Memes. I have a love/hate relationship with memes. When I’m tagged, I kind of cringe a bit, initially, because I’m not sure what is entailed in any given meme. Some I skip; others I dive into head first because they are actually meaningful. I was just tagged for a meme, but luckily it is a good one! I am a huge move and DVD fanatic. My wife and I love collecting DVDs. Some day we will have a ridiculously over-sized home theater in which we will comfortably watch all of the movies we have collected over the years with our children and then with their children. Yeah, there will be an old fashioned popcorn machine in there too! We do love our movies!
At any rate, the rules of this particular meme are: 1. List your top ten favorite films (in no particular order). 2. If you are tagged, you have to post and tag 3-5 people. 3. Link back to the one who tagged you. 4. Tip the hat to Dan.
That said, here is my list of my top ten favorite movies of all time:
The Motorcycle Diaries
Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his college friend Alberto Granado launch out into Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela on a beat up old motorcycle in the 1950’s. Their lives are radically changed as they encounter poverty, disease, and oppression. Guevara’s life is changed forever as a result of their adventure. Che becomes the leader of the Cuban revolution.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a movie that reminds all of the inherent truth in the aphorism “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!” Joel Barish lives in a day wherein you can selectively erase portions of your personal memory. The portions marked for erasure are the most uncomfortable memories, of course. When Joel’s girlfriend chooses to erase him from her memory, he reacts by erasing her from his memory to avoid the pain. Unfortunately, he realizes he still loves her and regrets having the procedure done as memories of her begin to disappear. Basically, the movie is about trying to undo that which was initially considered beneficial. Life is good, even the uncomfortable aspects.
Lost in Translation
Scarlett Johansson. I admit it; I absolutely love Scarlett Johansson. She’s awesome. Lost in Translation is rich with plot lines. A washed up American actor and a woman who is supporting her husband and searching for meaning discover one another in a foreign land and culture. They befriend one another in journey and discover that their mismatched companionship is founded upon deep and different personal need. Yet, that companionship too must come to an end sooner or later. It’s a great movie. And Scarlett Johansson is in it too. Did I mention that little fact?
Scarlett Johansson, again. I’m usually not a huge fan of Science Fiction flicks, but this one is really well done. And Scarlett Johansson is in it. This movie raises all sorts of relevant religious and ethical questions that are not at all far-fetched, given the day in which we all are living. Should clones be manufactured for the sole purpose of spare parts (e.g., organs, blood, body parts)? Are clones human beings? Should they be created for personal insurance reasons? The Island is a dive into all of these questions. Plus, Scarlett Johansson is in it.
21 grams is another movie filled with plot lines. These plot lines, however, converge around a series of events that culminate in one accident that touches all involved and consequently connects their lives. Sin, Fall, and the cry for Redemption make this move great. It’s real and raw. The everyone loses 21 grams of weight when they die is a great supernatural marker pointing to the soul within each of us.
Life of Brian
OK. Lest anyone get their britches in a bundle over my listing of this movie, let me just say, “Take it for what it is!” It’s Monty Python! The “I Want to be a Woman” coliseum scene is classic, and reminds me of the time we are all living in right now! Remember, this movie was made in 1979! “Don’t you oppress me!” Classic! Any serious student of the New Testament should have a copy of The Life of Brian in their library! Yes, I said it!
The Passion of the Christ
This movie did not make my top ten list just to offset the funny that is The life of Brian. This movie is actually incredible. It is so well done. Mel Gibson’s Passion is the best Hollywood interpretation of the last days of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, period. Yes, it is beyond gruesome, but so was Roman crucifixion. Too, there is a very prevalent reliance upon the Christus Victor motif of atonement buried in this film. Look closely; you will see it. Mel Gibson was the recipient of plenty of criticism for what was perceived as an anti-Semitic interpretation of the events in Christ’s passion, but a keen eye will spot the presence and the relentless push of Satan to destroy Christ throughout the movie (especially in the Garden scene). The horrible orchestrator of events in this film was Satan. The cataclysmic battle between God’s good and Satan’s evil is obvious in The Passion of the Christ.
The Last Temptation of Christ
Reactionary Christians the globe over came out in droves against Martin Scorsese and The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988. Why? Who knows? The reaction probably emanated from the unfortunate fact that Christians have for so long failed to understand the genre of film and/or literature. It’s about story. This story was built upon the idea of the last great temptation Jesus endured as a humble and sacrificial Messiah. The key word being “temptation.” While on the cross, the film suggests, Jesus was tempted to come down and save himself and take all that he deserved in life (e.g., a wife, a family, a house, a quite life in the hills). Was Jesus tempted in such a manner? Well, scripture is silent on the issue, but it’s not at all a stretch to believe he was tempted in such a manner. The last Temptation of Christ is a movie about such temptation. It begins with Jesus on the cross and ends with Jesus on the cross. The body of the film is about the temptation Jesus endured while he was nailed to the cross. How Christians missed this major plot point is beyond understanding. The scene when Jesus defends the woman caught in adultery is classic. In this scene, Jesus is interpreted realistically as the one who does not dive into situations with a premeditated speech or plan, but instead relies completely upon the Holy Spirit to give him the Word to be spoken into the situation. Often, we read the complete story back onto the text, instead of allowing the characters in the story to develop and speak in their own real-time. Scorsese allowed the characters to develop naturally and brilliantly.
Life as a House
A broken family begins to heal relationally when the father (George) is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The family healing is not instantaneous, thankfully. It occurs over a period of time, and as the sick father and his angst-laden, prostitute son (Sam) work together to rebuild a house George inherited from his alcoholic and abusive father. This film is all about redemption. In the end, George dies, and Sam gives the house to a woman who was crippled by George’s drunk father. This film is more inspiring than the majority of church services I have attended in my life.
Wonder Boys is the film adaptation of the Michael Chabon novel. It’s a great, great story! It also features Toby Maguire pre-Spiderman fame. I actually prefer the pre-Spiderman Maguire. He is a far better actor than Spiderman allows him to be. Wonder Boys is set in Pittsburgh. It’s a story about the relational interaction and messy lives of a professor/writer (Grady Tripp) and one of his best but seriously strange students (James Leer). It’s a story about life, and it’s messy. It’s also a joy to watch. Wonder Boys is a great book and a great movie.