I can be short and sweet on this topic; I don’t like musicals. There are some notable exceptions, but they usually border on not being a musical, but more a film with music. In light of that, my favourite “musical” has to be The Blues Brothers. In the words of Crazy Elf; this post is over.
For every article and category in the 30 Day Movie Challenge, I’ve been helping myself by reading the best/worst lists that iMDB compiles on each genre. Just to get a feel for which films fall into that category and to make sure I haven’t overlooked any really good films. (I’ve seen quite a few and my memory isn’t so great.) Based on the list for Thrillers, I should be picking The Godfather, but I don’t consider that a thriller, so I won’t. Pulp Fiction? Nah. Inception? Very, very good so possibly. The Dark Knight wasn’t much of a thriller. Neither was Fight Club or Goodfellas. Most of these films resist being pigeonholed into one genre and the first real thriller on that list is Psycho, which I haven’t taken the time to watch yet.
The film on that list that I’ve seen that comes closest to being a thriller is Black Swan, which I thought was absolutely amazing. There’s a good chance I might be overlooking a few top notch, classical thrillers out there at the moment, but this is the most recent film that I’ve seen that a) I consider an actual thriller and b) I was amazed by to the point where it remained on my mind for a long time afterwards. The subject matter is just so disturbing, especially when you start seeing the mother/daughter sexual abuse theme. It was incredibly well played — to the point that I got genuinely annoyed at Natalie Portman’s character — and visually incredibly solid. The suspence was properly built up and the foreshadowing was subtle yet impactful. All in all I thought this was a truly amazing film.
This is one of the few categories I didn’t have to think too long or too hard about. Ghost in the Shell is an amazing anime that features a great, sophisticated storyline, an atmospheric and immersive visual style and good voice acting. It deals with existential and mature subjects and isn’t afflicted too much by the obsession that a lot of Japanese anime artists seem to have for juxtaposing the cute with the hyper-violent. Both Kusanagi and Batou, arguably the story’s main characters are rich, three dimensional and well thought out, and the antagonist is not your run of the mill opponent either, both the Laughing Man and The Puppet Master. GitS was the second anime I really loved, after Akira, which was the only other anime that could come close to getting the title Favourite Animated Feature. It also spawned several spin-offs, all of which had a high level of quality, though none had the impact on me that GitS had, probably because it changed something inside of me forever.
Since GitS and Akira there have been a few others of note, but none as good as either of these, nor as fundamental and impactful to animated films.
I remember when I first watched Akira with my cousin. It must have been 1990 or so and we had rented it from the local video store back when renting was still the thing to do. I ended up not being able to watch it for whatever reason, but my cousin did and informed me that I really had to make some time for it. I picked it up and watched it three times that very weekend before returning it to my cousin so he could return it to the video store. It was so amazing, so special and so not like the Disney crap I had expected to watch simply because it was an animated film. Sure, I’d watched Robotech and whatnot, but all feature animations were always that honey-sweet Disney shit. So I was pretty much hooked and I started watching all kinds of anime, mostly Manga. Most of it was pretty bad, but I liked the edge and grit it seemed to have over western cartoons. And then when I just thought I was done with anime, just when I thought that Akira was lightning in a bottle, Ghost in the Shell hit and sent me into the stratosphere. I’m still waiting for another to come along and do that again. :)
There are many different films that could be qualified as horror films that have scared the crap out of me. When I was younger, before I was a teenager, Fright Night and Salem’s Lot really did it. The Exorcist and Pet Cemetery scared me when I just hit my teens, and later I remember being very disturbed by Event Horizon, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and the likes of Japanese horror films like Audition. From the time of Fright Night to now the fright I felt has changed. When I was young I was frightened at what they showed me, now I’m scared of what they don’t. They say imagination starts hyperactive and gets duller and duller as you grow older, but with me it seems to have worked the other way around. I don’t need much nowadays to let my imagination run rampant with it and take me into the deep waters of dread.
One of the best examples of showing little and therefor scaring me more was The Blair Witch Project, in which three people get lost in the woods of Maryland while they’re researching the legend of the Witch of Burkittsville. The films doesn’t show anything overly frightening, but it leaves a lot to the imagination. A lot. This is the reason why I really like this horror film, much more than the overly gory films that have come to dominate the horror genre.
This is the fifth day of the 30 Day Movie Challenge and I’m starting to notice a trend; I don’t know how to categorise films very well. I don’t know what constitutes a drama or a horror or a thriller and I certainly don’t know what falls within the boundaries of an action film. The easiest ones that come to mind are Predator, Aliens and Terminator, thought the last could also be classified as a sci-fi. But then, does Heat fall in that category? Sure, there’s a lot of action in that film, but to classify it as such does the film a disservice, I feel. I deeply appreciate the Bourne films, but again I think their depth goes beyond the classification of an action film. And then there are films like Platoon and Apocalypse Now, which certainly transcend the simplicity of an action film.
So I’ll go for Predator, a film I already gave quite a long-winded review for.