- As I was watching “AVATAR” for the fourth time in the theatre I arrived to the following realization: Movies will not get better than this. You can call “AVATAR” unoriginal and all you want, but in the end it’s all about how a typical story everybody is familiar with is presented to the audience. And every single movie experience I had after that one has fallen
t on its ass, unable to entertain me in the very least. So then I decided to list the top 30 favorite movies of my life, movies that marked me in someway or another or movies that are just plain cool and awesome. Sit tight, I am sure I won’t please anybody with my little list here. fla
Rules (because there’s always rules, even just to state that there’s no rules at all).
-1.- Only movies I did watch.
-2.- Movies from any time period are valid.
-3.- I do like more movies than these 30, of course. I had to put out other awesome movies, like most of the James Bonds and other Pixar films.
30.- The war of the worlds (1953)
The original of course, because the remake of 2005 directed by Spielberg was as overblown as hollow and impersonal. You can consider this pick here the way I demonstrate love and admiration for those old sci-fi serials and old movies made with the budget of a YouTube video. But hyperboles aside, “The War of the Worlds” is probably one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, and it certainly is one of the few that can mesmerize me with the treatment it does of so many subjects in only 90 minutes. It has a brilliantly stupid subtext of nuclear fear represented at the start of the movie by the Geiger counter that
Gene Barry uses so unconvincingly (and that’s er mentioned again). It has one of the main characters pointing directly at the trajectory of the asteroids right at the beginning of the movie (a gesture I love and found profoundly hilarious due to being inexplicable). The final scene of the movie surrounded by a heavy religious context that even H.G. Wells himself had to give up to in his novel (“…defeated by the tiniest creatures that God in his wisdom put upon this Earth”). All of this without losing a bit of awesome sci-fi cheese classiness. nev
29.- The Maltese Falcon (1941)
er realized how many old movies I like. But that’s unfair, there’s no way of determine whether a movie is old or new just because of their looks. It’s the story what amounts, and “The Maltese Falcon” has quite some to give in that department. Like every good story, the writing is solid and nev wless due to its excess of simplicity. Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade gets himself into a thriller story with other three burglars to find a value statue called The Maltese Falcon (cue the name of the movie). What follows is the most suspenseful quest for a bunch of air you will ever witness in your life. Nobody has seen such statue and nobody knows it’s real price. They only know that under the cover is made out of solid gold. The best thing of this movie (falling into spoilers here) is that, when they finally put hands on the goddamn Falcon, it’s actually made out of clay, not gold. They have sacrificed their lifetime and their freedom just to find a worthless statue with the shape of a Falcon nobody will ever bother to even look at. So what’s the message behind all this? Sam’s reply to the question “What is it?” is the best clue: “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of”. The Maltese Falcon is the physical representation of all we search for and we fla er get: Happiness, wealth, unconditional love…We all search for our own Maltese Falcon. nev
28.- Evil Dead 2 (1987)
There’s a problem with horror movies nowadays, and that is the excess of the human element. Trust me, when a human is doing terrible things to another human can get scary, but it’s not entertaining. Sam Raimi knows (he still does) how to make horror movies scary and hilarious, balance those two quintessential elements of horror movies into a perfect mix, which happens to be the sequel to his opera prima, and it’s titled “Evil Dead
2”. With the simple concept of “hero trapped into a cabin and is haunted by the unknown” comes a movie filled with ancient curses, trapped things in the basement and chainsaw wielding headless torsos. Bruce Campbell is the main force here, impersonating Ashley Williams (not THAT Ashley William, Mass Effect players) as a jackass, pussy whipped, idiot who’s forced to transform into a badass with a sawed off shotgun and a chainsaw stuck in his arm. What follows after a brief intro is great horror combined with genius slapstick comedy, and it will take you a while to realize if you should be laughing at the scene where the eye pops out of the monster and hits the idiot girl in the mouth or screaming at the scene where Ashley is possessed by the powers of darkness to transform him into a chin-piercing zombie. Even though it has some problems, being the second of a trilogy and so the story doesn’t start or end, and some of the special effects are just plain terrible, the energy, the pace, the rhythm and the shot of energy that you get from watching this movie make up for it. It’s those frantic kinetic shots of the camera travelling through the stage, the beating gore-fested fights, the walls spurting blood, possessed hands and evil trees. God, this movie is awesome, I am watching it tonight! Yeah!
Treasure Island (1996)
Now this is an example of how a movie can be way better if you throw in the original Henson Muppets. Let’s face it everybody, the story of the original “
Treasure Island” is plain idiotic. The idea of Pirates that book gives is plain wrong, and every movie adaptation has suffered from that…except this one. Muppet Treasure Island is a movie that brims and vibrates with fun and enjoyment for everybody. This is an example of movie that kids will laugh at the slapstick and the silly jokes and adults will laugh at the clever visual references and more subtle thin-veiled dialogue. It’s hard to find a movie where the interest is kept high and it only grows as it runs, but this movie achieves it. What’s the best part of this movie you may ask? What makes this movie so good? Many things: Billy Connolly playing as Billy Bones only to crook it a few minutes later like he has done in almost every movie he’s made; Tim Curry playing AND singing a memorable Long John Silver, whose a delight to the ears and the eyes (after all, we speak about the protagonist from “The Rocky Horror picture show”); the perfect cast of Muppets where everyone has a good role and a decent screen time seeded with wit and intelligence; or maybe the drug induced musical numbers with the “Claustrophobia” one being the pinnacle of absurdity and hilarity. If I have to point out the flaws, maybe the fact that only the feeble storyline of the original Treasure Island keeps this movie coherent, but take that away and you might be perfectly watching disconnected sketches from the Muppets TV Show. But that’s not nearly a bad thing, and it’s easy t follow for both kids and adults. Overcharging a movie with too many elements and you bore everybody out of their skulls. Muppet Treasure Island has the perfect amount and it serves them so good you won’t get cluttered. A must watch musical that kick the ass of “ ”, “Nine” and any other of their kind. Chicago
26.- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
You know guys…I give up. I think I should stop talking to you about my top 30 favorite movies of all time. I mean what the hell? Does somebody care or even read these? What the fuck is wrong with you then if you read them? You might be wrong in the brain or somet-Ha, ha, ha, you might didn’t buy it but that’s my way of introducing this awesome comedy. I was
never a fan of the y Python until a few years ago my best friend introduced me to them through this movie. The epic story of a battle for the Faith in God and the most precious Price of them all, narrated through the perspectives of a bunch of guys who ride horses banging two coconuts together. This is comedy gold. Not the type of comedy that is tried to be sold nowadays, that is disposal comedy. Mont y Python did pure immovable indelible timeless comedy and the older their movies get the better they are. “Life of Brian”, “Meaning of Life” and “Holy Grail”, they all are amazing, but the latter stands in the class for Super Smart kids. This is the definition of slapstick as art, to the point that you can use the one-man siege to the Castle by Launcelot’s character to teach a lesson about film making. Some people may look at this movie with buggy eyes and complain about how (purposefully) idiotic it is, but you can’t say such a thing for a movie that is listed in the IMDB over other flicks like “Raging Bull”, “ Mont 2001”, “Singing in the Rain”, “Amadeus” or “The Great Dictator”.
Indiana Jones and the (1983) Temple of Doom
You know all those people who say that their least favorite
Jones movie happens to be “ na India ”? I am pretty sure they hate it because Kate Capshaw or because of Short Round, but for those of you who don’t like this movie I have only one word to define you: Pussies. All of you, pussies. From the first to the last of the guys who say that “ of Temple m o Do ” is terrible, you all are pussies. This movie is fucking brutal! This is one of the darkest, grimiest and scariest movie sequels I have ever watched in a long time and it’s the best example of nightmare fuel in movie history. of Temple m o Do Jones crashes in a zone of India just to get himself involved in the kidnapping of children that are used to dig for diamonds and the remains of an old ancient God that left five magical stones on Earth. This throws Indy through a traumatizing shit storm that involves hearts being ripped of chests (in all its glorious graphicness), rooms filled with bugs and lava splattered wagon chases down a mine. He even goes through a psychological and soul na India break out when he gets possessed by the anger and madness of the voodoo cult he is trying to take down. I watched this when I was a kid and it tainted me forever. When I saw the scene of the heart being ripped out of the chest I could eat meat for an entire week, and it got even worse when I saw my childhood hero falling to the side of the bad guys. Now when I watch it I comprehend that the comic characters can get annoying, but really, with such a horrific, nightmare ucing trip you need some sort of comic relief. Without that you would go insane and by the end of the movie you will be in the corner sucking your thumb and calling for your mom. For those who don’t like this movie for the comic relief, I say fuck you and man up. They are really afraid of this movie, because it’s fucking badass! The imagery is terrifying, the cinematography is hellish and heavily atmospheric, and the story is fantastically well told. But of course, the highlight of the movie are the action sequences, and they are so good, varied and original you should watch them yourself. This is back then, when Spielberg knew how to make ind y Jones movies: When paying zero attention to George Lucas…or at least it looks like it. Ind
24.- Amelie (2001)
I don’t like French cinema, with one exception, and that is Jean Pierre Jeneut. He is the French Guillermo del Toro, a guy who lives in a world of his own invention, that is bizarrely freaky and yet more heart warming and welcoming that the one we live in right now. His entire filmography is filled with movies starred by colloquial folk and stereotypical settings, but twisted to the point that they are not that colloquial and certainly not that typical. I pick Amelie for being the most polished and best presented of his works. “City of
” was great but a bit too weird for my tastes, and “ t Children Los Delicatessen” had a lot of moments where even the perception of the reality we are presented is squeezed so much you just disconnect. “Amelie” or “The fabulous destiny of Amelie Poulin” has a perfect mix of mundanity and fantasy that plays like a perfectly choreographed ballet before the viewer. The universe of Jeneut is that of Amelie. She is a 18 year old insecure woman who lives isolated from the World because that’s how her parents raised her when she was a child. She doesn’t have friends, she is all alone by herself…until one day she finds her destiny. Because she can’t make herself happy, she will try make other people happy, and make the bad people pay for their deplorable attitudes. What follows is the biggest, longest and most perfect series of heartwarming moments in current movie history: The childhood of a man told by the memories he found in his time box; the surprised look of an isolated old man when discovering what’s been going in the world while he was absent in his own; the frustrated genius of a failed writer musing on a café; knowing finally who is the bold guy from the Photo Albums; and of course, my favorite thing of the entire movie, the Piggy-Lamp. If you want a shot of energy to cheer you up and enjoy life more, watch this movie. You won’t regret it. Note: It also helps forget “Alien: Resurrection”, eeeesh.
23.- Se7en (1995)
Heavy atmosphere. When people bring that term is usually speaking of videogames, how the atmosphere drags you in and smothers you until there’s no air in your lungs. Atmosphere is something that’s very, very difficult to create in a movie and it’s one of the most important factors to drag the audience into it. Why do I say this? Because “Se7en” has an atmosphere so heavy you can throw it from the top of a building and it surely will make a hole in the sidewalk so deep you can see the Earth’s core. “Se7en” is David Fincher’s master piece. The movie he should
never and ever will remove from his resume because it’s so incredibly good it hurts. First, we should get rid of the biggest bad red point of the entire movie, and that is the story. The screenplay is, sadly, riddled with plot holes that mine some moments of the movie, turning it into a series of freaky scene investigations with the seven deadly sins murders as the only thing that links them. But that is not a problem for David Fincher, because he knows how to (amazingly well) present every set piece and give them a personality of their own while keeping the same overall tone. It is very difficult to make two crime scenes so different like “greed” and “lust” and yet keep the rareness and suffocation tone in the same level. Symbolism plays also an important role on the movie. As it rains during the entire length of the movie we are presented with horrible crime after horrible crime, and it makes you believe that for the climax the whole perfect storm is going to occur. Instead, the climax of the movie takes place in an open area, at sun light, clear sky. It think it was the screenplay writer who said: “In 50 years nobody will remember me; nobody will remember David Fincher; but they will remember Gwyneth Paltrow’s head inside a box”. So far he’s been wrong: We just don’t remember him.
22.- Fantasia (1940)
Not the last Disney film of the list, I can promise you that. This is another great example of a movie that shocked me as a little kid and that I kept in such high praise I can only do but love it. Probably one of the longest animated movies ever, made basically without a screenplay and as a collection of set pieces inspired by musical compositions from Bach, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven or Schubert, all of it lead by the master
Leopold Stokowski. What follows is, once again, a series of set pieces that can give the kids the biggest glee or the most powerful nightmare fuel. You have to admire a movie that fills you with emotions just using classic music and visuals. Of course, being this a Disney film you have moments of absolute funniness, like the Dance of the flowers compassed with some goofy mushrooms, or when Mickey gets scolded for using the Magic hat, or that part with the Gods on the Olympus having a party and Backus getting wasted. And of course, don’t forget that magnificent disastrously choreographed ballet of crocodiles, ostriches and hippos. Hilarious. But for every happy moment we have a terrifying, striking and nightmarish sketch that is 10 times worse. The dinosaurs being torn apart by the savage T-Rex and then by the burning sun, as they sink into their muddy graves. The creation of Earth in a sea of fire, lava and rocks. Mickey murdering a walking, living broom with an axe! But of course, all of those are reduced to nothing when THE DEVIL himself shows up. Okay, he appears only to do poses and move his hands, but don’t forget about a very important thing: HE’S THE DEVIL!!! The Lord of Darkness!!! SATAN!!! You know, the guy who is the total opposite of good and kind, usual adjectives related to Disney. Fantasia: Feeding our fantasies (and nightmares) since 1940.
21.- Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Ah, Zombie movies. I can start talking about them and
er stop. All that about how they represent the inevitable destiny of humanity as we turn into mindless, soulless carcasses that make things out of routine and that our self destructive nature will end up with our existence. Yeah, all those messages are pretty good and nice…except that they are bullshit. John Romero might be the master of zombie flicks, but let me blow your heads off and say that was only with the first movie, the original “Night of the living dead”. It was a really innovative horror concept and he captured it in a time and place that it was shocking and innovating. Nowadays, that concept is as useless as an infected syringe, and Zack Snyder knows that. Zack Snyder, my God, saying that name alone makes three people with cancer get cured, that’s how awesome this guy is. He took the concept of zombie Film and said: “ nev Okay guys, this is how NOT we are going to do it”. In this movie all the clichés of zombie movies die, and thankfully, with a headshot: The zombies are fast like speed runners; the characters are plainly helpful and cooperative and you never feel they don’t amount to something (yes, even the asshole guy is useful); the way the disease is spread and the explanation behind it are er explain and nobody cares to ask for it; and the black guy (spoilers) doesn’t die! If the concept of killing the zombie cliché concept once and for all is not attractive enough for you, then how about this: It has one of the freakiest scenes in horror movies ever. I will just say it involves ropes, a revolver, an automatic pistol, a father and his pregnant zombie wife. Balls to the wall? More like balls to the vice. nev
20.- The Birds (1963)
I am not so big on scary films as I thought I was. Counting the ones I already mentioned, there are around 7 horror flicks in this list, which is quite a good number, but really being horror the big genre that it is, the number 7 feels a little bit small. “The Birds” is probably one of the most shocking movies I have seen in my life, and that has to do with how Alfred Hitchcock directed and edited his movies. I don’t believe all that “Master of Suspense” bullshit that people call so much nowadays when they refer to him. Hitchcock was really good at presenting and telling the stories, but his movies had moments of suspense only when the film itself felt like it. “Psycho” only had one shocking moment for me, and that was the revelation in the basement at the end of the movie. And “North by Northwest”, my other candidate for this position that was left out by “The Birds” was way too casual and it dealt with a symbolism that every critic I met mentions and that I can’t see. “The Birds” is, for me, the most suspenseful and best shot film of Hitchcock’s career, a pinnacle of editing and filming that still to this day throws me against the couch in shock and awe. When the peaceful coast town of Bodega Bay is attacked by hoards of raving, angry birds we know that, if there’s a God, he hates us and he wants us to know that through their feathery allies. This is Hitchcock’s version of The Apocalypse, mankind losing its dominance over Earth to the wings of savage birds that own everything they look upon. Milimetric editing, a completely non-existent musical score and hundreds of birds to create the doom of mankind. All the scenes with birds attacking people are fantastically well choreographed and planned, but if I had to pick one I say the scene with the crows is my favorite. Seeing how the playground gets crowded with crows slowly, until there’s an army of thousands is as spooky as it’s terrifying.
19.- From Dusk till Dawn (1996)
Robert Rodriguez is the James Cameron of exploitation and low budget films. He edits, writes, directs, produces, makes the music and designs the especial effects. Actually, he does one more thing than James Cameron, so that puts him higher on the work-meter, I suppose. What I want to say is that, while he does all these things, none of them seems unfinished or undecent enough that you want to nit pick it to death, and “From Dusk till Dawn” is the best example I can come up with to point out to people and say “That’s a good result of a one-man-army effort”. This movie tells the story of two bank robbers (played by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) that are trying to get into Mexico and so they kidnap an entire American family formed by an Asian kid, a hot chick and Harvey Keitel. They cross the border and wait for their contact in a bar called “The Titty Twisted”, but while they wait the bar gets full of vampires and they have to fight to survive. So that’s your typical bank robbery movie there…Except for the whole Vampire infesting thing. This movie is probably one of the funniest, well paced and thrill filled experiences in modern cinema history. It is compulsory to say that Rodriguez took on this movie as if he was drawing a comic book with his camera, and I say “took” because he certainly succeeded in that task. Little details like the moment where Tarantino looks through the bullet hole in his hand, the Vampire band playing with human-remains instruments or the infamous cock-gun draw you into fooling yourself that you are watching a live action comic book. And just as a little pontification that tears apart the quality of these kind of movies: The acting is amazing. Harvey Keitel is a power house of heart-breaking acting as the Priest, and George Clooney finds here the pinnacle of his career. Why didn’t he got an award for his performance here? Oh wait, he did! Suck it Academy Awards!
18.- Kiki’s Delivery Service (1988)
Here is my Hayao Miyazaki entry for this list. Let me start with a parabola and quote the greatest comic book writer of all time, Cels Piñol, when he said: “Dying and going to heaven, must be like stepping into a Hayao Miyazaki movie”. I have no idea because I never died, but for my soul of movie aficionado I hope he is right. You see, it’s very hard for me to pick just one movie from this Master, because all of them boil with imagination, creativity and warmth. But, out of all the ones he has ever done, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is my definite favorite. It kind of reminds me of the typical J-RPG plots where your character moves to a town she doesn’t understand and tries to find a way to survive and keep living in this new place as she meets interesting characters and realizes (apparently) impossible tasks. Kiki is a witch in progress, she has no abilities of witch whatsoever except flying around on a broomstick and talking with her black magic cat Yiyi, who has the bad/good habit of attracting friendly looks and giving witty retorts every five minutes. It’s a story about leaving the childhood behind and embracing adulthood, something you can’t do without help from other people and your own effort. It doesn’t tell the kids this as it’s hidden under layers and layers of subtlety in one of the less overblown animated movies I have seen in my life. You may frown a bit at the tense finale in the zeppelin, which breaks the “supposed-realism” of it a little, but still is an amazing movie about the joy of life and how hard it is to gain. Also, it’s the only Miyazaki movie that doesn’t make me cry, and that’s because it knows how to balance comedy and shock, instead of drowning us into drama like “Princess Mononoke” or “Howl’s moving Castle”. (Note: If you complain, re-read this entry again).
17.- Tron (1982)
There’s something I like to do, and that is showing my friends movies they say they have never watched and that I like. I would do that with every movie on this list, but I specially do it with two movies: One I have yet to mention so wait, and the second is “Tron”. I like how this movie has gained popularity after all these years into obscurity hell thanks to the videogame “Kingdom Hearts 2” (it was so cool from the creators to include this movie into their game), as it is one of the few movies that defined an entire generation. Imagine the situation in 1982: You are a teenager, the world is just recovering from the shock of “Star Wars” and videogames are flowering in Arcades and Home Consoles. Going into those universes of vectors, pixels and amorphous characters was (almost) every kid’s dream. Then “Tron” comes around, telling the story of a game programmer who gets sucked into a huge server of games where he is forced to play them or get killed. The modern day equivalent would be…Nah, there couldn’t be, those potty mouth screamers in “Halo 3” and “Modern Warfare 2” will ruin the movie. But it is still amazingly mind blowing nowadays! You have to be very thick not to appreciate the artistry and dedication behind this movie. Made in 1982, this was the very first film to have CGI effects to recreate environments, action sequences and characters. It has aged as good as those Atari videogames, but the charm is still intact. When back then people were in shock and awe at the light bike sequence we all go now “awwwww, look at the baby CGI”, which in no way is an insult. Making this movie was a tour de force, and what’s better…There’s a sequel! Tron 2.0, here I go!!!
16.- The Lion King (1994)
Oooh boy… Do I actually have to explain this one? I mean, everybody has seen this film, it’s like that book everybody has read or that movie everyone has s-Hey wait a minute! Anyways, onto the best animated movie Disney has done in their history, all I would like to say is that, if I have to define my childhood I wouldn’t need but two words: “Lion” and “King”, together if possible. This movie is the example of how to take a complicated plot and unfold it with the simplicity of a pacifier before the audience, the best exponent of a PG movie that is suitable for every audience in the world. Shakespearian plot that borrows heavily from “Hamlet” plus the childhood trauma inducing from “Bambi”. According to the producers themselves, the movie could have been named “Bamblet”. But it was really amazing how the complicated and risky subjects of regicide, fratricide, exile and guilt so well and with such grace that you never feel patronized or insulted. Plus, this movie is not what you call subtle. For a Disney movie it has almost every no-no in current Disney movies nowadays. It has violent fights with punches, bites and slashes; it has steamy love scenes with pretty furry ladies in the cool nights of the jungle; it has an ending climax that could perfectly fit into the final scene of “Terminator 2”; and of course, violence against women (what? Scar’s attitude towards Sarabii and his hyenas was just fair play?). I like this movie because it presents the right direction Disney was going, before they started dumbing things up. It’s a universal tale told for everyone in the world. Right from the beginning, you see the sun raising in the horizon and an African chant welcomes you to a whole new world. It sank me into the seat and transported me to a world for 90 minutes. But really, my favorite moment of the entire movie is, by far, the darkest. The death of Scar at the “paws” of his former allies the hyenas: “Friends? I thought he said we were the enemy”, “Yeah, that’s what I heard”. “Ed?” “(manic cackle)”. Oh Disney, even I could feel your balls dropping!
15.- A matter of life and death (1946)
You remember when I was defining “Tron” and I said how I show my friends movies I like? Well, this isn’t the case, because I was shown this movie by my best friend, and my God, I know why he is my best friend. This movie is incredible. David Niven plays a British aviator who’s taken down during World Ward II, but incredibly survives. This causes a disruption on heaven, as they don’t know what to do since they were expecting this man to die, but instead he survives, hence starting a battle between the Earth world and the Heaven world for the life of this man. A battle where he is the main victim and precious price. The best thing of this movie, aside from the technical milestones I will write about later, is how well the story is told. On the eyes of the people that live with Niven, he is suffering a severe brain trauma that makes him believe angels are visiting him, but in Heaven (or is it Niven’s head) you see him getting visited by these Angels, telling him that he has to go and forget everything in this world. You are put in a diatribe where you don’t know if what’s happening is really a battle between Earth and Heaven for his life or if everything is in his head. The final showdown makes things even more twisted, as a trial to decide for his life is taking place in Heaven, at the same time he is receiving brain surgery to save his life! “A man’s life is at stake!” Indeed it is!!! This movie is beautiful in the way it unfolds the story before your eyes, with fantastic black and white production design and cinematography to present the world of Heaven, and bright Technicolor for the world of Earth, plus some special effects that draw a line between pointless show off or artistic mastery. Plus, it has the first case of frozen time effect, even before “Matrix” did it. For both it technical aspects and it’s plot developing achievements, this movie is one of my favorites, and I love it.
14.- Avatar (2009)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, sush, sush. The movie that I liked so much I had to make this list is on this list. So what? Don’t you see where it is? It’s not my number 1 favorite movie of all time, it’s not even in the top 5. Fuck! It’s not even in the Top 10! I think a movie that really does take you away from this world and into another deserves some respect, even if it’s just from a technical point of view. But yeah, it is going to be hard for me to convince you why I did put this movie here instead of others (like “District 9”, or any James Bond movie not starring Daniel Craig). Well, believe it or not, I decided to watch this movie not for the special effects, not for the visuals, not for the fact that James Cameron was directing and most definitely not for the fucking 3D. My reason to watch this movie was the love story. Yeah! That love story that everybody called bullshit and, apparently, diminished so much in its favor, I went to watch “AVATAR” for the love story, and here’s why. I am a frustrated man who knows will never meet any other sentient species that is not my own. I will never meet any aliens, I will never meet any anthropomorphs, I will never meet any of them enough to fall in love with one. I got into furry mostly to ease that frustration, and even in the games of “Mass Effect” I always go for the alien romance interest, because that kind of relationship interests me big deal. I loved the subject of the movie, how the love relationship between Jake Sully’s crippled space marine and the hot blue alien chick Ney’tiri grows and develops until it’s peak, when she saves him and they finally see each other’s true self. So yeah. There you go. I didn’t want to watch it for any of the technical stand points, I wanted to watch it for the same reason so many people call it predictable and bullshit. But now that I am here let me just make a call out for everyone out there. Sometimes people want to watch things they know and are familiar with, that makes them enjoyable and entertaining. James Cameron did in 2009 with “AVATAR” what George Lucas did in 1977 with “Star Wars”. He took a story everybody knew about and told it in a different way, with stage of the art media and revolutionary techniques. That is called story telling evolution, that is called alternative narrative. If anybody just stays there and over-analyzes the plot, then that person is not enjoying the movie, that person is nit-picking as he or she watches it. Sometimes we should just let go, and enjoy. Leave the over analysis for the ones who get paid for it…Fuck me, I wrote a lot. Why does “AVATAR” make me write so much?
13.- Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
People usually give thanks for important things. They give thanks for having a house, good health and a worthy income of money into their economies. In my case, I give thanks for a stable internet connection, my friends, my artistic skills and Guillermo del Toro’s existence. If God existed (I am not sure yet, I need more evidence) he would be fat, short and very friendly, sort of like Guillermo del Toro himself. Saying that he is God can be a bit of an edgy stretch, but when you look at his designs and you realize he has designed more things than all mighty “Eye on a Triangle” head has, you got to realize how humble must you feel when watching his creations. The hell of it is that Guillermo del Toro could have lived in any time period and he would have still been awesome. If he lived in the 17th Century he would have been a writer or a poet who illustrates his own work. If he lived in the early 20th Century he would have been a comic book artist who writes his own screenplay. In the late 20th Century is where he lived when he started making movies out of his own imagination, filled with freaky creatures and mundane characters, confronted in a battle that deals with faith in the paranormal and the brutality of mankind. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is his best work yet, a fairy tale set in the middle of the Fascist Spain in 1944, where the most dangerous monsters are those dressed in grey suits committing terrible genocidal murders in the name of the biggest douchebag in Spanish history (I can give faith to that, trust me). Here it’s all about symbolism, how the poor little kid Ofelia is forced to go down the gooey insides of a tree after passing through a very vagina-like entrance which clearly represents… repression in the time of war; how the pale man represents the equivalent of Captain Vidal’s fascist methods or torture and de-humanization; or how the Faun, the one who’s supposed to be the only one Ofelia can trust, grows in threat levels as he gets younger through the progress of the movie. It’s a beautiful journey of fantasy and faith that keeps hammering you down to ground so you don’t forget that the world we live in is full of bad people that will always try (even succeed) to tear you apart. It’s probably the most realistic fantasy film ever made (and there goes a metonymy I won’t use ever again).
12.- 12 angry men (1957)
I have to admit, I never realized how many old movies I do like, and it’s surprisingly gratifying to realize that now. I often get blamed on me that I only like new films, but now I will be able to point those people to this list and tell them to shut up. Sometimes you wonder how great movies are made, or what is the basis of their greatness. “12 Angry Men” is one of the greatest movies ever made because of all the subjects it treats in its screenplay without stepping onto each other. It’s a movie about racism; it’s about social incompetence; it’s about prejudice affecting third persons; it’s about the flawed legal system of the USA; and, ultimately, it’s a story of how one man stood before another 11 men to change their minds to defend a kid he never saw in his life. “12 Angry Men” tells the story of a Jury that’s about to decide if they execute an 18 year old kid for the murder of his father. We spend the entire movie inside that room where they are taking that difficult decision as the screenplay peels each one of them down to the bare bones so we can see the real reasons behind their decisions. Whether they are moved by past experiences, solid believe in the evidence or just blind hate, you will never realize that these characters’ sole differentiation is their personalities (they don’t even have names, just their Juror Numbers!). It all starts when Juror #8 votes “Not Guilty” in order to check over the case and read every single testimony to be 100% sure that the kid is really guilty. We see them checking evidences, going through what the witnesses declared, making sure that everything fits, and what’s even better is that we will never know if what they said happened is what really happened! We are like them, inside that tiny room, constrained to just what they are telling us about this murder we never saw (like them). Sidney Lumet did an amazing job for keeping this movie under the 100 minute mark and making it so incredibly entertaining without needing flashy tricks or hollow excuses. Just a room, a table, 12 concrete built characters and a screenplay so armed it will put General Patton to shame. This is the movie I raise and point at when people accuse me of “liking just what’s flashy and hollow”.
11.- Black Hawk Down (2001)
War movies. I hear that movie genre and raise my eyebrow, as if “why do we need a genre of movies that is about War Movies?” I mean, alright, they are movies about the war, but Star Wars is also a movie about war (it’s there in the frigging title). Does that make it a war movie? No, hell no. War movies is a sub-genre to dramas, as that every single war movie is a drama. I have yet to find a war movie that is not a drama but an action packed thrill ride-HELLO THERE “BLACK HAWK DOWN”!!! Yes, “Black Hawk Down” can carry the “war movie” label, but it is first and foremost an action flick. The emotional ties this movie has are flimsy next to non-existent, when what’s important here is see how many crazy, mogadiscian, motherfuckers the American good guys can kill, blow and torn to shreds. There’s no internal monologues about murder like in “The thin red line” and the background we are given of the “heroes” is just relevant to what we see them doing on base camp. Just let me get this out of the way first, although the characters are compelling they are built around one or (if lucky) two traits they exploit to no end, with the exception of Ewan McGregor’s character, who is kickass. He is the only one with more traits than two, as he plays a pencil pusher obsessed with making good coffee who turns into Chuck Norris in the process of the conflict. That said, everyone else is purely forgettable, so what we are here for? The action, and my God there’s tons of it and all bloody good. Ridley Scott demonstrates here that he is much better than his little brother Tony, as that Ridley presents the action clearly and plainly, without violent cuts, layered frames or scratchy soundtrack. Here it’s all orchestrated through the editing desk like a ballet of destruction and death, a symphony of chaos that surrounds you until there’s nothing but madness. It also looks like you are watching a glorified play through of “Call of Duty 4”, a game that has so many references to this movie that Jerry Bruckheimer should complain or something. Although I must admit that the movie takes very coldly the real events that inspired it, it’s undeniable how entertaining this movie is. Sometimes it’s not even about the conflict, you are just enjoying seeing the Americans shooting down these Mogadiscian militia fuckers like they were zombies in the final judgement day. But anyways, even though saying its name leaves a bad taste in my tongue, this is my favorite “war movie” of all time.
10.- Hardboiled (1992)
But really, if we leave “war movies” on the shelf, what’s my favorite action movie of all time? Well, you have to excuse me, but I am going to make a major call here right now. *clears throat* THE MATRIX SUCKS!!! It sucks, it blows, it’s the most stupidly blatant copy without references recognition I have watched in my life. The story is half assed and the action stunts are hollow and provide nothing to the plot whatsoever. “The Matrix” threw digital effects into the kind of movies that Japanese and Chinese action directors made back then without needing wires or high altitude stunts. The best example of these movies is “Hardboiled”, probably the most badass action movie to ever been made. If you don’t believe me, watch it, because it puts “Die Hard” to shame. If you never heard of “Hardboiled” and its protagonist Inspector Tequila, let me give you a memorizing trick: Do you remember that photo of the Chinese Cop holding a shotgun with one hand and a baby with the other? That’s the cover of “Hardboiled” and that’s its protagonist, Inspector Tequila. A simple movie that, in today standards, could be defined like a mixture of “The Departed” and…damnit, I can’t think of any other worthy action movies to compare to this, but that’s basically it! It’s about two Cops, one of them is a rule breaker, jazz singer, gun slinger badass (Tequila, played flawlessly by Chow-Yun Fat), and the other is a departed on a gang of (mostly American) Mobsters that try to smuggle a bunch of weapons through a secret bunker hidden under a hospital. So good, so simple. While the story is well told, the characters are solid and the chemistry between Tequila and the departed cop, Tony, the real protagonist of the movie are the action sequences. John Woo knows how to structure an action film, going from small, tight action sequences (like the starter of the movie inside the restaurant, where birds and guns fly all over the place) passing through middle sized action sequences (like the warehouse one where cars explode, motorbikes blow up and lots of ammo is fired) and then finishing with an almost 45 minutes long climax inside a hospital, reaching a crowning moment of awesome with an uncut shot of Tequila and Tony going through corridors and floors that lasts almost 4 minutes. It is so good and well done (they are two different things, you know?) that, even at the 2 hours long mark, it feels short and you are left wanting more. But hey, you can always re-watch it again, or play the “Stranglehold” videogame.
9.- Beetle Juice (1987)
It’s movies like this that make you realize what a genius a filmmaker is…or used to be. It happened with “Star Wars”, before George Lucas turned into Darth Vader and created an Empire based on special effects rather than an edible story. It happened to Ridley Scott with “Alien”, before he re-discovered the Time Period film again and allowed the studios to fuck his movies in the ass. It happened to Steven Spielberg with “Jurassic Park” (read more later) before he dropped into oblivion thanks to his friend George and his “Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars VS the Swinging Greaser monkeys” screenplay arrived. And, of course, it happened to Tim Burton with “Beetle Juice”, before he made the remake of “Planet of the Apes”. “Beetle Juice” is not just the movie I watch to remember that Tim Burton is a goddamn genius. “Beetle Juice” is the movie that I watch once and again to remind me that for all the sequel, remake, sequel remake, comedy trash, reboot bullshit movies are still worth defending as a media based on creativity and imagination. “Beetle Juice” is the story of a marriage that dies in the most ridiculous car accident of all time just to discover that dealing with the after life is almost as difficult as dealing with the real life world. In their desperation, they summon the spirit of a crazy and sociopathic demon called Beetle Juice, and from there insanity and hilarity ensues. That premise gives Tim Burton to take his brain out of his skull and smear it on the silver screen, leaving indelible images into our imaginations, and if you allow me I will just list a couple of them, the few that I can remember of the top of my head: The suicide victims working as civil servants; the flattered (literally) road kill victim working on the filing system; the model that Alec Baldwin has in his attic that gets the unlikely addition of a prostitute house just to keep Beetle Juice busy; Winona Ryder (yeah, just Winona Ryder); Geena Davis and Baldwin deforming their skulls and faces until they turn into monstrous every day neighbors; the giant snake Beetle Juice turns into; speaking of which, the sand snakes of planet Saturn; Juno’s character performed by the latter Sylvia Sydney; and I could go on. Seriously, this movie has so many elements that, even 23 years after its release, I keep finding new stuff in it! It’s a delight to the eyes, a feast of imagination and madness that demonstrates what a big, goddamn genius Tim Burton really is. And I know he is a genius, as his animated produced movies like “The Corpse Bride” or “Coraline” keep demonstrating. I don’t say that his other movies like “Big Fish”, “Sweeney Todd” or “Alice in Wonderland” are bad, but they are just a blunt hairpin compared to Beetle Juice’s gold covered, edgily sharpened, diamond encrusted Excalibur. And if you lost your faith in movies, watch this one again and give yourself a dose of hope.
8.- Airplane! (1980)
It is hard to figure out what makes people laugh. Some people laugh at Monty Python and their “refined” British sense of humor. Some people laugh with David Chappelle. Some people even find the movies directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer funny! But the point here is that comedy is NOT universal. Comedy is the most difficult thing to achieve in the world, as nobody finds the same things funny. I think “Airplane!” is the movie that surpasses all those barriers in favor of pure and simple comedic genius. The Zucker Brothers were (back then before “Scary Movie 3” ding in) the quintessential stratum of comedic creativity, with their irreverent comedy and their machine gun spouted jokes. You either develop a speed to catch their humor or you are left behind for the savage dogs of drama to rape you. What I am trying to say is that “Airplane!” is a lot of fun to watch. Based directly, and practically lifting entire dialogues from a previous 1957 movie called “Zero Hour” (of which the Zucker Brothers bought the rights before making this movie), this film tells the story of a Vietnam veteran who is forced to fly and land a plane because the entire crew and part of the passengers got food poisoned. What follows is a tirade of visual gags, at which more imaginative. Trying to make a count of all the jokes can take us ages: The airport announcers arguing about abortion; the two black guys who got subtitles so we understand what they are saying; “We have clearance Clarence/Roger, Roger, what’s our vector Victor?”; all the flashbacks to Ted Striker’s past; suicide from boredom with a seppuku; the shit has hit the fan!; is that a horse on her bed!?; take out the emergency lights!; The Tower! The Tower! Rapunzel! Rapunzel!; “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley”; and so on. Watching this movie nowadays is like getting transported back to a time when movies used to be good and worth parodying. Before Mystery Science Theater became the rule and rifftrax a need to get over the most atrociously bad movies, we had comedies like “Airplane!”, that had no shame about ripping off other movies and make an absolute mockery of them. Because back then movies used to be good, “Airplane!” exists. It may sound as a very depressing statement, but this is true! Comedies (especially parodying ones) suck terribly nowadays because movies nowadays are not as good as before (if we don’t include Pixar of course). Watch this movie and relive that golden era of films. You know, when they still mattered.
7.- Rec (2008)
You know when I said that comedy is something that changes and shifts depending on the perspective of whoever is watching? Well, this definitely doesn’t apply to horror movies! People are (majorly) universally scared of the same things: Dark corners, empty corridors, noises with no clearly established source, human beings acting in an irrational fashion, claustrophobia, and zombies. Good thing that all of those fears are present on “.Rec”, the best horror movie ever made. I am being very serious here, whoever doesn’t admit that “.Rec” is amazing (I will go as far as allowing people to say it’s good, but don’t dare to say it’s bad, or else…) then that person must be an ignorant jackass. This movie is “Blair Witch Project” meets “28 days later” in an enclosed building where nobody can escape. The movie starts with reporter Manuela Velasco making a documentary about firemen in Barcelona. When the team she is following goes to an apartment building, the woman who they were sent to help attacks them and releases a virus that starts converting the inhabitants of the place into rage blood thirsty zombies. With that premise we behold the suffocating journey to hell these people go through, as everybody is in danger and danger can come around any corner to bite your lungs out. That’s the best point of “.Rec”, the fact that it doesn’t hold back, there’s no metaphoric sense, no endless roaming through the building waiting for things to happen, and no drowning dialogues or protagonist moaning and shrieking out of her mind. Only a really long, poisoned and hellish build up to the point where the hellish apartment is open, and from there all hell breaks loose. It also is perfect in its horror movie structure. While most horror movies start bad for the protagonists and then things get worse, and worse, and worse until the reassuring conclusion, “.Rec” starts positively, almost giving you confidence, and then it gets worse, and worse, and worse, and if possible even worse, until there’s no salvation for anyone involved. Literally. Instead of having a climax in the basement, we have an ascension to the hell that lies in the attic, the flashlight in the camera breaks, night vision activates, and things get really fucked up. If you haven’t watch this movie then do yourself a favor and do so. This is the sole reason why I still hold hopes for the Spanish movie industry to get better in the future, and the only Spanish movie that I genuinely like.
6.- The Rocky Series (1976-2008)
Are you ready to get your brain blown away? Here we go: I honestly think that the Rocky movies are the absolute best movie series in the entire history of film making…I will wait until you get your brain from the ceiling. I can’t think of any other movie series that manages to keep the overall tone so solidly and firm, and its protagonist so evolving and changing but still recognizable and relatable than this. You can mention bullshit stuff, of course, like the entire existence of “Rocky IV” and “Rocky V”, or that “Rocky Balboa” was a bit sloppy, but the character of Rocky is the main pillar that keeps the series firm, and he has been portrayed flawlessly by Stallone in every movie. Let’s be honest here ladies and gentlemen: Rocky Balboa is one of the biggest heroes of the entire history of movies. He goes from average nobody who only has his dreams to being the Champion of the Boxing Welter Weight, and he does that with the support of his trainer Mickey, the disapproving concern of his best friend Paulie, and the enduring love of his girlfriend Adrian. But we don’t have to forget one important thing: This movie is NOT about boxing. Like every other movie about sports that’s actually worth watching (“Ranging Bull”, “Evasion or Victory”, “Million Dollar Baby”) the actual sport the movie deals with is the MacGuffin to put the plot in motion. The movies are called “Rocky” because that’s who we are with, we are following the career and life of the best person in the entire history of cinema. Rocky is such a likeable guy! He is kind hearted, polite, always willing to listen, give advice, and fight the assholes who try to make this world a darker, grimier place. The journey of Rocky is that of everybody else: He starts low, in a slum, walking the streets of a run down Philadelphia as a thug, and by the end of the movie he is fighting in the biggest Boxing Ring of his hometown, to win the Belt and fulfill his dream. By the end of the first movie he doesn’t win, but that doesn’t matter since, as I said, Boxing is peripheral to the character. He may lose the fight, but he won the heart of his love Adrian and the admiration and appreciation of everybody else in the World. You root for Rocky, you want him to win, you don’t want him to be sad or depressed, as we unconsciously link our emotions to Rocky’s: If he is sad, we are sad; if he is happy, we are happy; if he is angry, we are angry. Never has a movie character compelled so many and yet said so little. He is not a man of speeches, but neither of action. He is a 6 feet tall walking heart of a man and he has his fists to destroy everything that tries to break him. Okay, nothing is perfect in this series of course. I have already mentioned how IV and V suck and I think I should go into further detail about this. On Rocky IV we have a series of musical montages with terribly selected clips from previous movies, a retarded subplot where Rocky’s best friend gets a robot and all that Russia VS USA Cold War scenario that makes no sense. But to compensate we have the best training montage on a movie ever, where Rocky doesn’t only climb a fucking mountain but he also makes a speech so inspirational that the majority of the Planet’s population believe it was what ended the Cold War. But that aside the movie was quite sloppy and that’s why they brought the director of the first movie to direct Rocky V, where he made a huge mistake by turning rocky from professional boxer to trainer because he developed a mental injury after the fight in the previous film. The morals are non existent and the story is pretty much half assed. But, like Rocky IV, Rocky V has its good moments, like bringing back Burges Meredith to play Mickey again, and how it ends with a brawl in the streets of Philadelphia where Rocky kicks some ass. No morals, no lessons, just four fists and two skulls, sadly like Boxing. Thank God Rocky Balboa took things back to normal, though destroying the continuity of the series by giving its title a surname instead of a number, but making Rocky a normal day former legend that tries to keep surviving, has problems with his son, mourns the loss of his wife and tries to get into one last fight before finally hanging the gloves forever. It’s movies like these that you watch to inspire yourself, to give yourself a dose of “I can beat everything” and feel happy and motivated, ready to eat the whole world in just one bite. If you feel down, watch them. Any of them is good enough for that.
5.- Finding Nemo (2003)
Oh, Pixar. I already mentioned how the best movie of the last decade happened to be anything made by this studio, and though I am tempted to do the same for my list, I will stop myself before even thinking about it. Besides, I think “Finding Nemo” is the best thing the studio has ever done, aside from making the dubbing for Miyazaki movies, their animated shorts and “UP”. Telling the story of a father, an over protective and paranoid clown fish without the slightest idea of how to tell a joke, who throws himself in to find and rescue his son, a little clownfish with a small fin and a severe lack of father admiration. In this odyssey of a journey they both will meet characters that walk in the borderland of the best Disney movies and the strangest Lynch pieces. On his side, Marlin will team up with Dory (the best character on the movie) a blue regal fish that suffers from short-term memory loss and is voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, a therapy group of vegetarian sharks, a troupe of shape impersonating fishes, a metaphysical surfing turtle and a whale; while Nemo on his side teams up with the aquarium crew of a Dentist office formed by a bloat fish, a clean obsessed prawn, a hypochondriac, a lady with split personality disorder, a starfish voiced by Allison Janey, a Pelican voiced by Captain Barbossa and Willem Dafoe. Together they team up to escape while Marlin teams up with Dory to get to the Dentist’s office and rescue his son. Like every Pixar movie, the power of it resides on its characters, but they don’t diminish from the action scenes: The jellyfish forest chase; the fight in the bottom of the ocean against the Angler fish cousin of the Xenomorph; the flight inside the muzzle of the Pelican VS the evil seagulls; or the climatic showdown inside the submarine that ends up with a shot that will give Michael Bay wet dreams. As Pixar movies went from this one, we realized what amazing creators and makers they are. They fill their movies with detail and richness, filling every shot with elements that, once playing, work as a ballet but that never feels cluttered. It’s not the DreamWorks style of animation where, while incredibly good and talented, always feels quite over the top and mostly unjustified. Pixar makes things for a reason and they all make perfect sense into the universes of each movie. Besides, who doesn’t feel transported to their childhoods each time we watch a Pixar movie? What Disney used to make yearly, is now on the hands of Pixar. Do not let any childhood be left without memories of universes we will never visit but in our imaginations. To think we have to thank the inventor of the iPod for this…
4.- Apollo 13 (1995)
I usually like movies that have little to none historical background whatsoever. That doesn’t mean I don’t like movies that are based on real events, I just say that those movies don’t catch my interest as much as others do. “Black Hawk Down” and “Apollo 13” are the only movies based on real events that I can say I truly like, but while I could perfectly explain why I liked “Black Hawk” so much I can’t decide the reason why I like “Apollo 13” this much. Is it the acting of the entire cast which gathers an ensemble with Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill “fucking” Paxton, Ed Harris and Gary Sinise? Is it the beautiful soundtrack, soothing and melancholic while powerful composed by James Horner? Is it the fact that, as far as real life adaptation movies, this one is the most accurate of them all as said by the real protagonists of the tragedy? It’s the revolutionary special effects that made the movie literally in a zero gravity set? Or the perfect directing work by Ron Howard who kept all things tied up without fractures to deliver one of the best paced movies ever? Nah, I think it’s all of that plus the fact that, at a length over two hours and a half, the movie feels short and you are left wanting more. Space movies don’t usually deal with how the space race turned into an ice cold fish until tragedy struck with the Apollo 13 and everybody, blood thirsty disgrace gathering bastards that we are, felt they needed to satisfy their curiosity and see if the astronauts arrived safe to home. To anyone who knew how the real events occurred, the movie is then spoiled, but that’s exactly what happens with “Titanic”. We all now the ending, but we don’t know the events that lead to that ending! That’s the interesting part, the meat around a very solid bone of a core that is the story. Ron Howard kept up his tone in later movies, like “A Beautiful Mind” and “Frost / Nixon”, but “Apollo 13” is still his best movie, and he should have been recognized for making such a good job. I really don’t have anything else to say about this movie but go see it, and learn how a really good “based on real events” movie should be made.
3.- Twister (1996)
This is where I lose 50% of my readers, as the other 50% just keep reading to reach the point where I explain why my brain registered a Blue Screen of Death when deciding which movie to put at number 3. I am sure that nobody understand this pick and that everybody is going to complain and say how this movie doesn’t even make it to a 50/100 in Rotten Tomatoes. But you know what? I don’t care. I love this movie, and this is why. When I was around 11 years old, the time this movie came around, I was into science like the most. Like every kid at my age, we all have liked science for the mere interest and curiosity as it called our attention to try and learn more about these things that nobody else cares about because they are too busy rubbing their belly buttons. So it was during one of those afternoons when I came across a documentary about tornados in the National Geographic channel we had back then. It was incredible to witness the awesome power nature wields to destroy everything that gets in her way. So I started shifting from planets and stars to hurricanes and tornados, and so that’s why my scientific interest changed to climatic disasters. Then “Twister” got released and all hell broke lose in my head. It was fun, it was action packed, it had great visual effects and it had an all-supporting role actors cast leaded by Helen Hunt and Bill “fucking” Paxton. This movie is one of my broken dreams in moving pictures, because I dreamed with becoming a storm chaser, a tornado hunter. Point with my camera at a whirling vortex of terror and then hurl ass as soon as it starts moving towards me. Living in the road, checking weather reports and having to stop every five minutes to hide under a bridge. That was my dream, though now written down seems gritty and sucky, but it was a dream! My dream! And I loved it. I remember watching Twister day yes and day again just for seeing the tornados rip stuff apart, with a huge book of climatic science on my knees, taking down notes about how the temperatures shift inside the tornado’s core. It was a joy. It was my childhood. This and Lion King, but mostly this. Because you know it’s impossible to get into a cartoon world, but being a climatologist is more than possible, it happens every day. As you can see I haven’t said anything about the movie but a couple of things. That’s why I don’t need to say anything about it. Everybody knows “Twister”, or at least everybody should know “Twister”. Not every movie has the privilege to be the first movie to be released on DVD.
2.- Jurassic Park (1993)
I could easily start and end this one here just saying: “This is the best Steven Spielberg movie of all time”, and I dare anyone to tell me the opposite. But first and foremost let me just say that the Spanish press can go take the huge Triceratops turds halfway through the movie and shove them down their throats. Not a single movie critic liked this movie in my country and blatantly tried to sabotage its release calling it “cheap Harryhousen knock-of of a fail”. Well, being one of the top grossing movies of all time proves them wrong, doesn’t it? Plus, it’s very difficult not to enjoy a movie where dinosaurs were brought back to life through genetic experimentation and take control of the park they were supposed to be exhibit into. This movie is not so much about how fearsome should we be about mother nature, but about how fearsome should be of mother nature if she is pissed off with the scientists that tried to play with her genetic boobs. It starts explosively, with the arrival of a mysterious concrete container that holds something that eats people in the nastiest and shriekiest way. Then we have a carefully well executed build up that only the maker of “Jaws” could do that ends with the revealing of a full sized, breathing and alive dinosaur. Even 17 years after the release of the movie I am still in shock and awe and chuckle when Sam Neill points at it and says: “Look…it’s a dinosaur”. Yeah Sam, it is *pats, pats, pats*. From there follows another build up, this team even more of a cock tease than anything, that ends with a hint of what was inside that concrete container (apparently, a very shrieking bunch of angry plants, for what we see in the movie). As it goes forwards, the movie really gets unbearable because you know something is going to happen, you know the shit must hit the fan at some point. Then night time arrives, a storm hits the amusement park/dinosaur zoo/scientific laboratory, and there’s a power cut…the tourists get stuck in the T-Rex paddock…the goat is missing…but one leg. And then all hell breaks loose! The T-Rex escapes and throws a car out of a cliff! Dinosaurs are eating people side to side! The electric fences are offline and there’s no way to keep the prehistoric bastards at bay! No place is safe! We are all going to die! AAAAAAH!!! It’s the perfect thriller formula, based on the promise of a huge explosion of adrenaline that makes the 40 minutes of build up all worth it. The thing is that we have 40 minutes of build up and one hour of pay off! I am drained after watching this movie every time I see it, and that’s because Spielberg did knew how to make build ups, based around mystery and leaving a lot to the imagination. Then the sequels came around, and “Indiana Jones IV” just put more dirt into his talent’s grave. Let’s hope that Lincoln biopic unburies it.
Okay, so I have mentioned a lot of movies. Some of them are universally loved by everybody, others not so much, and others are definitely hated by almost the entire population of this planet (or at least, the loudest and noisiest population of this planet). But none of them, and I mean NONE OF THEM, can compare to my favorite movie of all time. And that movie is…
1.- Aliens (1986)
It is the best! One of the sequels to one of the scariest films of all time that managed to mix action, horror and drama all in one without taking the importance out of none. This is the good stuff, the material pure talent and skill are made of. It is exactly what a movie sequel should be, point by point. It takes the myth and the characters of the original and builds up on them a more detailed story, instead of making a remake of what the original was. Ripley is a more complex character this time, with a daughter that died while she was in hyper-sleep after the events of the first movie, traumatic events that keep haunting her nightmares to torture levels. The evil corporation has expanded itself and is not a bigger, shadowy threat whose obsessive need to capture the Xenomorph alive turns sickening and worrisome. And of course, the Aliens are not just a scared, confused larvae that hunts it’s squishy human preys in the dark corridors of a space ship; now they are a fully flexed army of terribly precise killers lead by the Majestic Bitch of bitches, the Alien Queen, 15 feet of pure Alien rage, saliva, eggs and genocidal motherly love. So out of this fully flexed, totally original, perfectly compelling and masterfully paced sequel we have a story about a mother and a child. It’s not so much about how the atmosphere is solid, and the characters are round up and believable, or how frantic and terrifying the clashes with the Aliens are, but how Ripley establishes a mother/daughter relation with the only survivor of the planetary station, a 10 year old girl called Newt, and how she turns into Ripley’s only reason to fight and go to hell and back. This is a story of what a mother is ready to do and go through to save her children, oddly enough something we can also apply for the Alien queen herself! The final fight between them, with Ripley on the Power Loader and the Alien Queen aboard the orbital spaceship is my favorite movie scene of all time, and it’s yet to be matched. No CGI or dynamic shots or 3D gimmicks, this is straight to the face physical punches, quick double jaws and mastery in puppetry and special effects. Plus, no music, just sound effects and a great timing from the film editor (who wasn’t Cameron for a change). This movie was released in 1986. After watching other movies like “The Matrix”, the new “Star Wars” trilogy, or hell, even “AVATAR”, I still go back to this movie as a referent on how to make action sequences and story telling. You are given enough time to meet the characters, to know them, to get (if I should say it) friendly with them, so when they get into danger you care for them, you are worried for them, and that makes the action sequences even more gripping. Cameron does this really well in all of his movies, “AVATAR” is a great example of that, but he did it in “Aliens” first, and with a better effect if I can say. Not going for 3D or photorealistic CGI. Just 18 million dollars, a magic cam, Stan Winston and a screenplay encrusted in Xenomorph chitin.