My 10 Desert Island Films
This is a stereotypical conversation starter for pseudo-intellectual dinner parties. I'm sure you've answered it before, but I'm also sure you didn't quite make it to 10. What are the 10 movies you would bring along to a desert island that's mysteriously equipped with electricity, television and a DVD player? I've given that silly hypothetical question much more thought than I should've and came up with a rather precise answer. Here are my top 10 desert island movies. I invite you to judge me and share your own selection, whether it's in the comment section here, on Facebook or in your own blog post.
No Country for Old Men (2007) : This is a perfect movie. Not in the "cinema's greatest triumph" sense of the term, but it's a film that maximized its potential. It feels as visually and morally fulfilling every time I watch it. There are lots of boring discussions about what noir is online, but No Country for Old Men is exactly it for me: bleak, suffocating, hyperviolent and yet oddly hopeful.
Session 9 (2001) : My favorite horror movie and perhaps one of the most satisfying hidden treasures in recent cinema history. I don't scare easily, but Session 9 got the job done every time I've watched it. It's a deceptively complicated movies that unfolds new terrifying intricacies with every viewing. It also understands something vital to great horror writing: every monster is born in the human mind.
Lessons of Darkness (1992) : My favorite Werner Herzog movie and perhaps my favorite documentary ever made. If you can call it a documentary anyway. But it does operate on documentary footage. Lessons of Darkness is a testament to the power of suggestion on the human mind and a major display of the potency and purpose of storytelling. It's one of these movies that's unsettling because it's real and because it isn't.
Vital (2004) : Perhaps my favorite love story ever filmed? Shinya Tsukamoto is a brutal motherfucker and Vital is, in my humble opinion, his most inspired and cohesive effort. Love is traditionally associated with fluffy and manipulative movies and Tsukamoto's Gothic deconstruction of the most powerful feeling in human existence is a challenging, yet incredibly beautiful and rewarding experience.
Fight Club (1999) : Boring answer, I know. No single narrative had more importance in my existence than Fight Club. It literally changed my life and opened my perception on a various array of subject going from acquiring life principles to surviving in an increasingly manipulative economy. I must've watched it 40 or 50 times and I've never been bored with it.
Dead Man (1995) : I'm a huge Jim Jarmusch fan and Dead Man is my favorite movie of his. It also is the only Johnny Depp movie south of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that doesn't make me want to punch him in the face. There's something very tender and loving about Jarmusch's deconstruction of the Western myths in Dead Man, particularly the American outlaw. It's also a great insomnia movie because of its lulling rhythm.
The Big Lebowski (1998) : The Coen brothers again. I am pretty sure I saw this movie over a hundred time. I used to let it run in the background when I was writing paper in college. If I play it today, I can still knock every dialogue line by heart. There's an efficiency to this screenplay I don't fully comprehend yet. It created an entire paradigm and a subculture. It's hilarious yet I don't think it made me laugh out loud ever.
Drive (2011) : One of the greatest sensory experience I've had in a theater. That movie assaulted my nervous system like nothing I'd ever experienced before and carved some of my favorite moviegoing memories. Drive is brutal, unflinching, beautiful and original. Director Nicolas Winding Refn is a creative force and Drive is a labor of love. Everything in that movie is perfectly rendered, from the haunting murder scenes to the loving and caressing way Refn filmed lead actress Carey Mulligan's beauty.
Blue Velvet (1986) : I love David Lynch (just like any other creative-minded human being on the planet, I suppose) and Blue Velvet is, I believe, his greatest accomplishment. It's very much a surreal folktale, but the desire to expose Norman Rockwell's America (which was surging back under Ronald Reagan in 1986) is very real. Blue Velvet is unpredictable, funny, terrifying and reveals itself to you with every viewing.
In the Mood for Love (2000) : The great majority of love movies are really about desire and this is the best movie about desire that I've ever seen. Ever had this forbidden, unfulfilled teenage love? I did and Wong Kar-Wai is the only filmmaker that captured the dull thud torn passions on film adequately. In the Mood for Love is gorgeous, groovy and will make you feel like you're 15 years old again.