Even as an adult, I have a weakness for teen movies, with a crush on Molly Ringwald for many years. “Pretty in Pink,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Sixteen Candles” are my favorites. I’m well past that phase now, except for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Breakfast Club.”
My top fave prison drama is “The Shawshank Redemption.” It speaks to me. My top adventure drama? “Lawrence Of Arabia” would not be the classic without Peter O’Tool’s typical magnificent performance. I do love that movie. For flawless acting in a challenging role? Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump,” though I’ve talked to a number of people who really didn’t care for it. I have only watched it over five times.
How long does it take to cook your grits? I find “My Cousin Vinny” absolutely hilarious! Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei are perfectly cast. Another is “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. ”Three drag queens take a road trip, played by Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo. Unbelievably funny.
Wartime dramas? “Tora! Tora! Tora!” depicts the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 from the Japanese viewpoint. “We Were Soldiers” is a good watch, based on the book by Lt. Colonel Hal Moore, a Vietnam War commander. Another portrayal of an intense but accurate picture of a lesser-known event is “Battle of Chosin Reservoir.” “Empire Of The Sun?” It tells the story of Jamie Graham, a boy living an ideal existence with his wealthy British family in Shanghai, only to become a prisoner of war, interred in a Japanese camp during World War II. It is my wife’s favorite movie of all time. The boy, depicted by a young Christian Bale, is very moving.
Ah, Westerns! In the Australian tale “Quigley Down Under,” Tom Selleck is brought from America to work for a rancher (Alan Rickman) with a supposed “dingo problem.” The uplifting music and broad scenery are awesome. “Unforgiven” with Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman is a grittier take on the classic Western.
“Grand Canyon,” with Danny Glover and Kevin Kline, explores race, class relations, and personal responsibility in a compassionate, feel-good movie with unusual twists that are sure to make one look at one’s own part in humanity.
“The Professional” is described as a French action/thriller film, but it is much more. The relationship between Leon (Jean Reno) and Mathilda Lando (young Natalie Portman) makes the film exceptional.
“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” In “The Princess Bride,” Wesley and Princess Buttercup’s long journey toward marital bliss is a wild and woolly adventure. Funny, imaginative, and lively, it has become a cult classic. Memorable lines fans quote include, “Have fun storming the castle, boys!” “As you wish!” or “Inconceivable!” Anyone who loves tongue-in-cheek fantasy should give it a watch.
Clint Eastwood produced, directed, and stars in “Gran Torino,” a powerful story of a crotchety, old, prejudiced veteran who befriended a neighborhood Hmong teenager. It is one of his finest films unless edged out by “Million Dollar Baby” with Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hilary Swank. It’s a touching tale, with Clint portraying a crotchety old trainer, reluctantly teaching Swank to compete in the women’s boxing league.
Steel Magnolias, 1989, keeps prompting me to add it to the list, as right they should. An all-star female cast including Dolly Parton, Sally Fields, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia, Julia Roberts, and Daryl Hannah. Let’s not forget the men, Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, Dylan McDermott, and Kevin O’Connor. Holy smoke. If those folks can’t make a superb movie, no one can. I have probably watched it five times.
I guess before I stop, I should mention “Doctor Zhivago” – appropriate as I look across my snow-covered lawn. It’s an impressive film exploring the resilience of the human soul and its capacity for love in a sweeping, beautiful landscape. It was banned in the Soviet Union for decades. That alone is a good reason to watch it.
As Porky the Pig says: “That’s all folks!