I'm participating in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Movie Dirty Dozen Blogfest today! Alex asks, "What movies have changed your life? What movies have changed you as a person? What movies are your ultimate enjoyment from start to finish? If you could only round up twelve, what movies would be your Dirty Dozen?" Here are mine, in no particular order:
Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Now here we go, right out of the gate, with one of the best movies in my list. Did you know I was a Star Wars nut? Oh yeah. I literally quote Han Solo's lines in my sleep (or so I've been told). This is my favorite of all the Star Wars movies. It's so important to the rest of the story - this is where Han and Leia fall in love, this is where Luke learns the real importance of the Force and how to manipulate it, this is where we meet Yoda, this is where we learn Ben can contact Luke from beyond the grave, this is where we find out so much backstory... and, of course, this is where Luke gets the end-all-be-all ultimate who's-yo-daddy mind f*ck. Amazing.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
This is an epic climax to one of the best movie trilogies ever made. It's my favorite of the three and it doesn't disappoint. There's more than one breathtaking battle between the forces of good and evil, and the results are always satisfying. My favorite character of the LotR trilogy, Samwise, has some of the best lines in this movie - although I do love his monologue at the end of The Two Towers on perseverance and faith. This film completely immerses you in the fantastic universe of Tolkien's imagination.
Little Miss Sunshine
This is one of the best road trip movies ever made. A completely dysfunctional family comes together to take the youngest member (Olive) cross-country to California so she can participate in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest. In the course of their journey, they experience death, defeat, disappointment, self-doubt, anger, shame, betrayal... but at the end they realize that their love for each other is what keeps their family strong. Touching, funny, sad, and beautiful. It's a wonderful film with a great ending that will leave you smiling. If you haven't seen it yet, you should really check it out.
Where the Wild Things Are
A lot, I mean A LOT of people didn't like this movie, but I loved it. I enjoyed Spike Jonze's take on the classic tale, and I am a Wild Thing purist. (I mean, seriously. Max is probably the only thing I would ever tattoo on myself. I AM the King of the Wild Things, baby! LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!!) Yes, there are parts that are sad and scary and confusing... but isn't that what childhood is? When I went to see the movie in the theater, it changed my perception of the outside world. Walking back out into the fall sunshine, everything looked wondrous and crazy and awe-inspiring... just like I was a kid again. Now that's a good movie.
The Princess Bride
This movie, along with greats like The Goonies, TRON, and Explorers! shaped my childhood. I can still quote most of the lines of this movie (but probably not in my sleep, ha!). As Grandpa says, "...it has everything: Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." Westley and his beautiful Buttercup love each other more than anyone in the history of the world, and their love is put to the test time and again throughout this tale. This is a story of true love and how it never dies. Pirates, swashbucklers, beautiful girls and torturous fiends are all part of this high fantasy masterpiece.
I'm a huge fan of Mel Brooks, and this is my favorite of all his movies. It stars Gene Wilder, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, and the amazing Cloris Leachman. There's also a cameo from Gene Hackman! The movie is filmed in black and white in a spoofy nod to all the classic black and white horror movies out there. In this movie, young Frederick Frankenstein learns he's been willed all the properties and research of his grandfather, Baron Von Frankenstein. He gets more than he bargained for when he moves to the castle in Transylvania and picks up the loose ends of his grandfather's work. This movie is a fantastic comedy!
The Breakfast Club
A brain. An athlete. A princess. A basket case. A criminal. Grouped together one cold Saturday morning at Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois, on March 24, 1984. By the end of the day, they find out that they are each in their own way a brain, an athlete, a princess, a basket case, and a criminal. And they like it that way. I was a little young for this to have shaped my high school experience (it was released a full ten years before I graduated), but it's a movie anyone can identify with - who doesn't know what it's like to be alienated? It's a great thing when people can put their differences aside, even for a day, and recognize that we're all human.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Much like the Star Wars movies, the Indiana Jones trilogy was a huge part of my childhood. Last Crusade is my favorite of the original trilogy (let's not mention the recent fourth movie, shall we?) and the presence of Sean Connery as Henry Jones - Indy's father - is inspired. There's so much chemistry and dynamic action onscreen during this movie, it's impossible to be bored by it, even if you've watched it a dozen times. The ending is satisfying, and we learn a lot about Indiana Jones as a character in this movie - where he comes from and what really motivates him as an archaeologist, and more importantly as a person.
"It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you've forgotten about." So says Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, in this beautiful tale of the last months of a man's life. Lester realizes - not a moment too late - that he's been sleeping through his life for the last two decades, and he decides to change things up so he can figure out who he is again. By the end of the movie, he's found himself... but the rest of his family is having problems dealing with who he's found. This movie won a crapload of Oscars for a reason; if you haven't seen it, please do yourself a favor and give it a try.
I am a huge fan of movies that make you go "WHAAAAAAATTT?!?!?!" and this one is perhaps the king of those films. Donnie is a troubled teen who is in counseling for his "problems" - mainly, the onset of schizophrenia. He begins having visions of someone in a strangely deformed rabbit suit - visions that tell him the world will end in less than a month. As the month progresses Donnie learns about time travel and how it can be achieved on Earth. The two concepts collide with so much force at the end of the movie, you may need an aspirin before it's all over with. Regardless, it's beautifully shot and will really make you feel something at the end. What, I can't say. I just know that it's something.
Mischief. Mayhem. Soap.
This movie, based on Chuck Palahniuk's book of the same title, is violent, gritty, thought-provoking, and has another one of those "WHAAAAATT?!?!" moments at the end. There's an undeniable theme of empowerment here, and it's impossible to ignore. By the end of this movie, you're asking yourself why YOU know what the hell a duvet cover is. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt star with Helena Bonham-Carter in one of the most influential movies of my generation. I really love this one.
This is a movie about a storyteller and the incredible life he's lived. We learn about him through his stories - all of which in one way or another are tall tales - but through everything we are able to see the good heart of the man in the center of all this amazing fantasy. It's also a story about fathers and sons, and trying to reconcile the hurts of the past and make them into something which strengthens us before time runs out. Funny and heartbreaking, magical and dreamlike, I promise this movie won't disappoint - especially to all you writers out there.
Well, there you go, guys. Hope you liked the list... if you'd like to know more about any of those movies, click on the links provided and you'll go right to their entries on the Internet Movie Database. Thanks so much to Alex for hosting this blogfest! This was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to reading everyone's take on the challenge!