Monday, July 07, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the First

Description: Reader Manders challenged me to name 50 films that I'd recommend to people. Movies that I'd insist my friends watch because I dig them so much. Well, I've endeavoured to compile such a list. But since movie recommendations are no mean feat, and require a host of caveats, I'll begin with the following:

1) This list is subject to change. Daily. But for the purpose of this listing, I'm going to stick to "The PBB Awesome Fifty: June 2008 Edition."

2) This list is made without regard to rating or content. I'll be the first to say that many of these movies have content that some will find offensive. There are more than a few R ratings here. So I will leave it up to you to decide what you watch or don't. Don't blindly rent a film off this list and then complain to me that you heard bad words or saw blood. That being said, there are some things that you won't find on this list. I try to stay away from heavy sexuality in film, because I know I don't need to see it, so I don't recommend it to others. This doesn't mean you won't see a bum or two on this list, but I'll warn you accordingly, if I remember. However, these warnings won't be exhaustive, so you're still on your own.

3) I'll provide film clips when available, but some of these clips may have profanity too. I'll avoid it where I can, and I won't ever post a clip with the heavier stuff, but some minor swears are included, so click accordingly.

4) Following up on the previous: Just because a film is on this list doesn't mean I'd recommend it to EVERYONE. Basically, I created a list of movies for a person with similar convictions and preferences to myself, so if you find you hate half the movies on my list, it doesn't mean I'm wrong. (It means you are.) I'm also not claiming these are the best movies ever made. You won't see Citizen Kane or Casablanca on this list (double checking...yeah, that's right), not because they're not awesome, but because they didn't make the cut of a film I'd say "Wow, that movie is awesome, you should rent it!"

5) The films listed are in no particular order of preference or importance. I don't dare. That would drive me crazy.

Are we ready then? Let's begin.


1) Bringing Up Baby
(Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn)
Probably one of the best examples of "screwball comedy," this hilarious little film paved the way for movies like "What's Up Doc?" In "Baby," Cary Grant is a dinosaur expert who happens to cross paths with the eccentric and sunny Hepburn, who frustrates his search for a rare bone and a top-notch career. Hepburn, meanwhile, takes an immediate liking to Grant, as you would expect. Their fates are eventually linked, thanks to an exotic pet with an affinity for music. I love the script, and I love the actors, two of my three favorite actors from classic Hollywood. In this scene, Cary Grant meets "Baby":

2) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
(James Stewart, Jean Arthur)
This is the type of movie that makes you believe in the myth of the honest politician. Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, a noble, honest man of the people who's swept up into the political machinations of Washington by a friend of his fathers, who gets Jeff named to a Senate vacancy. Once there, however, Jeff Smith decides he has a responsibility to make the country a better place. Obviously, the forces of corruption don't like that one bit. I love the performance given by Jimmy Stewart, and Jean Arthur's savvy, cynical reporter won me over immediately. In this scene, Arthur tries to help Stewart wise up to the ways of politics:

3) Braveheart
(Mel friggin Gibson)
You knew this would be here, right? Braveheart is easily considered one of the ultimate "guy" films, and should be considered primary source material for John Eldredge's complete library. The film is, from what I've gathered, mostly fiction, but is based on the real historical figure William Wallace, the liberator of Scotland. The movie has bloody, realistic, hack-and-slash battles, great dialogue, a powerful score, and one of the most emotionally-moving death scenes on film. I dare you not to cry--especially you guys. (Note: If I remember correctly, there is some marital nudity, so be aware. Oh, and some long-distance "dudity"--the front bits--so be aware of that, too.) Here's a great scene where you get a sense of Wallace's priorities:

4) Army of Darkness
(Bruce friggin Campbell)
This is the third installment in the "Evil Dead" series of low-budget, high-camp horror films, but easily stands alone as a great cheesy horror-comedy movie. Not scary in any real sense (maybe for kids), the movie is first and foremost a vehicle for the character Ashe's "bring it on" personality and sarcastic one-liners. I think the clip demonstrates this (though my preferred clip would have been Ashe's speech about his shotgun, the "boomstick"):

5) Almost Famous
(Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson)
This is a movie in which I love every character. No matter how selfish or mean they act, at the end, almost all of them are redeemable. This film follows William Miller, a teenaged music lover who somehow gets the opportunity to go on tour with the band Stillwater. The story is based on director Cameron Crowe's own real-life teenage years as a "Rolling Stone" writer. (Note: Possible nudity in a couple scenes.) The music in the film is fantastic, including the original Stillwater tunes. Here's a taste of the "band" in action:

6) Kill Bill
(Uma Thurman, David Carradine)
This two-part epic follows "The Bride," a pregnant woman shot by her ex-lover on her wedding day, who wakes up four years later from a coma and wants revenge for herself and her dead baby. She seeks to kill the eponymous Bill, her lover/employer, as well as the four assassins she worked with who were also responsible for the bloody deed. This is a Quentin Tarentino film through and through, in all its style and gory glory, so if you don't like his pictures, steer clear. However, I think it's compelling, exciting, well-written, and just awesome in every way. The following scene is from Part One, in which The Bride travels to Japan to seek out O-Ren Ishii and her gang, the Crazy 88:

7) Clue
(Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd)
Based on the board game, this is another wacky horror-comedy, though "horror" is hardly appropriate to describe the film. There is a murder (or three) in a mansion, and the dinner guests are all suspects. You have the weapons, the rooms, the characters--and an hour and a half of delicious one-liners and puns. Goofy fun, mostly harmless (aside from a few double entendres and other cheeky references), and totally worthwhile.

8) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
(Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet)
This insanely disordered love story is romantic, funny, bizarre, and full of heart. A couple breaks up, and when one decides to have the other "erased" from her memories, the newly-forgotten lover decides to do the same--only to change his mind halfway and fight to save any memories he can before it's all over. The movie obviously deals with the themes of love and loss, memory and personality, and the plot is imaginative and twisty. And every time I watch it, I fall in love with the "messed-up" Clementine. Every single time.

9) Office Space
(Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston)
If you've worked in an office environment, you'll find a lot of common ground here. But what this film so cleverly explores is how the iron clad walls of office politics and convention collapse when one of the worker bees just decides that he doesn't give a crap anymore. Great characters, quotable lines. Almost worth giving up your red stapler for--almost.

10) The Matrix (Trilogy?)
(Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving)
Look, if you were in high school or college at the end of the 90's, you've seen this movie about 46,000 times. In case you haven't, I'm not going to spoil it for you. I was taken by some guys down my hall to a dollar-theater showing, without being told what it was about, and it blew my mind off. I'll simply say--the greatest scifi movie of the last 20 years. Yes, I'll say that. And unlike many, I liked the entire series. The second and third part had their issues, but overall, I thought the story was great--though not awesome enough to be firmly included. (Note: I think there's some nudity in part 2.) Here's one of the iconic scenes from the original film:

Come back tomorrow for Part the Second of "The PBB Awesome Fifty"!!!

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