There are a lot of amazing films from all over the world, and with the weather getting colder, now is the time for everyone to curl up and watch a movie from the warmth of their blankets. There are a few films in my life that really affected me or were just so much fun to experience. The following are presented in no specific order, and each is amazing in their own right.
“Ikiru” (To Live) is a 1953 Japanese drama film from the acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa. Although he is most known for samurai films and adapting Shakespeare, Kurosawa was also able to create films with an immensely human touch. “Ikiru” is the beautiful tale of a longtime bureaucrat who spends much of his life doing nothing. When faced with the looming spectre of death from cancer, he goes on a journey trying many different things like drinking, showering a young woman with gifts and essentially searching to get more out of his life than being a pencil pusher. This movie has some of the most beautiful cinematography;one scene in particular where the main character, Watanabe, finally finds peace and passes away while singing “Gondola no Uta” (a hauntingly beautiful and sad song), I would wager is the most beautiful, heartwarming or heart wrenching scene, depending on your point of view. If you aren’t afraid of subtitles or black and white films, this is one that is certain to make even the hardiest moviegoer cry.
A perfect film to watch this time of year, “Hereditary” is a horrifyingly raw film that doesn’t hold back and is able to provide an amazingly scary time without resorting to the cheap overuse of sound or jump scares. The film manages to be not just another horror film, but an at times evocative film that talks about mental illness and doesn’t shy away from those tough aspects. This writing style epitomizes Director Ari Aster’s work. Starring the wonderful Toni Collette, the film follows a family mourning the loss of their matriarch. We learn of the family’s history of mental illness and the grandmother’s role in raising Toni Collette’s daughter, Charlie. The film follows the family’s descent into madness keeps ramping up until it culminates into the crazy final act of the film. I don’t want to give too much away in talking about this film, but you won’t be disappointed by the amazing visuals. With its horror sometimes being something that happens in the back, you’ll miss in the blink of an eye. It also contains extremely graphic scenes that include decapitations, severings and broken noses. The squeamish definitely should be warned here, but if you’re a gorehound, this is definitely a film you will enjoy.
“Paddington 2” is much greater than it has any right to be. I dare say this film blows the likes of “Toy Story 2” out of the water in terms of kids films. Not many movies have made me cry, let alone happy cry by the end, but this is one of those films. It’s such a fun movie with its eternally optimistic lead character, Paddington bear. The supporting cast of the film is amazing with the likes of Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins, Peter Capaldi and so many more. The film is a really fun, simple story of Paddington wanting to get his Aunt Lucy a pop-up book of London, but when Hugh Grant’s character steals the pop-up book, Paddington is framed for the deed and sent to prison. He must escape prison to right the wrongs against him and get his Aunt Lucy that pop-up book. It is definitely not a film that you need to have seen the first one for; you will still get so much enjoyment out of it.
Mad Max (1979)
“Mad Max” is an amazing post-apocalyptic movie that focuses on a man’s breaking point after straddling the line between justice and revenge. Max, the titular character, is a highway patrolman in a not too distant future where the structure of law and order are clearly being broken down. Society still remains, to some extent, and Max lives with his wife and their child. While on holiday to the beach, a lawless bunch of bikers burying the Night Rider, whom Max had killed, come across Max’s wife and try to assault her, but she manages to kick the leader of the gang, Toecutter, and escapes with her son safely. Eventually, though, the gang catches up to Max and his family, killing his wife and child. This is Max’s breaking point. He gets the black interceptor from the police station and becomes hell bent on avenging his wife and son. There is often debate about what is the best Mad Max film. Many usually point to the second film in the franchise, or the most recent entry “Fury Road,” as being the best the series has to offer. In my opinion, none of those films hold a candle to the greatness of “Mad Max.” This is by no means a condemnation of those films; they are all extremely fun films (besides “Thunderdome”). It is just that this film brings a much more human quality to the character of Max. In the other films, especially the highly touted second film, Max is a fairly silent protagonist, saying few words, but in this one, we really see Max’s slow descent into really being “Mad Max.” He starts out as this pretty happy family man and a very good patrolman, but as his best friend and his family are ripped from him, he becomes angry at the world and a truly mad character.
They Shall Not Grow Old
For anyone looking for a documentary to watch, I cannot recommend “They Shall not Grow Old” enough. It is one of the most informing, epic and emotional documentaries I have ever seen. Directed by Peter Jackson of “Lord of the Rings” fame comes this World War I documentary epic. We often forget that some of these soldiers sent to fight were really just boys parading around as men until circumstances forced them to grow up well before they should have. They faced unimaginable horrors, and many would not make it back alive, hence the name of the film. We often forget just how impactful this global conflict was in changing the course of history. In making this film, they restored and colorized 100 hours of footage, most of which had not been seen since the release of the film. They also used interviews with over 200 veterans. The addition of sound effects and voice actors really adds to the drama of the film and serves to suck you in and immerse you in this gruesome war.
While no two people will ever have the same exact feeling or emotional response to a film, I think these are all films that all have something to resonate with anyone watching them. “Ikiru” with its message about living, “Hereditary” with its discussion of mental illness,”Mad Max” with its warning of environmental ruin, “Paddington 2” with its feel good attitude and “They Shall Not Grow Old” with its dark, saddening message teaching about one of the darkest times in history. Film is one of the most powerful mediums to make laugh, cry and learn something new.