, imaginative imagery, headlined with a nonsensical title and opened with a striking image of a woman’s eye cut open by a razor, Luis Bunuel’s debut motion picture is probably his best, and easily the highlight of the decade, whether you think you understand it or not.

1930s: M (1931)

Fritz Lang’s follow-up to the monstrously awesome Metropolis is the even better (in fact, fantastic) thriller about vigilante justice and the crazed mind of a serial killer, played with perfect unease by Peter Lorre. Who can forget his fantastic final monologue, and even more difficult to dismiss is the fantastic scenes that lead up to it. A masterpiece, and probably the best movie of the first 50 years of the 1900s.

1940s: Citizen Kane (1941)

Okay, this decade was easy to pick. Proclaimed by many including AFI to be the best movie ever made, that statement is not far from the truth. And when you consider that it was made by new-to-cinema Orson Welles in his twenties, it makes its presence all the more surprising and mighty. It towers over all of cinema with a formidable presence.

1950s: Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Filled with quotable lines, memorable scenes, fantastic cinematography and stunning acting, Billy Wilder’s masterpiece is one awesome movie, full of everything a decent Hollywood film should have. A “parody” of Hollywood life and existence (reflected later in Altman’s The Player, among others), it’s brilliant to watch and marvellous to behold.

1960s: Persona (1966)

Better than any Hollywood movie of the era (many of which were the dawn of exploitation), the exploitative enough Swedish film from Ingmar Bergman contains a lot of strange, deeply rich imagery (reminiscent at times of the Bunuel selection on this list), a strong plot, decent acting performances, beautiful monologues and fantastic filming techniques.

1970s: Network (1976)

Although the best film of the 1970s is probably The Godfather, I think that’s a little too obvious, so I’m going to settle for the runner up, which is equally as good (if not better?). A thought-provoking analysis of the television industry whose revelations about the truth of the newsroom are as relative today (if not moreso) than they were thirty-five years ago.

1980s: Fanny and Alexander (1982)

While the 80s were a decade that provided a difficult choice, I find myself falling back on Bergman again with this epic masterpiece that spans one year into three magnificent hours filled with glorious imagery and some of the best cinematography ever filmed (thank you, Sven Nykvist), as well as a compelling, classic tale. The perfect way to end Bergman’s career in feature films.

1990s: Goodfellas (1990)

This decade is possibly the hardest one to pick. While I admit it isn’t exactly my favourite movie of the ten years, but it’s certainly the most deserving and socially accepting. Scorsese deserves an Oscar which he was cruelly robbed of for this excellent, compelling gangster tale which is probably the best of its time, inspiring a legion of others and confirming Scorsese as a force to be reckoned with.

2000s: There Will Be Blood (2007)

I’ve already written that this is my favourite film of the recent decade, and I stand by that statement. Daniel Day-Lewis is brilliant, giving an amazing performance as charismatic, narcissistic oil man Daniel Plainview whose control and hatred for humanity overcomes him in a spectacular Paul Thomas Anderson hit, which is nowhere near as recognized as it should be.

Leave a comment below with what you thought of my choices, and tell me what your favourite movies of the decade/s are.

Thanks for reading.

Twenty Five Great Quotes from the Films of Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson, as I’m sure you know, is a fantastic director who has made a continuous string of brilliant, extraordinary movies. He’s probably the best American director working in cinema today, and we’re eagerly awaiting more news about the creation of his newest film, The Master. When I heard that he was working on this film, I got so excited I decided to rewatch all his other films in preparation. You can never see a P.T. Anderson movie too many times.

Here are 25 great quotes I picked up from his five movies. Enjoy.

Sydney (1996)

1: “If you stay here, you don’t wanna get caught, okay? We’re talking about kidnapping, extortion, other things, I dunno what. But not good things.”

2: “I know three kinds of karate: jujitsu, aikido, and regular karate.”

3: “I have the money to give you right now, in this moment. I will give you all that I have. Maybe before you were gonna kill me. Maybe. I don’t know. I know John, and I love him like he was my own child. But I can tell you this: I don’t want to die. I killed his father. I can tell you what it was. This is not an excuse. I’m not begging for clemency. All that matters, I do not wish to sacrifice my life for John’s well-being. But I will sacrifice this money for mine because you have asked me. Because after this, I will have done all I can for John and for myself. I’m going to ask you with all the heart and sincerety that I have, please do not put a bullet in me. And, please, don’t tell John what I’ve done. I trust that once I gave you this money, you and I will take separate paths and that this negotiation will settle everything. That is my hope. I don’t wanna die.”

4: “I know some things about Atlantic city…”

5: “This is a very fucked up situation.”

Boogie Nights (1997)

6: “I got a feeling that behind those jeans is something wonderful just waiting to get out.”

7: “I’m ready to shoot right now!”

8: “If it looks like shit, and it sounds like shit, it must be shit!”

9: “I’m gonna keep trying if you guys keep trying. Let’s keep rocking and rolling.”

10: “I’m a star. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star. I’m a big, bright shining star. That’s right.”

Magnolia (1999)

11: “These strange things happen all the time.”

12: “And the book says, ‘we may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.'”

13: “I’m quietly judging you.”

14: “The biggest regret of my life… I let my love go.”

15: “Don’t go away, you fucking asshole, don’t go away, you fucking asshole, don’t go away….”

Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

16: “I don’t like myself sometimes.”

17: “I didn’t do anything. I’m a nice man. I mind my own business. So you tell me ‘that’s that’ before I beat the hell from you. I have so much strength in me you have no idea. I have a love in my life. It makes me stronger than anything you can imagine. I would say ‘that’s that’, Mattress Man.”

18: “I’m lookin’ at your face and I just wanna smash it. I just wanna fuckin’ smash it with a sledgehammer and squeeze it. You’re so pretty.”

19: “Healthy Choice and American Airlines got together and put this promotion: If you buy any 10 Healthy Choice products, they will reward you with 500 frequent flier miles; with this special coupon, they’ll up it to 1,000 miles. So, I think they are trying to push their teriyaki chicken which is $1.79, but I went to the supermarket and I looked around and I saw that they had pudding… for 25¢ a cup… comes in packages of four. But insanely… the barcodes… are on the individual cups! So, quarter a cup, say you bought $2.50 worth. That’s worth 500… with the coupon it’s 1,000 miles. It’s a marketing mistake but I’m taking advantage of it. If you were to spend $3,000, that would get you a million frequent flier miles. You would never have to pay for a ticket the rest of your life.”

20: “Yes-that-would-be-great-but-I’m-not-exactly-sure-I-have-so-much-going-on-here-a-lot-depends-on-this-thing-if-it-happens-I-won’t-be-able-to-go-but-if-it-doesn’t-happen-I-might-be-able-to… I probably won’t though.”

There Will Be Blood (2007)

21: “There are times when I look at people and see nothing worth liking.”

22: “One night, I’m going to come to you, inside your house, wherever you’re sleeping, and I’m going to cut your throat.”

23: “DRAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIINNNNAAAGGGEEEE!!!!”

24: “I told you I would eat you!”

25: “I’m finished.”

There are so many more I could list than the above 25, especially from Magnolia and There Will Be Blood (in fact, the whole final scene of the latter film could be easily and appropriately quotable), but I’ll leave that up to you.

Leave a comment with what you thought of my selections, and list some quotes of your own. What directors do you find easily quotable? What do you think of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films? Let me know.

Thanks for reading.

The Single Greatest Scene in Film History. Ever.

As hyperbolic as the title of this post may seem, in my opinion the film scene I’m about to present to you lives up to that statement completely. I was going to do a list of the Top Ten Greatest Scenes in Film History, but when I sat down to do a list I realized there were SO many that it was impossible to cut it down to ten. I’ll keep trying, but for now here is The Single Greatest Scene in Film History. Ever. The movie is There Will Be Blood, and this is the haunting final fifteen minutes. If you haven’t seen the film, please watch the whole movie now. Please. You will not regret it, and hopefully you will agree and understand the importance and brilliance of this scene. For those who have seen the film, here’s another chance to recapture the raw emotion and brilliance delivered by Daniel Day-Lewis, who does more in his performance than any other actor could ever hope to achieve. Draaaaaaiiiiiiinaaage, Eli, you boy!

So, what I want to know is… what’s your opinion? Leave a comment on what you thought of my choice and tell me what you consider to be the greatest scene/s in movie history.

Thanks for reading.

A Life In Movies

This is a post where I’m going to give a film for every year of my life. I got the idea from Red at Anomalous Material (read his post here), who in turn got it from Fandango Groovers. Let’s get started!

1987: Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick’s penultimate film is undoubtedly one of the best and most well-created war movies in film history. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio and Adam Baldwin give the best performances of their career in this fantastic film.

1988: Spoorloos (The Vanishing)

George Sluizer’s flawless adaptation of Tim Krabbe’s fantastic novel The Golden Egg is also one of the most engaging films about kidnapping and the human mind and its reaction to grief. How much would you risk just to find out what happened to that inexplicably missing person, even if you couldn’t change their fate? A shocking ending left me breathless.

1989: Sex, Lies and Videotape

One of the most impressive and shocking debuts from a director is a champion of independant cinema and a film which deeply surprised me and shocked me with its brutally honest treatment of human emotion and relationships. James Spader is fantastic.

1990: Goodfellas

What else could I choose? Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece of gangster cinema is high up on the list of best films of the 90s decade, let alone the year. There’s not much more to say that hasn’t already been said about this Scorsese classic.

1991: The Silence of the Lambs

Jonathan Demme is a filmmaker who doesn’t get nearly enough respect as he should. I very rarely hear people talk about him, despite the fact he directed two of the greatest films ever made: Philadelphia and this. The definitive cat-and-mouse cop vs. criminal thriller, it crossed all boundaries into an area of its own.

1992: Reservoir Dogs

Quentin Tarantino’s first film is probably, all things considered, my favourite heist movie ever made. The dialogue is snappy and excellent, the plot structure is quick and perfectly paced and the acting is stunning, as well as a usual Tarantino soundtrack that is difficult to beat. What’s not to love?

1993: Short Cuts

Simultaneously my introduction to Robert Altman, the first Criterion DVD I ever owned and the beginning of an unending and continuous love of films with multiple storylines (see also, 1999 below), there were so many exciting and engaging elements to this great film.

1994: Three Colours: Red

Because this is such a tricky and expectant year, I thought I’d pick a film that no one else would pick. Kieslowski’s final film, and the conclusion to his fantastic Three Colours trilogy, this brilliant analysis of human behaviour, curiosity and relationships is simply stunning. And let’s not forget the astonishing ending. Watch the whole trilogy. Now. Please.

1995: Se7en

One of the first true thrillers I ever really loved, David Fincher’s famous cop vs. crim psychiatric thriller is gritty, ugly, but brilliant. Great writing, splendid acting and fantastic cinematography (Darius Khondji, we salute you), all lead up to a snappy and shocking ending which in itself demands required viewing.

1996: Fargo

“I guess that was your accomplice, in the woodchipper.” This was the first R-rated film I ever saw, and it has had a huge impact on the way I view films (especially thrillers). The amazing, subtle comedy and witty observations of Minnesotan attitude (“Minnesota Nice”) are key factors in the enjoyability of this clever movie.

1997: Boogie Nights

Paul Thomas Anderson catapulted himself to “big, bright shining star” fame with this two and a half hour long analysis of a rapidly changing industry, the key players involved and the little nuances of a changing time as the seventies became the eighties and everything changed. That’s right.

1998: The Big Lebowski

The second but not the last Coen brothers movie on this list, this endearing, funny story of mistakes, money, White Russians, Shomer Shabbas, Walter Sobchak, The Dude, The Jesus, floor-carpet urination and its unintended consequences, rich men and Mozart’s Requiem, Logjammin’, and of course, bowling is one of the cleverest films in terms of humour, ever made.

1999: Magnolia

If you’ve read my blog, 1999’s spot should be no question. A three hour masterpiece of interconnected storylines held together by stunning writing, flawless direction, a sweeping camera, great acting, epic music, and an ending of biblical proportions, it’s no question why this is my favourite movie of all time.

2000: Dancer in the Dark

Björk is fantastic in her acting debut as Selma, a near-blind woman saving up to save her son from the same hereditary fate. Lars von Trier, ever ready with a tool belt of DV cameras, a colourful imagination and swingin’ tunes, paints a touching, beautiful portrait of a life for the lesser fortunate, and a series of bad accidents which can lead to disaster. Warning, bring your hanky, this will make even the strongest of men cry.

2001: Mulholland Dr.

If someone asked me what the most accessible inaccessible movie ever made, I would complement them on the imagination of their question, and reply quickly with Mulholland Dr. It’s a simple enough storyline of a budding actress who moves to Hollywood and becomes caught up with a woman who can’t remember her past. The story moves along nicely, introducing more characters, and leading up to a finale which completely tricks you and beats any Christopher Nolan ending. Ever.

2002: Irreversible

Following his excellent film I Stand Alone, Gaspar Noe made another risky move, but turned the risk factor up to eleven. Graphic and extended rape and an equally graphic revenge sequence are part of the decoration of this Memento-like masterpiece which concludes with an uneventful but hugely emotional final scene on the grass in the park which is one of my favourite scenes of all time. Le Temps Detruit Tout: Time Destroys Everything.

2003: Oldboy

Quick action, a blindingly clever plot, and live squid consumption are just three of the many exciting and alluring things to be found in this excellent Korean thriller.

2004: Shaun of the Dead

A refreshing comedic break from the seriousness of this decade’s previous choices, Edgar Wright’s clever, observational ode to British humour and lifestyle, not to mention countless Romero zombie movies, is a smart and surprisingly hilarious film. The quick pace and delivery of the dialogue is a typical trait of British comedies (the early films of Guy Ritchie, particularly Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, are brought to mind) and is one of the various clever things which tie this rom-zom-com together.

2005: Caché

One of the strongest, most gripping, shocking and evocative thrillers ever created, Michael Haneke’s Caché is his masterpiece. It is the consequence of a career full of films examining secrets, violence and human behaviour. This film knocks all three out of the park with its spectacular observations of human jealousy and secrecy. Haneke’s directing is stunning, also, with countless stationary shots which continuously trick and deceive the viewer as well as a simple but thought-provoking ending.

2006: Babel

Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu wins us over yet again with the third and final in a trilogy of excellent films examining human behaviour through the usage of multiple storylines. Proceeded by the equally excellent Amores Perros and 21 Grams, it is a beautiful and emotional conclusion to a series of films which have skilfully examined racism and hatred, among other things. Those two are the main focus of this film, which is riveting for the entire run time of 130-ish minutes.

2007: There Will Be Blood

Undeniably and beyond a shadow of a doubt the best film of the decade, all things considered, Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic tale of greed and self-destruction is portrayed through the innocent eyes of Daniel Day-Lewis, whose eyes turn scarily guilty as he plays a man whose inevitable path to pure hatred and selfishness is simultaneously shocking, riveting and absolutely breathtaking. Kudos also goes to Robert Elswit, whose Oscar-winning cinematography is a mighty and deserving feat indeed. I’m finished.

2008: The Wrestler

Darren Aronofsky strikes back after a softer turn with 2006’s The Fountain and reconnects yet again with that inner cycle of human emotion. This time he conveys it through the usage of an awesome Mickey Rourke, whose portrayal of an ageing wrestler is heartbreaking, sympathetic and distancing, all at the same time. Thanks also, Darren A, for the perfect Bruce Springsteen song played in the end credits.

2009: A Serious Man

A film that grows on me even more with each viewing, the Coen brothers’ much-awaited film about Jewish life, existence, meaning and feeling is their most realistic one yet. Each Coen film exists in a warped universe of its own, but this is the first to really be… earthly, for lack of a better word. We look at this film and see the world around us, in a way none of us were expecting. Forget plot, forget excitment, forget fast-pace. This is a film about humanity and the imperfections we all possess, and how, in the end, it never really matters in consideration of the bigger things yet to come.

2010: Black Swan

If The Wrestler was about the inner truths and frustrations of the male psyche, Black Swan deals with the female one. Sense is senseless and sanity is moot in this brutal, explicit tale of jealousy, greed, anger and personality. It’s something Aronofsky does well, and it’s a shame he didn’t get the Oscar. Portman gives her career-best performance, haunted by mirrors wherever she goes and shadowed by a fractured personality. Excellent.

So there it is. A film for each year of my life. Whew. I wonder what 2011’s will be. That remains to be seen, but I think it’s safe to say each of these films is, in my opinion, the best of its respective year. But opinions change, and everyone’s is different. Leave a comment below with what you thought of my choices, and let me know what some of yours are.

Thanks for reading.

Ten Movies That Define Me

The following list is ten movies that ‘define me.’ These are movies that changed the way I looked at cinema, and helped to craft my perspective on film in general. These are not necessarily my Top Ten favourite films, but one or two from that ten will be present.

In no particular order:

There Will Be Blood

From the moment I first saw Daniel Day-Lewis in In The Name of the Father, I knew I was looking at one talented man. Then I saw this movie, and I was blown away. This is one of the few movies that actually caused my jaw to drop at its aching perfectness. A masterpiece.

Citizen Kane

Proclaimed repetitively the best movie of all time, Citizen Kane may not be that, but it is breathtaking in its painfully honest portrayal of greed and heartlessness, the carelessness and ignorance of the human soul. It was the first film ever to touch upon issues such as this in the manner which it did, and coming from a twenty-something man, that was something rare indeed.

A Serious Man

Admittedly not my favourite Coen brothers movie, A Serious Man is nevertheless a vitally important reason why they are so great. Though I’m not a Jew, this movie spoke to my inner emotions and frustrations. I think of myself as a very different man to Larry Gopnik, though his distraught plight and repressed dislike of his own selfish situation is brutally honest and without mercy.

Dancer in the Dark

From its unique opening of various collaborations of beautiful art pieces as a fantastic score plays in the opening, to the depressing ending which I’m not ashamed to say is the ONLY film ending that has ever made me cry, Lars von Trier’s dogme-influenced musical masterpiece is a unique event that manages to capture something more than a camera could convey.

Magnolia

You probably know that this is my favourite film of all time. It’s an achingly hard decision to make, but all things considered, I’ve NEVER felt the way I felt while watching this movie. Every single tiny aspect of the way it was made was life-changing for me, and helped to confirm the suspicion that I was destined to watch and love movies.

Persona

A lot of movies have changed the way I look at films, but Persona changed the way I looked at “cinema.” There is a difference. Bergman reminds us we’re watching a film, and the film itself features some stunning acting and breathtaking cinematography, all thanks to Bergman, Sven Nykvist, Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, as well as everyone else involved. No one had the brains of Bergman, and it’s due to his creative vision that films are made like they are today.

Eyes Wide Shut

An often ignored and hated Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut is actually a feast for the senses, and contains important messages about society, living, marriage, jealousy, hatred and discovery. Whether its Nicole Kidman’s brilliant (no, fantastic) adulterous monologue or Gyorgy Ligeti’s creepy piano theme whose notes play with a striking tune like a slap in the face, this slow-paced masterpiece which seems to go nowhere is actually a film to be re-examined and thought about.

Mulholland Dr.

Lynch’s most famous and probably his best film, this strangely scary and atmospherically surreal 150-minute masterwork is a strange, puzzling riddle with disturbing thematic echoes of the heartless mouth of Hollywood, rejection, sexuality and emotion. It’s a real ride.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Often mistakenly filed away as ‘long’ and ‘boring,’ Stanley Kubrick’s classic sci-fi is in reality a beautiful analysis of human evolution, the creation and existence of life, and possibilities for the daunting spectre of the future, as well as alien existence and extraterrestrial intelligence. Embrace your inner Star Child.

Paths of Glory

If I had to pick a war movie that ‘defined me,’ I would scan through all the possibilites, but they all lead to Paths of Glory. It is a moving, determined and no holds barred awesomely truthful analysis of war and the tumultuous toll it has on its survivors, as well as the people who watch and run it all. Very powerful.

There you go. Ten Movies that Define Me. Some interesting picks there, I’m sure you’re thinking. Please, leave a comment with your thoughts and tell me what your ‘defining’ movies are.

Thanks for reading.

The 3-Way Movie Challenge: Boogie Nights vs. Magnolia vs. There Will Be Blood

Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood:

They’re three great–no, fantastic movies from legendary director Paul Thomas Anderson. The films are epic mosaics of extraordinary colour and vision and they present amazing and enthralling tales. They’re all among my twenty favourite films, and this makes it even more difficult to pick the best one. An almost impossible task. But one I will attempt.

I’m not shy to admit that my personal favourite is Magnolia, but one of the other two follows very closely behind, and the third is an ever-lingering shadow trying to catch up. Just because it’s my favourite, does that mean it’s the best? Not necessarily. One of the others could be better. Let’s examine them, one by one, in chronological order, and see if we can figure it out.

Boogie Nights (1997)

This was P.T. Anderson’s second film, after the often-neglected Sydney (1996). It has a great ensemble cast of colourful characters, whose lives are all affected by involvement in the pornography industry. The cast is led by Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg), a young nightclub dishwasher who is discovered by porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds, the epitome of still got it) and propels to stardom through the films in which he ‘stars.’ He believes he is a big bright shining star, and along with his amateur kung-fu moves and a naive determination attempts to make it big. Anderson directs with grace, showing us beautiful tracking shots and a stunningly well-picked and suitable soundtrack. He recreates the 70s and 80s with the skill of experience, making a more realistic vision than we ever could’ve hoped for. Excellent.

Magnolia (1999)

Unashamedly my personal favourite, Anderson’s most sweeping, ensemble-casted film is ripe with emotion and deep, deep scars of humanity. The whole cast manage to give Academy Award-worthy performances, in my opinion. Anderson tells a story of cancer and cruelty, and the lasting effect such disasters have on the human mind and soul. Almost all the characters are hurt and feel alone, and many regret their past choices. The film’s screenplay is one of the most well-written pieces of the nineties, right up there with Pulp Fiction, a rather similar film. But Pulp never had the emotion and honesty of Magnolia. There was far less truth in Pulp, and it was more focused on the comic side of humanity, with a helpful splatter of violence. Magnolia has a unique knowledge of coincidence and chance, as well as ripping acting performances and a decent spoonful of heartfelt monologues. The coincidence theme is original and well-done, and helps to provide a more unique view of life in the San Fernando Valley and… life in general. Never have I felt the way I felt while watching Magnolia. Fantastic.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Now the real contest begins. I’ve plead my case for Magnolia, but There Will Be Blood is a close runner-up in my favourites. But is it generally a better film? Let’s see… The story is an honest one with nice factual anecdotes and a vital attention paid to detail. The perfect Daniel Day-Lewis delivers his career-best performance as oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, who lacks but two emotions: greed and hate. By the sweeping, stunning ending, the greed emotion has been overcome by the hate, which seeps through his skin and explodes out of his body in fits of emotional, frightening rage. In Plainview’s words, “I look at people and see nothing worth liking.” His relationships with people are all mostly fake, and he lacks any real respect or love for his son, whom he cruelly abandons. There Will Be Blood pulls no punches, and is painful in its truthfulness. The cinematography earned an Oscar, and with good reason. The beautifully recreated early 20th century is punctuated with a sweeping camera which makes for enthralling, amazing viewing. The soundtrack is also worth noting. As usual, Anderson picks music which perfectly matches the mood and atmosphere and provides a notable addition to an awesome image. Spectacular.

So there you have it. Three quick reviews of three long, beautiful films. So which is the best? While Magnolia is my favourite, I’m going to have to go with There Will Be Blood. Every aspect of this film was perfect, and its cruel defeat at the Oscars by the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men was a painful sight to see. The true fact is that TWBB is a cinematic success, whatever way you look at it, and is a true masterpiece which tells, brutally, the true attitude and atmosphere of a greedy, sinful era.

Anywho, those’re my thoughts… What’s yours? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading.