The New Classics: Movies

In my estimation, we are due for a new round of “classic” movies. I’m not talking about Gone With the Wind or Citizen Kane or The Godfather or even The Breakfast Club. I’m talking about classics for Generation X and Y and those who fall in between.

I am a child of the 90’s and I spent a lot of that decade sitting in a dark theatre watching whatever Hollywood spat out.  I snuck in to see Con Air….and was subsequently kicked out and saw Batman & Robin. I will never, ever forgive that usher for kicking me out. No one should be subjected to the absolute soul-crushing, eye-gouging putrescence that was B&R.

But what movies was I…were we ALL…loving in the last 20 years? In no particular order, my list goes as such…*

Fight Club

I just rewatched this movie in its entirety a few weeks ago for the first time since I saw it originally. Blown. Away. It wasn’t just a great mindf*ck movie: it heralded the arrival of David Fincher, Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Sure, all of these artists had worked before Club, but this 1999 hit was a beast unto its own. All three men already had major successes under their belt, but Club launched Fincher, Pitt & Norton into the Stratosphere of Cool.  It is a relentlessly quotable, endlessly watchable, incredibly smart and most importantly, singularly unique. No one has ever made a movie like Fight Club and no one ever will.

Memento

Thank you, Guy Pearce, for so thoroughly immersing yourself in one of the most interesting movies of the decade. And thank you, Christopher Nolan, for blowing my mind with this  movie. The first time I saw it, I went with a girlfriend and she and I walked home – a good hour – discussing the thing. “Did you see that?” “Did that happen?” Little did we know that Nolan would go on to be one of the most interesting directors of the next ten years.

Zoolander

I did NOT want to see Zoolander. I hadn’t really been blown away by Ben Stiller in anything else. (Though Something About Mary was hilarious, I thought that was more due to Matt Dillon and co.) I could not have been more wrong. This kind of humor is right in my wheelhouse. Of all the movies on the list, I have seen this the most times. To me, an instant classic. Quotable, hysterical (c’mon: a freak gasoline fight! Obeying Will Ferrell’s dog! BLUE STEEL!), memorable, satiric and…well, just a little left of centre. Not to mention, David Bowie makes a great cameo and refrains from wearing tight, white, stirrup pants.

The Matrix

Hey, did you hear about that movie directed by two brothers that no one has heard of starring that dude from Bill & Ted’s? Apparently, it’s got some trippy action or something.  Was there anyone on the planet who expected The Matrix to be as awesomely cool, smart and inventive? That movie came in and kicked everyone into the next century, setting the bar for action and CGI for the next decade.

Grosse Pointe Blank

I effin’ loved this movie. I have seen it 30+ times now. John Cusack is at his droll, charming, sly best. He plays what has to be the most neurotic hitman on the planet who returns to his hometown for a high school reunion and vies for the heart of his high school girlfriend while fending off CIA agents and others in his trade. Not only is Cusack hysterical, Dan Aykroyd has one of the best. Cameos. Ever.

Boyz N The Hood

Riveting. Heartbreaking. Groundbreaking. See Cuba Gooding Jr. before the Oscar curse and Laurence Fishburne before his head became gigantic in this gripping story of friends and family in southern LA. It’s not the easiest movie to watch at times and John Singleton didn’t quite live up to his potential after it, but this piece of cinema is as close to the reality of life in that neighbourhood as you can get. No one before Singleton had ever shown what it was like to live in South Central and his movie is now the benchmark for good reason.

Goodfellas

Full disclosure: I didn’t see this movie in the 90’s. At least, not in it’s entirety. This is probably my husband’s favourite movie of all time and when he found out that I was Goodfellas-deficient, he took it upon himself to sit my butt down and get me to watch Ray Liotta get in with the mob, mess with the mob and then run away from imaginary helicopters. Oh, yeah, and now I’m kind of terrified of Joe Pesci. Really, though, Goodfellas is a fantastic, gripping movie with a perfectly-set soundtrack and stellar acting. Scorcese was robbed of that Oscar.

Pulp Fiction

The return of John Travolta. The Gimp. The briefcase. Loving you, Honey Bunny. Throw on Pulp Fiction at any point in its running time and you are going to find yourself thoroughly entertained and maybe a little grossed out. Told in a non-linear fashion, Fiction was Quentin Tarantino’s “arrival” movie. He coaxed brilliant performances out of actors from whom no one expected much. (Except maybe Harvey Keitel. I expect a lot from him.) His visual style, his musical style…his style, really, was definitively imprinted on culture and he’s never looked back.

Toy Story

Ah, Pixar. Thank you for making beautiful, funny, touching, technologically-superior movies. Toy Story was the first in a long line heartfelt, mature animated movies ostensibly for kids, but definitely for adults, too. From the opening credits, you knew you were watching something different. Something you hadn’t quite seen before.  I have yet to meet anyone who has seen Story who wasn’t immediately charmed. Being me, I wanted to go home and rescue all the dolls, toys and stuffed animals that were going neglected in my crawlspace.

Almost Famous

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world… is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”  That line screams classic. Cameron Crowe’s assured, beautiful, sad and funny movie drew you in to the lives of an up-and-coming band, the teenage journalist on tour with them and the Band Aids (not groupies!) who love them. Hell, even Jason Lee was amazing in this movie and he’s not exactly a guy I take seriously. (See: Chasing Amy & Mallrats & Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. No, really. Go see them. They’re all that’s left of Kevin Smith’s justifiably tarnished reputation. Clerks, too.) But I digress: Almost Famous is simply one of those movies that everyone should see at least once. It’s moving and funny without being saccharine or self aware. Also? Jimmy Fallon in tight, tight pants is something to behold.

American Psycho

This is one messed up movie. From what I understand, it is tame in comparison to the book. This terrifies and intrigues me at the same time. I saw Psycho in the theatre and was captivated. Christian Bale’s steely, hard, charming and horrifying Patrick Bateman is one of those characters that stays with you. His slide into utter depravity, violence and madness is alternatively frightening and, dare I say it, amusing. Yes, this movie made me laugh. I stand my by conviction that you are supposed to laugh and not just at the men and their business cards. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it. But I hope you go out and see it and understand the incredibly dark humor. This movie is uniquely crafted but I admit it is not for everyone.

Eastern Promises

David Cronenberg’s brain scares  but his talent is substantial. Promises reminds me of a famous Thomas Hobbes quote: it is nasty, brutish and short. None of these things, however, preclude it from being a stellar movie. Viggo Mortensen is, as usual, brilliant in the role of the “clean up man” for the Russian mob. His and Naomi’s paths cross in a bizarre yet strangely plausible turn of events and both are changed people in the end. We think. The ambiguous ending was key to the movie and it was so well received that Cronenberg is doing something he’s never done before:  making a sequel.

Okay..this list is already too long. There are others, but I’d say this is reasonably comprehensive.  Perhaps a part deux is in order for the future…

*I left off movies like Lord of the Rings, Schindler’s List & Saving Private Ryan because…well, because it’s my list and those seem like too-obvious choices.

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~ by foodNURD on August 24, 2010.

5 Responses to “The New Classics: Movies”

  1. You missed Dazed and Confused. If only for a killer soundtrack that rivals Almost Famous (which incidentally is my very favourite movie of all time. Mad props for putting it on this list, but how the hell did you fail to mention the epic awesome that is its soundtrack?) and the fact that EVERYONE knows the Matthew McConaughey line “that’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age!”

    You also missed Anchorman, which is EASILY the most quotable movie of the mid 00’s. There are very few days that go by that I *don’t* quote that movie.

    I might be too soon, but I could be convinced without too much effort to put The Hangover on there. Funniest movie I’d seen in a long time. Also, Bradley Cooper at his hottest, which certainly doesn’t hurt.

  2. Oh…and you missed The Usual Suspects. That movie is one of the cleverest movies ever written — I call shenanigans if anyone tries to tell me they saw the twist coming — and has my favourite line of any movie ever. (“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”)

    And The Big Lebowski, which is one of the single most hilarious movies I know. Nobody fucks with the Jesus!

    Also, re: Grosse Pointe Blank, I have rarely laughed so hard at a particular line as I did at “What am I gonna say, ‘I killed the President of Paraguay with a fork. How’ve you been?'”

  3. I just wanted to comment your blog and say that I really enjoyed reading your blog post here. It was very informative and I also digg the way you write! Keep it up and I’ll be back to read more soon mate

  4. You had some on this list that I have not even seen. I have been thinking about this since I first read your post trying to put together a list of my own. What about “So I married an Axe Murderer?” That’s got to be one of my all time favorites.

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