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Added by Larri on 2 Apr 2012 12:00
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Larri's picks: My Top40 of All-time

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People who added this item 671 Average listal rating (430 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8
Glengarry Glen Ross
directed by James Foley



If there ever was a bullshit dialog film to recommend, you... would probably go for Tarantino, but so far I've enjoyed this movie about desperate salesmen even more. I don't blame anyone for not liking this though: Glengarry isn't trying to convey a message (not a relevant one for people of my kind at least) or even setup a thrilling plot of any type. But as far as a story of... nothing goes, IT. IS. GOOD. David Mamet's insult-filled dialogue is razor blade sharp and the ensemble cast is overflowing with stylish, manly charisma. Before 15 minutes in, with blokes like Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon and Alan Arkin around, Alec Baldwin of all people (!!!) sets the standard of total OWNAGE for the other guys to surpass.
They do good, trust me.
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People who added this item 2164 Average listal rating (1340 ratings) 8.7 IMDB Rating 8.9
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Angry Men
directed by Sidney Lumet



Battles needn't always be fought with blood splattering and heads decapitated. Sometimes the most intense and thought-provoking battles are fought with words. And boy, what a treat it is to see Henry Fonda defending a young boy who's about to be seated in the electric chair, turning everyone to his side one by one. Why is he so eager to defend this youngster he doesn't know? He believes in the right to live. And when death row's involved, you got to be absolutely positively hundred f*cking percent sure you're sending the right one there. Either that or don't send anyone.

You can see the end result pretty much right away but it doesn't really matter. Whether the boy is innocent or not, I still see the movie as a triumph of humanity.

This movie also found a perfect spot for me personally as the first time I saw it I was just a week away from completing army so I was really appreciative towards everything in life. I'm not saying 12 Angry Men reached this spot easier than other movies though, it just has fond memories attached to it :)

As you go down the list, you may also notice that I have a fascination for movies that take place in closed spaces. I don't know what it is about it, maybe it helps both me and the movie focus.
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People who added this item 468 Average listal rating (328 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.1
National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1
directed by Gene Quintano



Movies that are just for me # 1
These films I don't expect to find on anyone's list but mine.

I adore Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker comedies. The wooden puns, the deadpan delivery, chuckling at other movies... it's all just wonderful. And you'll always find something new cos they're throwing so much jokes at you. Loaded Weapon 1 was the closest anyone ever came to getting a "ZAZ movie" right. Maybe people thought they were riding on their success or it was simply too late for spoofs, and that's why they didn't like it, but I can still watch it as often as any ZAZ movie.

Maybe the fact, that Loaded Weapon 1 was never available on DVD in our country or didn't get air time as much as real ZAZ movies, made it even more special to me. I can only keep on guessing.

In case I start finding this movie too dumb in the future, there's one thing I don't see changing: I adore the main theme to this. I know I didn't put this in my Top40 Favorite Soundtracks but the title song is, in all its 90s saxophone cheese, pure ambrosia.
Take a listen:
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People who added this item 8295 Average listal rating (5258 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.9
Edward Scissorhands
directed by Tim Burton



Let me ask you: how can your heart not break that instant you see Depp's sad puppy face and hands for scissors?

Yeah, we all need at least one tale of the misunderstood individual, feared by society, in our top list. For some it's Frankenstein, for others The Elephant Man, for me Edward Scissorhands. Only in this one, the town people actually grow accustomed to him, unfortunately, only to be used by vain housewives and genuinely cared by few. It's the age-old story of how we truly can't find a decent outlet for dealing with something different. Add to that the fact that he can barely touch anything with his hand, taking away one of human's special advantages to most living creatures on Earth. You don't need to be an edward growing up to feel for Edward.
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People who added this item 619 Average listal rating (372 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Bad Taste (1987)
Bad Taste
directed by Peter Jackson



Movies that are just for me # 2

Among me and my friends, this movie has reached a bit of a cult status. I mean I know it had a cult status already, but this was some of the funniest shit we had seen at the time. The sheep getting the good old bazooka-treatment had us howling time after time.
I do honestly think this showcases a well-brewed sense of humor despite Jackson's young age. I love how laid back the characters are, I love the alien masks, I love Derek who's so uncool but so badass at the same time. It's not desperately giving you jokes through witty dialogue and winks to the camera every single second, yet you know there's a great sense of comedy in there.
In all seriousness, I do admire all the work that was put into it. Jackson did pretty much everything himself from funding to special effects and shot the movie over a four-year period with his friends. This was in my mind all the time when I was shooting my own zero-budget music video as part of my studies at university.

This movie was also partly responsible for the ground work that was done for my newfound interest in movies. Shortly after this my DVD purchases got outof hand.
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People who added this item 2527 Average listal rating (1703 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 8.5
Rear Window (1954)
Rear Window
directed by Alfred Hitchcock



"Nag-nag-nag You can totally see what's going to happen. Nag-nag-nag this movie ripped off Disturbia. Nag-nag-nag there's no twist at the end."

Doesn't matter. Thanks to the camera work, I don't think there's ever been a movie where they put you so cleverly in the main character's spot. People should understand that the main question isn't "Who's the killer?" but "How are James Stewart and Grace Kelly going to prove Raymond Burr is the killer without Stewart leaving his apartment and getting caught?" That's genius! That's where the suspense is. You don't need more surprises.
Also, it is kind of humorous how solving a murder case can work as a relationship therapy for our main characters, who, by the way, have truly believable on-screen chemistry.

I never watched movies with my dad a lot, cus he doesn't watch'em, but he knew Rear Window and introduced me to it when I was 11 or something. Watching this on a summer night, curtains closed with last rays of sundown shining through them, right before a big storm, was to be a precious memory from my early youth.
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People who added this item 648 Average listal rating (448 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
In the Line of Fire
directed by Wolfgang Petersen



This is what I like to point out as intelligent entertainment. If you can accept the slightly far out plot of Clint Eastwood chasing a comic-book-like, get-through-metal-detectors-gun building, master-of-disguises villain in a movie about protecting the president (that's how serious this is, believe it or not), In the line of Fire is surprisingly believable - and as entertaining as it gets.

Frank Horrigan, played by Eastwood, is, I firmly believe, the apex of the on-screen persona that Eastwood developed ever since 'Dirty Harry.' It very much feels like Horrigan was written with Eastwood in mind, very much aware of all the things he represented in the previous 20 years. Only In the Line of Fire made up for four sequels to Dirty Harry that didn't develop the character in any interesting way by making the hero very limited in his physical abilities - even catching cold at a point -, making him smile and have actual joy for life (!) as well as showcasing his skills in psychological warfare instead of the usual ass-kicking. That's really the best he can do when all he has is phonecalls with the villain.

This may be one of the juiciest, or at least best played, hero/villain arrangements since Harry Callahan vs Scorpio. Yeah, let's get to that later...
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People who added this item 5107 Average listal rating (3458 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8
The Terminator
directed by James Cameron



Many say Terminator 2 made the first Terminator worthless. I disagree. Plots may be similar but the tone of the first one is completely different. This one is very much like a slasher film, and I think Arnie is genuinely terrifying as the cold, unstoppable T-800. All those outdated effects and pieces of synthesizer music (can't you just hear the Terminator heartbeat in your head when thinking of this?) actually help the nightmarish feel. I know guys that think the practical effects look fake (don't we all?) but I find something very raw and true about them. About the entire movie.
Even with the nonsensical time-travel logics, Terminator still works like a well-oiled machine.

That endo-skeleton is worth a spot on this list alone.
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People who added this item 5841 Average listal rating (3676 ratings) 8.7 IMDB Rating 9.2
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather
directed by Francis Ford Coppola



Another maybe-too-predictable choice but The Godfather's perhaps the least personal movie on the list also. See, I don't think I even know what this movie is about! Sure, it's a tale of Michael Corleone reluctantly rising to the throne and how power corrupts him, but I'm certain there's much more that I'm missing. Like maybe if I came from a different place and background, I would understand The Godfather more thoroughly.

Does it mean then that I'm simply putting this on the list cause I'm going with the flow, y'know?
Unless I'm fooling myself, I don't think so. Despite being not so personal, I still have a huge admiration for this movie. Just a piece of wonderful cinematography (coming from a guy who doesn't know a thing about cinematography, yet I can say this about Il Padrino), unforgettable actors + characters + performances, immortal musical score, violence that actually makes me feel something instead of just being there for the hell of it. Also, the third time I watched this, Clemenza. Loved this character! How could I not have noticed him earlier?

There's sort of an aura around Godfather. Maybe it's the reputation and classic status it's reached, but you can feel the true majesty when you sit down and watch the movie.

The next day I saw this for the first time, I remember going to the bathroom and stuffing my cheeks full of cotton. Then, naturally, I started making weak-ass Vito impersonations for the next years.
My friends disappeared somewhere.
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People who added this item 224 Average listal rating (136 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7
UHF (1989)
UHF
directed by Jay Levey



Movies that are just for me # 3

If you wanna be cruel, you could almost say Weird Al's style of spoofing without much real satire or things to say about its target is closer to Seltzer/Friedberg (!!!) stuff than, say, Brooks or Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker. By this I mean, he recreates scenes from famous movies with no real connection to the plot whatsoever and changes lines or something.
The difference? He's funny.
Admittedly, Weird Al's sense of humor can be kind of impish and over-the-top but it's very much in the style of his records he's known for. At least he doesn't just add "BITCH" to famous lines he's parodying or resort to pottymouth, which is respectable in itself.

UHF may not be what you would call "an intelligent comedy" like Dr. Strangelove or something but it's a movie that looks like its creator. And, as Homer Simpson said:

"He who is tired of Weird Al is tired of life."
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People who added this item 4934 Average listal rating (3272 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.6
Batman (1989)
Batman
directed by Tim Burton



I watched the Nolan movies. I watched them again. I started to like em.
I watched two box sets of the Timm/Radomski Animated Series. I liked them. A lot.
I saw the Nolan movies. They really started to grow on me.
I read some of the comics. I loved them. I Saw Batman in a whole new light, the way comic book readers see him.

Then, after many years, I went back to Burton's Batman, the first superhero movie I ever saw.
It was supposed to suck. I knew the real Batman know. I knew my precious memories were about to be thrown in the bin, but I went for it anyway. There was no way I could like it anymore.

*2 hrs later*

Son of a bitch...

I loved it more than ever. If that's even possible.

It wasn't the most truthful BATMAN adaptation ever but looking it as an achievement of its own, it's fantastic! I think in terms of tone and atmosphere it's one of the most versatile and distinguishable superhero movies of today. There's something operatic about it as opposed to most of its peers.

What is the best version of Batman then? I don't know. Depends on how you look at The Caped Crusader. Does there have to be only one? Going through all the different interpretations of Batman has been so fulfilling, given me so much joy and made my image of Batman so much stronger that I don't think there's any point in choosing one over another.
I have no credibility as a Batman enthusiast anymore, but hey - it was worth losin that credibility.
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People who added this item 4021 Average listal rating (2689 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.2
Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard
directed by John McTiernan



After many years and much consideration, I sadly had to drop Léon. Nothing was really wrong with it the fourth time around, except the biggest thing that can be wrong: it lacked immersion. I couldn't find new interesting things about it (except that straight vertical lines curved outwards near the sides of the screen. Interesting...?) nor were old bits any stronger than I remembered.

Die Hard has proved to be the exact opposite. I've seen this roughly ten times over ten years and it just gets better. But I didn't love it at first! No, seeing it at 17 I didn't understand all the choices they'd made for "the greatest action flick of all-time" especially since a lot of them didn't seem all that clever or bombastic.

However, not wanting to be the loneliest man on Earth you come to like something because you so desperately want to. So began my hypo-sensitization for Die Hard. It's easy to see why this is considered such a milestone in action cinema now. You just have to see past certain things to appreciate parts that are way more relevant. Like the fact that it actually has a tense plot and story (good Heavens!), relationships that develop and characters thinking over their actions and values. All this paved way for a new kind of action film while managing to make it an alternative Christmas movie as well. By every November, when nights get dark and cold, I long for some Die Hard to start the countdown to Xmas.
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People who added this item 4378 Average listal rating (2998 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.5
Alien (1979)
Alien
directed by Ridley Scott



To sum it up: a movie so fantastic even the cat is a great actor.

To elaborate: I've noticed that many of the best movies are the ones that are already consistently gripping but then they push it over to greatness with one thing. Just one thing. An insight. In Alien, it's the moment when Ash is revealed to be an android (see pic above). A malicious one. I've gotten used to the xenomorph over the years but seeing someone suddenly act completely against their nature in such a violent way - that's disturbing as fuck! That's what really enforces the nightmare we experience - as if it's not enough we're in this stressful situation but the fabric of reality is starting to collapse on us. It's not a twist we necessarily ever needed, but it does give it an extra push toward the classic status it rightly deserves.
What follows, of course, is Ash's bone-chilling schadenfreude over the remaining crew's hopeless odds of surviving.

"You have my sympathies :)" What a dick.
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People who added this item 940 Average listal rating (533 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
American Graffiti
directed by George Lucas



You know why I honestly can't diss George "The punchline of the 21st Century" Lucas? Because of American Graffiti. I was willing to believe Star Wars was a lucky shot but you can't catch lightning in a bottle TWICE by sheer accident.

Aside from its charming vintage look and likable characters, I just love the fact that they decided not to go with any important plot in the movie which provides Graffiti its loose structure. That's how it works best. All I need to do is sit back and hang out with these youngsters of the early 60's. I can pop this movie in at any time of day and it never fails to charm.
On top of that, the movie deals with very relatable issues such as leaving your hometown and parting from your old friends, and, um... buying booze.

It's an issue!

But doesn't that mundanity capture life way better than forced conflicts and clear schemes that all come together?
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Raiders of the Lost Ark
directed by Steven Spielberg



Raiders of the Lost Ark, an homage to 30s adventure series and a load of pure romp, taught me one of the most important lessons of art. While digesting Judd Apatow's "This is 40" I thought that was a movie that had actual significance. It raises real questions about life as a parent without hiding it behind allegories but hitting them straight on. Yet, nobody considers that one a greater achievement than a movie absolutely no one is watching for the social content. Including me.

So, what's the lesson then? That you shouldn't even strive to strike real issues at all but make fun adventure flicks?

No, it's that a piece of art can have the greatest value in the world being exactly what it is. Raiders doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. Instead, it's inspired storytelling and filmmaking at such a high level it gives you acrophobia.
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People who added this item 7063 Average listal rating (4678 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.5
Back to the Future
directed by Robert Zemeckis



At one point, I was particularly looking for popular movies from the 80s and early 90s just to catch up with other folks. I wanted to experience the careless fun in catching ghosts with Bill Murray or spending the day off with Ferris Bueller & I could almost see myself calling my friends right away and praise what I just saw.

Unfortunately, that didn't always happen. I realized there has to be more than that. In addition to its fun characters, OK comedy, groovy songs and musical orchestrations, and adventurous feel, Back to the Future delivered with its mind-bending logics of time traveling. Sure there's holes in the logic but I still appreciate Zemeckis and Bob Gale's ambition to even try. By the third time I watched this, none of those holes mattered anyway and I could safely say the SUPER FUN quality of this movie was more than confirmed!
The moment I knew I was gonna love this was the climax. It's the thing that Disney/Pixar perfected in their productions: fast-paced, both thrilling and funny with lots of little twists and turns one after another. No need to rely on blasting guns (excluding the Lebanese dudes) or mandatory bad guys (excluding the Lebanese dudes), just focus on getting Marty out of that absurd situation he's got into. Even though you know he's gonna get out of it, you'll still feel exhilarated.
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People who added this item 1463 Average listal rating (1060 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
First Blood (1982)
First Blood
directed by Ted Kotcheff



You know the occasions you come across every once in a while when you see a movie and it's like you've seen it before. NOT in a "Oh I know what's going to happen, this is way too predictable" -way but in a sense that it's everything you expect it to be in terms of look and atmosphere and style. It's really rare that a movie lives up to one's expectations this closely, especially when those expectations of mine were pretty high to begin with!
But at the same time, First Blood dodged some pits I was afraid of: Rambo didn't go killing hundreds of people (how many deaths were there again?), the main bad guy wasn't your run-of-the-mill James Bond villain, and - what do you know! - Rambo didn't exactly ride off into the sunset in the end. It left me, it still does, with feelings very unusual for this kind of film.
The action itself hasn't dated all that well, but it doesn't matter when the impact of the action comes from the drama behind the situation. It's not hard to root for a guy who's been treated so unjustly simply because he wanted some breakfast.
On top of that, when you put a guy, that I've been in love with since Rocky, to a main role, man you got me loving this too.
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People who added this item 3472 Average listal rating (2141 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
Rain Man (1988)
Rain Man
directed by Barry Levinson



To narrow it down, there's three things Rain Man did for me: first of all, it introduced me to Dustin Hoffman. Secondly, along with Collateral, it slowly changed my opinion of Tom Cruise even to a point where I think his portrayal of Charlie Babbitt is a truly underrated screen-performance.
But ultimately, Rain Man made me realize that it's not obligatory for a movie to say something deeply philosophical or attack governments or do something bigger than life to be really, really good. At that time whenever I watched movies (2008) I was looking for symbolism and social commentaries where there wasn't any to be found. Thus, it distracted me from the plot way too often. Besides, when you can't follow what's happening, what's the use of looking for symbolism when you can't put it in context?

Sure, this Barry Levinson film brought autism to daylight but first and foremost it's simply a highly entertaining road movie carried by two polar opposite performances and the unlikely connection that builds up along the way. The douchebag brother Charlie growing up a less selfish human being basically made me understand character development. Can you imagine, a concept as basic as character development, wasn't really self-explanatory for me at the time. Hey, we all have to start somewhere.
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People who added this item 564 Average listal rating (359 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.9
The Killer (1989)
Dip huet seung hung a/k/a The Killer
directed by John Woo



Commentary here: www.listal.com/list/lights-camera-action-greatest-action # 6
But in short: while I'm not completely invested in the love triangle, the pure melancholy accompanied by the music and the aggression that explodes into some of the finest shootouts ever put on film, makes this one atmospheric actioner.

It's hard for me to come up with anything I haven't said already or pinpoint exactly what it is about this that I find appealing, so I'll try briefly explaining it the way I experienced it: The Killer's one of those movies that felt very familiar right from the beginning. Like a memory that surfaced after years. Those rare moments will never go out of date.
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People who added this item 2274 Average listal rating (1527 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.2
The Thing (1982)
The Thing
directed by John Carpenter



Bhrrhr, that thing is gonna haunt me to my grave.

You can probably see that I love the scenario of people being isolated in an unknown area, attacked by an unknown threat. While that is the recipe for a lot of weak slasher-films as well, done right it'll easily earn a spot on my list.
Apart from it's visuals and slightly less star-filled cast, what separates this from 'Alien' and others, is the fact there's no real solid monster creature seeing that it mostly takes the form of the body it's taking over (correct me if I explained it poorly). So while the icky practical effects by Rob Bottin are jaw-droppingly masterful, it's the paranoia that leaves the lasting impact. Anyone can be taken over by "the thing", but there's little telling who it might be. That alone is enough to make you question everyone around you. No matter how many times I see the famous blood test scene, I can never remember it well enough to not sweat when watching it.

What I also liked about the movie is that despite starring Kurt Russell he never felt like a show-stopper to me. He's the main character, undeniably, but he's still one of the guys, and possibly even infected by the "the thing." Both the actor and director John Carpenter were later known for comedic productions too but I'm glad they took the movie seriously and left it the way it is today.
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People who added this item 2093 Average listal rating (1295 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8
Dances with Wolves
directed by Kevin Costner



Hatred of life - 2009. I despised myself for being the spineless turd I was. I didn't have energy for anything. I was even kinda tired of movies. I thought my movie-watching days were over when I simply couldn't find movies I'd really, REALLY, like.

Then this came along. Of all the people in the world, I never expected Kevin Costner, the embodiment of blandness, to be the man responsible for reviving my interest in films. Plus, it was a three-hour Western/fictitious historical epic. Everything about it was supposed to put me to sleep.

But no. Right from the beginning, when John Barry's score started playing quietly in the background and we got to witness the horrors of war, it grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go. Then, of course, there was the story that started wearing out big time especially after Disney, Tom Cruise and James Cameron tried their hands on it. But I don't think it's a bad story, on the contrary. Done right, it's beautiful. Dances with Wolves is told with the focus on John Dunbar and The Sioux getting to know each other and with a three-hour running time you can be sure their companionship doesn't feel sporadic.
On top of that, the desert looks unbelievable, the actors are great (even Costner's surprisingly animate. I guess the right one to direct him is himself), John Barry's musical contribution is still one of my favorite scores to this day, and I can't help but feel this portrayed the Native Americans in an honorable manner for the first time since Little Big Man.

[Smaller-than-three]
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People who added this item 5652 Average listal rating (3741 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 9.3
The Shawshank Redemption
directed by Frank Darabont



There are movies like "Gomorra" and such that I can only appreciate if I think about them hard enough to get their ideas and what they're going for. To work my way into the movie. Which isn't necessarily bad, but it can feel more like a chore than anything else.
This is the very definition of a movie that I don't need to analyze every second in order to like it, yet it isn't anywhere near thoughtless. A movie that I can just live and feel everything that goes on.
This really was an eye-opener for me in a sense that it portrayed prisoners as humans, not just rapists and Danny Trejo -looking murderers. Sure, it did have the rapists as well, not to mention the one-dimensional evil warden, and it wasn't the FIRST movie to do so, not by a long shot, but it's still among the most likable ones. What also surprised me was that it really wasn't as hateful and negative as I thought it would be, but a relatively calm take on a beautiful tale that isn't afraid to take its time to restore your faith in humanity.
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People who added this item 618 Average listal rating (361 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.9
Hard Boiled (1992)
Lat sau san taam a/k/a Hard Boiled
directed by John Woo



Perhaps I'm the only one calling Hard Boiled a style-over-substance film but, frankly put, I think Hard Boiled could've delved much deeper into that whole undercover stuff and explored a little bit.

Or maybe I just don't understand film language. I wouldn't be surprised by that either.

Anyway, style-over-substance is a hard thing to pull off because if you don't like the director's stylistic choices then what is there to back the movie up?
Luckily, Hard Boiled is no problem for me. What's the point of Chow Yun-Fat playing clarinette in a jazz club? Or the slow-mo drink mixing in the beginning? Or Chow Yun-Fat holding a baby and singing to him while shooting bad guys? I don't know, yet I can't take my eyes off the movie! Even when there's no action, it's so friggin' atmospheric and cool it oughta be illegal. Take note of how it utilizes techniques you don't see often in action cinema (or just call it 'artsy').
But it also did a kind of a disservice to action genre in general. After Hard Boiled, it took me an entire year to get excited over an action movie because I constantly kept comparing everything to some of the finest action scenes ever put to film.
I think that says something.

I tried showing Hard Boiled to my big sister once. Before ten minutes in, she got bored and confused, and we quit.

Sadly, I had to murder her.
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People who added this item 4978 Average listal rating (3380 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.5
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
directed by James Cameron



Long story short, aside from humongous action scenes and set pieces, characters that evolve through the course of the movie, and production values in general that were upped to the point where there was really nothing left to ask for in a summer blockbuster, what initially sold this to me was the fact that it managed to convey that sense of humankind near possible extinction. Even though it mainly involved only a handful of people. I know it's an individual thing what gives you the sense of the end of the world and some people probably get that from "2012" rather than this but for me it's definitely T2.
And when there was that extra bit of drama there, I think that's what carries this so damn well over the years.

That and "Bad to the Bone." NA-NA-NA-NA-NA!

Of course, when there's a movie that's been brewing in your mind since the days you started watching movies, you could eventually talk about them all day long and not do justice. Same with this.
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People who added this item 3835 Average listal rating (2365 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.3
Scarface (1983)
Scarface
directed by Brian De Palma



This was my introduction to "serious" movies from the time I found my interest in films again. By 'serious' I mean they weren't comedies, horror or straight up action movies. Now looking at Scarface, I can say there are much, much more "serious" movies. And, by 'serious' I mean not as much foul language and violence. More 'subtle' if you will.

So, I guess I'm trying to say that this was an important middle piece in moving from pure entertainment onto movies that don't need to rely on, umm... "tricks."
Dammit, this is so hard to explain without sounding like an ass.

Anyway, this was/is definitely the movie for both my teenager and today-self. At the time, there was still enough 'rapper' in me that watching 'Scarface' made me bond with the whole rap community that has taken so much influence from the movie but not so much that I would've become a Tony Montana fanboy or totally blind to its flaws. So, instead of just being a stupid little rap kid, I was interested in films and 80s culture in general, too. It couldn't have been a more perfect time for seeing it. There still isn't too many movies I have been able to enjoy on so many levels.

Do I need to go on? This movie gave me Al Pacino. It gave me Giorgio Moroder and the soundtrack of my life. It made me, if only temporarily, part of something. It left me sitting on my bed mouth wide-open all throughout the end credits. That's an unusual experience today.
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The Usual Suspects
directed by Bryan Singer



"Well, lookitthat. Another clown fooled into thinking The Usual Suspects is a masterpiece by that predictable gimmick of an ending."

I say forget about the ending. Just look at how they start out, how they then pull back, how they introduce the main bunch and how they manage to keep the chemistry working. It pulled me in, at least.
All this in a mystery story that's very grim and violent but, at the same time, very classy and humorous too. You don't find that in Saw, do you?
Not to mention, if you can make Stephen Baldwin funny, you're doing something right.

Also, a definite Top5 villain. Like straight up supervillain territory. The way Keyzer Soze's depicted almost like a mythical figure only adds to the superb storytelling.

(By the way, the ending undeniably had an impact. And I like Saw too.)
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Heat (1995)
Heat
directed by Michael Mann



Heat sort of changed my perception of the good/evil division in movies. Heat took the premise of a typical action movie but fleshed out all the characters. It made its criminals sympathetic but didn't romantisize their lives to the point of bed of roses. It made its "hero" a work-a-holic on the verge of his third divorce but didn't make him an unlikable jerk. These characters were real people rarely seen in these types of films and it let the viewer decide who to root for.
In the end, it was sort of a fool-proof solution. I've heard a friend whine about the ending "cause I hated the other character's face, I love the other character and his hair, wah-wah-wah" but to me, it didn't matter which one, Vincent or Neil, was going to win, since they both were like long lost brothers and unlikely soulmates. That bittersweet feeling in the end was inevitable, and I can't think of a more appropriate ending for this three-hour cat & mouse rollercoaster.

In addition, Heat's also the epitome of cool. Los Angeles at night looks unbelievable, the soundtrack in all its modern energy fits like a foot in your ass, the action scenes are intense, the actors are Hollywood's most charismatic... I know I said I don't necessarily like perfection, but this is as close as it gets to perfection in this list. In this instance, it's a REALLY good thing.
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Predator (1987)
Predator
directed by John McTiernan



Remember when only the Earth's toughest combat soldier with the most extreme sense of survival was able to stand up against THE PREDATOR? We've come a long way, but the original still stands strong.

I would be happy to say that Predator is a black comedy about the state of mankind. I would like to say it has a complex story and strong character development. Or that it's trying to solve the mystery of where we came from and why we are here.
It's not. It's an action-thriller. The kind of action-thriller I watched approximately eight times in a year. Being the geek that I am, I of course started planning my own Predator movie as well. Like that would ever happen.
But that's also the reason I'm one of the three people who actually liked 'Predators'.

As we all know, Arnold isn't the greatest of actors (he's only like in... Top 15, right?) but as a leader of an extremely lethal combat troop, he's at his finest. When no weaponry is available, he can make EXPLOSIVE ARROWS out of nothing, and you'll absolutely buy that. Then it's Arnie in CAVEMAN MODE against this ferocious beast.
And it is glorious.
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Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story
directed by John Lasseter



First of all, there's no real order with these two movie trilogies. I wouldn't want to live without one anyway.

To put it short, these movies are a reminder that I still have feelings.

I seriously don't know why but the moment when Buzz cuts the tapes tying him to the rocket and starts "falling with style" makes me sob, even though it's a victorious moment. I guess it's the closest to a cathartic experience I've ever had. In a positive fashion.
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Toy Story 2 (1999)
Toy Story 2
directed by John Lasseter



I saw Toy Story 2 when I was 9. I couldn't remember much afterwards. I was probably too young to fully appreciate it.
At age 15? Blew my mind. I "re-discovered" the first Toy Story a few years earlier and was secretively a fanboy all throughout junior high, and seeing Toy Story 2 at that point was the right time. I now understood the magnitude of both the crisis and the adventure the characters went through. It's crazy how touching some events in the life of a puny TOY can be. I don't know how these issues exactly apply to us humans - it's not like my owner ever left me on the side of the road - but they feel like real-life issues, and so do the joys of life, and that makes these characters, these TOYS, bigger than life.
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Toy Story 3 (2010)
Toy Story 3
directed by Lee Unkrich



This fucker...

I am a ROCK FACE. Let me clear that out though: that's not a cheap way of telling how tough guy I am, no. I'm as tough as a cushion. I just don't get teary eyed.

Toy Story 3 left me weeping like no movie. The moment was sad, naturally, but at the same time, I was happy to know I still have emotions.

At that moment, I knew this was going to get on my top list. I could say I didn't like the way it utilized a jailbreak plot we've seen a million times or some shit like that but... I'd be lying. This was like a missing piece of a puzzle that completed me.
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Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park
directed by Steven Spielberg



I wish I had an intelligent reasoning behind this but I don't. Sure, you can say how brilliantly Jurassic Park displays what happens when you play God or how it's like Alan Grant's journey of overcoming his fear of having children but I think we all know Jurassic Park kicks ass because it makes the kid inside everyone of us say: "FUCK. YEAH." over and over again. Like the concept of dinosaurs wasn't awesome enough, now they were walking in our time and fully realized with the help of then-new CGI technology. Hell, I still find it more appealing to look at than 80% of the shit they put out today!
I don't even care how implausible some of the twists can be sometimes or if the child actors are annoying, Jurassic Park is way too important for me to ignore.
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Star Wars
directed by George Lucas



It's hard to say something that hasn't already been said about Star Wars. Besides, I could never explain in words what these movies were like seeing them for the first time.
But let's try it this way: when I saw "Harry Potter and the Half-blooded Prince" or whatever it was where Dumbledore died I thought: "Whoa! Shit's getting real." It finally felt like an epic long-lasting battle between good & evil had started.
Another case was the end of the first season of X-Men: Evolution where people had to draw lines and choose sides. It was all very big and fateful. The odds started to look bad and you really rooted for the heroes.

The point is: I've, in a way, come across Star Wars many times in recent years in different movies and TV shows. With movie and TV-series such as the aforementioned I remember why I fell in love with tales from long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Except, put that to the power of 10, and you might get the idea how f*cking good the original three Star Wars feel like.
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The Empire Strikes Back
directed by Irvin Kershner



Again, there's no real order of favorite with these movies. Why would you want one and not the other?

Needless to say, the end was the biggest shock ever.
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Return of the Jedi
directed by Richard Marquand


That's a friggin fantastic sight.

The death of a certain character was one of the first times I ever cried during a movie.
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Aliens (1986)
Aliens
directed by James Cameron



Ok, let's get this straight: what happens in this movie?
No, really. It's 150 minutes long and the characters just mostly ponder and explain what they're gonna do in dark, indefinable interiors. Oh and there's xenomorph attacks here and there, but other than that, why would you like this based on what I just said?

I don't know, yet when I pop this movie in, my ass is nailed to the seat. It's indescribable. I think we all have movies that work just that way. Maybe the picture above can explain it?
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Dirty Harry (1971)
Dirty Harry
directed by Don Siegel



(I try putting this short, cause otherwise there would be no end to this...)

Dirty Harry is my Dark Knight. It's the same different-sides-of-the-coin relationship between the so called hero and villain. It's simpler in terms of plot and characters and on a small scale (don't expect Hans Zimmer music, folks) but the emotional response is all the more powerful. There is just something about the male icon of the post-John Wayne era walking down the streets of San Francisco catching bad guys, even if it sometimes means doing it with the aid of his .44 Magnum, that I can't explain.
But there's the other thing. Although it's incredibly satisfying to see Clint Eastwood kicking ass, it doesn't mean that you're automatically a pro-gun fascist. For me, it simply means that there must be major holes in the justice system when you can't keep a psychopath like Scorpio off the streets.

That's only one of the stirring issues boggling your mind after Dirty Harry.

At the same time, it's one of the most awesome cases of clashing titans. Even though the opponent is a skinny weasel like Andrew Robinson, it's the sick mind, as well as his Miranda rights, that makes him a brilliant adversary. The scene that'll always stuck with me is when Scorpio goes to Curtis Mayfield (!) and pays him in money (!!) to get his face bashed in (!!!) just so he can tell on TV that it was Harry Callahan who did this (!!!!). That's how far people are willing to go in this film.

In the end, I can honestly say that with all the John McClanes and Stallones around, with Harry Callahan justice never tasted sweeter.

And it's "Do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?" all you misquoting morons!
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RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop
directed by Paul Verhoeven



My history with Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi grossout masterpiece is a long and eventful one.

At age 10: saw RoboCop at my friends place. Couldn't let my friend see it, but I was shocked to my very core.

Six years later: just as my interest in movies had resuscitated, I saw RoboCop again. At the time, I measured movies by the quantity and quality of their individual scenes. In other words, the more kills, awesome one-liners and other cool stuff there were, the better the movie was.
In that sense, RoboCop more than delivered.

A year later I started looking for critique toward society, human nature and all that crap. Of course, I found commentary in movies where there weren't, but in RoboCop, all I could think of was the "It's only a glitch. A temporary set back" line by Ronny Cox. Is there a more perfect example of how cheap life is in corporate business? A guy just died violently because of a malfunction of a PRODUCT they're about to put on the streets!

But the most awesome aspect of it still went unnoticed until just recently when I realized the human side of the film. I didn't know earlier why RoboCop took off his helmet in the third act or why his last word was "Murphy" instead of "RoboCop". As I realized that, I found that it tied in with the whole consumerism critique, as the most human person in this crime-ridden world is still the man who was gunned down and re-built as a robot to obey his manufacturer's every command. It's kinda beautiful when you think about it: people tried killing him and building a cyborg police officer, but something in him insisted on staying Murphy.

I can only wonder what the next step'll be.
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Rocky (1976)
Rocky
directed by John G. Avildsen



I remember being a 10-year-old and hearing this very simple, yet incredibly catchy tune on TV during commercials. I rushed over and saw a guy in a grey jumpsuit. It was Rocky. No, wait. It was "ROCKY! This week on 'Saturday Night Action!'" That sounds about right.

I had to see it, even if it meant seeing it on my tiny black & white TV. It was hardly an 'action film' but I didn't care. I couldn't watch it all the way though, but luckily my big sister recorded it.
After that, there was no turning back. I can't even count how many times I watched this and the sequels after school.

I fell madly in love with the humble ways of Rocky and ascetic looks of Philadelphia. Bill Conti's music complimented every single scene just perfectly. I also liked sports. Maybe not boxing, but sports. And naturally, it was grandioso seeing the underdog rise to the challenge.
Although, I never understood why the outcome of the match was what it was, and felt disappointed.
I also never guessed that I was watching one of the most ridiculed actors of our time. However, no one's dissing this. Stallone's performance is flawless, because (I think) it's hardly even a performance. He wrote the character and knew it inside-out. After six films and 30 years, he's become Rocky, and even if I am to lose what's left of my credibility, I say it's one of the most natural acting jobs ever. It's sorta like watching Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II or Brando in The Godfather. It starts feeling wrong seeing them any other way!

Then there's two million other things I could talk about all day.

And don't worry. I know now why the game ended like that :)
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Jaws (1975)
Jaws
directed by Steven Spielberg



There are days when I feel Toy Story does this thing better than any other film. There are days when I think Heat is definitely the best made movie of all time. There are days when Lethal Weapon feels like my personal favorite.
Eventually, however, it all goes back to Jaws, where the overall technical execution meets my personal taste in the most beautiful balance. If one side of it loses its edge over time, there's always something that doesn't seem to age. There's no movie I respect more. No movie I cherish more. No movie whose production and creating I've been more interested in. No movie I can thank more for lighting the sparkle of my interest in movies.

My father wouldn't let me watch R-rated movies as a kid but he had seen Jaws & apparently figured it was suitable for me.
Even though I was only 10 at the time and mainly understood the scary side of it, Jaws still created this mould in my head, even if only subconsciously, of the perfect movie: how to tell a story that keeps me on my toes, makes me care, gets me interested in the subject matter afterwards, and all around blows my balls off. It's nothing groundbreaking storywise: we've seen the town molested by a force of nature and its hero trying to convince everyone there's a danger. It's not a flawless movie in a logical sense: even Spielberg admits he took a few liberties from reality to get a bigger emotional response from audiences in certain scenes. I believe he even said something along the lines of "once you're invested in the movie, you'll believe anything I'll throw at you." Kinda cocky actually, but then again, had it followed reality too closely, it wouldn't have been the same.

That's when we get back to me not liking so called perfect movies. Does critical-proofness (is that a word?) mean it's going to make for a great movie-going experience? Not necessarily. Maybe the only perfection is imperfection.
And, for me, Jaws is as good as imperfection gets, and my all time favorite film.

Thanks for reading.
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YAY! The wordiest list of all time!

I don't know why it would interest anyone but here are my favorite movies. I do wanna explain a few things first though:

1. This list was constructed a good four years ago. They don't necessarily hold their place on the list every single day but they are the ones that stood the test of time (for me at least). A new movie rarely goes on the list, they're gonna have to sink in first. Some of these movies I haven't seen in years, so I'm not sure how they fair out in comparison with my newer favorites. So, keep in mind, a lot of my newer favorites are still on the lower spots but they do have a good chance of climbing up eventually.

2. NONE or very few of these movies are perfect. I don't care for movies that aren't corny every once in a while or don't have plot holes. I am aware of things why you would criticize this movie or that, but what matters to me, is how the movie is overall. These movies I can highly recommend, but first and foremost, they hit a personal home run.

3. Instead of the typical "great acting" and that, I'll try to provide a more personal explanation. It don't necessarily tell you about the movie or its content as much as it does about what it means to me and how it's affected me.

4. And finally, yes, these choices are unbelievably predictable, but hopefully there'll be a few surprises though.

Enough dilly-dally, on to the list.

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Comments

Posted: 4 years, 7 months ago at Nov 3 17:44
Okay, I lied already. On the #40 spot there should be Lethal Weapon. Or Juno, or Drive. It was easier to write a comment about Glengarry. Runners-up:

- Die Hard
- Face/Off
- The Fugitive
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit
...and the ones mentioned above.
Edit: 4 years, 7 months ago

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