Sunday, November 8, 2015

100-something Movies You Should See If You Like Movies: M-P

Continuing a dynamic and somewhat subjective list of truly excellent movies for people who like all kinds of movies.  For a more thorough explanation of the methodology behind these recommendations, check out part 1 here.  Newer entries will be labeled u1, u2, u3... uX depending on when I add them, so use your internet word searcher and check back in several months to follow my ongoing chronicle of the best that Hollywood has to offer.  Links to other sections are appended at the bottom.

Mad Max: Furry Road –

My dad’s remarks upon the credits roll were something like, “Wow.  That was two hours of crazy.”  Who could have summed it up better?  As with Edge of Tomorrow, you can condense pretty much the whole plot into two separate lines of dialogue.  Why does George Miller keep making these films 35 years after the one which he made on practically no budget and almost nobody has seen?  Maybe he regards it as his duty to absolve the action genre of its many modern transgressions.  If the old guy can’t fix what’s broken, he’ll go insane.  What a movie.  What a lovely movie.

Maniac –

Maniac is a slasher film that plays out through the voyeuristic eyes of the slasher himself, a very reclusive and mentally disturbed man played mostly by the voice and hands of Elijah Wood.  It’s easily the most visceral and shocking and disturbing 1st-person movie ever, and it’s certainly not one to watch with your mother, your girlfriend, or anybody else for that matter, as its images of disembowelment, scalpings, and obsessive stalking will prove outrageously offensive and grotesque for 84% of the moviegoing public.  I’m one of the 16%.  Not to brag or anything.  Would I recommend this movie to a friend?  No.

Mars Attacks –

This probably doesn’t belong on the list because it really wasn’t that funny, practically speaking, and Natalie Portman’s acting stinks, but I once wrote a pretty thorough breakdown of Mars Attacks’ cynical, realistic political themes contrasted with Independence Day’s liberal, pacifistic idealism, so I’ll use this newer, lazier article as an opportunity to pimp my older, much more detailed article.

The Matrix –

Because what list would be complete without it?  Your list is already dead.

Memento –

I really want to write about this one in more depth.  If someone asks me what my favorite movie ever is, I usually refer them to Memento, but now that I have this list I need not do that anymore.  Now, where was I?

Men in Black Trilogy –

If someone mentioned Will Smith to me three years ago, I’d instantly associate him in my head with Men In Black.  Then Will Smith decided to have kids and become Obama’s little whiny female pug dog.  What a shame.  All three of these are hilarious in a weird and nonconformist way.  The writer and director of Men In Black would go on to produce and partially direct the short-lived cult television series Pushing Daisies, which may be the most delightful program ever conceived that no one cared for until its second season was lying in the coffin.

Midnight in Paris –

Midnight in Paris could easily have been a really cheesy, exploitative romantic comedy weighed down by too many celebrities, time-travel gimmickry, and tourist destinations gratuitously snuck in for advertising, but instead Woody Allen made a funny, pensive, and appropriately pretty film about a screenwriter going through an Existential Crisis and reevaluating his blind romanticizing of the past.  Though it concerns unfulfilled love, defeatism in artistry, and inter-family squabbles, Midnight In Paris doesn’t mar its light tone with a lot of made-up movie conflict, as the story’s mostly about Owen Wilson thinking that he wants one thing, thinking he wants another thing, and finally coming to terms with what he really wants.

Minority Report –

The music in Minority Report is really disappointing, too often sounding like fill-in, generic John Williams background scoring.  I don’t think I can say anything negative about the film besides that, given how accurately and humorously it skewers recent ‘advances’ in individualized marketing and the surge of the surveillance state in a probably misguided, most certainly mismanaged War on Terror, all while investigating big philosophical questions about free will and its relationship to foreknowledge.  Oh, and everybody runs, John Anderton.  Run with Nike, John Anderton, and the goddess of victory will bear you to your goal.

Moon –

Moon is irregular, slow-burning speculative sci-fi that emphasizes sympathetic characters over action, potently asks what makes one human, and examines the justifications one group makes for harnessing another to its profit.  It’s also an incredible one-man show for Sam Rockwell if you care about that sort of thing.

Moonrise Kingdom –

Young love and khaki scouts realized through the whacky mind of Wes Anderson.  I totally want to ask some girl, “What kind of bird are you?”  Then I’ll know if she has good taste in movies.

My Cousin Vinny –

Marisa Tomei stole George Costanza’s heart in this comedy and continues to steal the hearts of Boss Men watching it for the first time 25 years later.  “She’s my fiancĂ©.”  “Well, that would explain the hostilities.”

Napoleon Dynamite –

Napoleon Dynamite isn’t typically categorized as great art by people of any persuasion, but you know by the time The Promise rolls that you’ve borne witness to something whole and something freaking sweet. Lucky!

Nightcrawler –

Everybody knows that Jake Gyllenhaal got robbed for best performance of the year, but Nightcrawler would still be gripping and provocative without his maniacal presence making it that much darker.  Using a little explored or contemplated aspect of local crime broadcasting, Nightcrawler undoubtedly casts a shroud of sadism and exploitation over the integrity of journalism but goes even further by dramatizing the obsessive drive of human beings to create the finest, most arousing and impactful version of their craft, regardless of the human suffering they enable or ignore thereby.  Nightcrawler’s level of violence isn’t that extreme in the big picture, but the utter callousness with which Gyllenhaal’s Lou treats it renders this one of the more outrageous and gripping thrillers of recent times, one that instantly earns its place alongside Taxi Driver as one of the great Crazy Guy classics.  Nightcrawler, though, is much more morally concerned than Taxi Driver as a story, though, and so I found it even more enthralling.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure –

One of the queerest and most entertaining comedies ever.  Andy?  ANNNDDDYY!

Possession (1981) –

It’s really late in the evening/early in the morning, and I’m pretty certain neither I nor anyone else will ever understand what director Andrzej Zulawski was trying to say in Possession, so I’ll keep this short.  Suffice it to say this film is way too abstract, illegible, and grating on the ears for 90% of viewers, but an equal proportion will also be revolted, mesmerized, and horrified by its impeccably filmed and acted scenes of absolute, out-of-control demonic torment, so in my mind it did exactly what a movie with a name like Possession should do.  By all means, though, feel free to hate upon it.

The Princess Bride –

One of those old movies that was actually better than the book, you know, back when books were kind of good.  I’m kidding, of course.  There have always been bad books.  The Princess Bride just showed a little more effort than the rest of the bestsellers at its time.

Prisoners –

Once you do something you know is really wrong, it’s hard to do the thing you know will probably set it right.  Prisoners’ crime mystery seems shoddy in a lot of places upon closer contemplation, but the phenomenal acting, direction, and cinematography more than compensate for its scattered logic holes.

Fast-travel to other parts:


  1. Mr. Author, there's been a pattern of insubordinate behavior recently, leaving me out of your list. Do we still have an effective team?


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