I was coming in from New York last week with two of my co-workers when, unfortunately, the train we were on lost all electricity. We slowly glided into a small outdoor station somewhere in the middle of the Connecticut coastline and we had several hours to kill. So, what did we do? We decided to look at all these top movie lists – Top 100 Movies of All Time, Top 250 Movies, 100 Year List, and so on.
All the classics were up there like Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind. And those are all fine, I mean, they are great cinematic period pieces that will forever be loved and admired. There were other ones like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark. And those are also very fine movies too! But I have a top 5 list of movies that I absolutely love. You might say that at the time I watched these following films I was either going through a certain phase, maybe feeling nostalgic, or just liked the story line, but I’ll explain my love for each of these movies and hopefully you’ll understand why they are my top 5. My co-workers did not agree with all of these films.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
1. Big Trouble in Little China
This movie is awesomeness wrapped up in 1 hour and 39 minutes
It starts with a truck driver named Jack Burton (good ole Jack Burton always says….) who is in San Francisco with his big rig. He’s playing dominoes (or the Chinese version of it) with a friend (Wang) of his who ends up losing and owing Jack a lot of money. But the friend has to pick up his fiancee at the airport and Jack, not trusting his friend, decides to go with him. Then chaos ensues.
It’s a great story about mystery, intrigue, black magic, good magic, good vs. evil, love, romance, and adventure.
After Jack’s friend’s fiancee gets kidnapped at the airport by some hard looking (geeky looking) Asian gang member thugs, Jack and his friend run all over San Fran’s Chinatown looking for her.
They end up face to face with Lo Pan (that scary looking character above) and basically have a good vs. evil showdown with him, but in the end… SPOILER ALERT …they end up kicking his ass, getting the girls (there’s another one that comes into the picture) and surviving the mean streets (and underground) of Chinatown. In short, this movie is amazing.
It’s a combination of the great one-liners Kurt Russell’s character (Jack Burton) says, the seedy streets of San Francisco, and the fact that good over powers the evil (and unbeatable-but-actually-beatable) Lo Pan is just great. There’s also a scene where one of Lo Pan’s foot soldiers (aka one of the Three Storms) gets soooo angry, his head actually explodes, it’s awesome!
Two thumbs up, I’d give it three if I could!
2. The Goonies
Hey youu-ooh, guy-eyess!! Sloth was the man, Chunk was the man, Data was the man, Mouth – the man! Mikey and company brought us on a spectacular journey filled with pirate fights and adventurous nights. Hands down one of the best PG movies of all time, The Goonies had it all.
Mikey is an asthmatic kid who uses his inhaler all the time and can’t speak the right words (“I’m dictating myself…..You mean, dilute yourself, dummy. Yeah, that’s what I said”), but this was one hell of a cinematic experience. The Fratellis are a family of criminals and they own a small restaurant on the coast in a town called Astoria (maybe somewhere in Oregon). Mikey and his older brother, Brand, along with all of Mikey’s sidekicks (see above) are messing around in their attic when they find a treasure map. Mikey and friends tie Brand up while he’s working out (exercising) and take off in search of buried treasure.
The Fratellis come in when the kids find their restaurant as the starting point for their adventure. In the basement they also find something else – Sloth, the horribly disfigured mammoth with a heart of gold! Yes sir, it’s a movie for all ages and all kinds! But the kids go on the hunt and they are also running away from the Fratellis, they need to find the treasure to save their neighborhood from being turned into a golf course and escape the clutches of the evil Fratelli family!
My love for this movie is twofold. One, it reminds me of my childhood. I used to play in the woods next to my house and I was always looking for adventures and buried treasure. Two, it’s a super feel good movie. It’s suspenseful, but it ends up just fine. People get what they deserve in this film and it’s just such a happy movie to watch. Well done Richard Donner, well done, sir!
3. The Last of the Mohicans
More on the dramatic side than the humorous, The Last of the Mohicans is a story about Nathaniel (aka Hawkeye) who’s the adopted son of Chingachgook, a Mohican Indian. Along with his son, Uncas, the trio roam the countryside hunting for food and living off the land. They are real men, with real survival skills, and they can fight!
But this movie is set around the French-Indian war of the 1750’s, and Hawkeye along with his adopted family get tangled up in Britain occupied New York, where the French were trying to reign in on the Brits’ territory (or tear-eh-tree, said really fast).
What I can say about this movie is that Daniel Day-Lewis is phenomenal as Hawkeye, he gives an awesome portrayal of a man torn between his love for this new woman in his life and his life as a frontiersman (and also someone who doesn’t get involved with wars, especially other’s). As the story progresses, we realize that the trio has a huge bond between them, but Hawkeye finds true love with a colonel’s daughter and that women gets taken by bad Indians, the Mohawks – the mortal enemy of the Mohicans (I’m not sure if that last part is true). The Mohawks take the kidnapped girls (the one that Hawkeye fell in love with and her sister – who Uncas ends up falling for), and brings them to the sachem. The sachem is a very wise tribal member and tells the Mohawks what to do with the girls. Needless to say, Hawkeye and his band of brothers is not a fan of the outcome and goes out to rescue one sister.
There is this awesome fight scene with Magwa (a Mohawk Indian leader) killing Uncas. Chingachgook gives a serious ass-whooping and kills Magwa ever so splendidly. But not before one sister jumps off a cliff to her death. It’s a super sad movie, but well worth the watch if you have not seen it!
I like this movie for a few different reasons. One is the cinematography, it’s awesome, these sweeping shots of the Black Mountains (I believe it was filmed in North Carolina, but I could be wrong), the cool forest shots and lake scenes. Two, is the music! This movies has got one of the awesomest scores I’ve ever heard. It’s theme music is really cool to listen to – violin and then symphony!! Three, is the chase scene when Hawkeye is running up the face of a steep rock – it’s just a really cool scene and any time I’m in the woods I look for a rock like this and run up it humming the theme song.
4. The Crow
Now this was a cool movie. Granted, it may have been better had Brandon Lee not been killed while filming this movie, but none-the-less, it was still superb! But the fact that he died was kind of odd because the movie is about a guy who dies then comes back to life as a crow. Hence, The Crow. Now, what made this movie really good are a few key scenes, they are pretty much all the revenge scenes.
To give you a little back story, Eric Draven (Brandon Lee’s character) was engaged to his very beautiful fiancee, but because they lived in an almost condemned apartment building and complained to management, they got “taught a lesson” by some Detroit thugs. “Does it get you sweaty” said by T-Bird, the leader of the gang, who rapes and beats Eric’s fiancee and kills Eric by throwing him out a window. This sets the scene for Eric Draven’s awesome revenge scenes.
AGAIN, SPOILER ALERT …The first to go is Tin-tin, a knife wielding maniac, who has a knife fight with Eric and comes out on the losing end, big time! “He put his knife’s in all his major organs in alphabetical order, man” another line said by T-Bird. Then comes Funboy, and Funboy likes to play with needles. Draven shoots him full of morphine and all Funboy can say as he slowly dies is “stop, you’re wasting it.” – Seriously!?! Then comes the best scene of all with the revenge on T-Bird. There’s a nice long intro to T-Bird flying off a dock into Lake Michigan in his T-Bird car. There’s a point where he realizes who Draven is and his acting is pure genius. “No, man, it’s you. It can’t be you. We put you threw a window, man. This is the really real world. There ain’t no coming back. THERE AIN’T NO COMING BACK. Abash the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is. How awful goodness is.” Check out this awesome seen here on YouTube. And then Eric lights the sketch of a crow on fire!!
I would have to say that I would watch this movie over and over again for this one scene, it’s that fantastic!
5. The Shawshank Redemption
And last, but certainly not least – The Shawshank Redemption. Originally, a short story by Stephen King called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, because Andy Dufrane used Rita as his coverup to a long tunnel through the prison. This movie starts off with a falsely convicted man who ends up in prison being accused of murdering his wife and her lover. He did not do it, he was going to do it, but decided not to. He goes to prison and doesn’t make friends right away. The prison guards are tough, the warden is even tougher, not to mention “the sisters”, but Andy manages to find a friend in Red, one of the wise ones of the prison and a guy who knows how to get things.
This is a story of redemption, obviously! But it’s also the story of one man’s struggle to make it and survive in an unlikely place and one that he never should have been privy to. It’s got some great scenes from Andy getting 3 beers a piece for everyone tarring the hot roof of a new prison building, to Andy getting a month in the hole for playing an Italian opera on the loud speaker to everyone in the yard. It’s a story of friendship and perseverance, survival and hope, and finally escape and peace!
I could sit and watch this movie over and over again too just for that one scene at the end where we realize he’s not dead in his cell, but that’s he’s actually escaped! I remember the feeling of adrenaline I had when the warden’s finger went through that poster of Rita Hayworth and he ripped it down with the pull of his arm. Thus exposing the tunnel and the secret Andy had been keeping from his prison buddies. A great feeling of pride and relief swept over me when I saw that scene.
Then the end of this movie made it the perfect ending. Red skips out on bail, finds a tin can in a hayfield and takes a bus to Mexico where he finds Andy working on a boat. I imagine the two best buds living out their glory days on the Pacific ocean and it’s magnificent! “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
There were many films I did not include in this list but will say their names briefly. Glengarry Glen Ross, Goodfellas, PeeWee’s Big Adventure, In the Name of the Father, The Neverending Story, Office Space, The Town, Flatliners, Young Guns I & II, Real Genius, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, L.A. Confidential, Aliens, The Matrix, Carlito’s Way, Groundhog Day, man, I could go on and on!
I LOVE MOVIES!!
I hope you enjoyed the breakdown of my top 5 movies list, feel free to give me a shout and let me know if there is anything I missed!!