Thursday, June 9, 2011

Movies That Inspired Me

Two nights ago, I watched a three-part series of videos on You Tube from an "Ebert Presents: At the Movies" special, featuring film critics Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky. They discussed films that inspired them to be the critics they are today. Likewise, I've decided to spend this time presenting a list of a few specific movies that have had an impact on my life, for various reasons. There are so many I could mention, but I'll start with these. They also remind me why I love movies, especially stories and characters that really mean something. So, here goes:

Forrest Gump (1994)
An inspiring film for me, because of how its main character goes on to do so many extraordinary things in his life, despite others' initial perspectives and doubts, and despite his condition.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
A great story--well-written and superbly-acted--that generates spiritual discussion (whether intentional or not) and carries an ultimately redemptive message.

Fantasia (1940)
A classic example of the power and use of music and images to tell a great story or idea. Other great examples: Rear Window (1954), Chelovek's kino-apparatom (Man with a Movie Camera) (1929).

Ratatouille (2007)
The first animated film I wholly appreciated as an adult, and furthermore, indicated that the medium wasn't something just for kids. It also parallels the Disney legacy, using food as a fantastic illustration. ("If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.")

The Breakfast Club (1985)
Arguably John Hughes's best film. Assembles various clique representatives in a seemless experience full of comedy, raw emotion, angst, and teenage perception. Also one of the best ensemble casts and well-written scripts in film history.

Up (2009)
An extension of my thoughts on Ratatouille. Pixar hit a peak with this instant classic, proving that they can not only do just about anything, but that they can make something meaningful out of the even the most odd collection of characters, situations, and things. Whoever thought that an old man, a cub scout, a bird, and a dog could make such a movie work? And, Michael Giacchino's score is perfect. My favorite animated movie, for the record.

Chariots of Fire (1981)
A film that is powerful and resonant without being preachy (even though it has a couple scenes where a main character evangelizes). A brilliant and poignant character study of motivations, dilemmas, and victory. My favorite film of all-time.

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