Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Life In Movies

So Andy over at Fandango Groovers had another awesome idea for a blogathon, known as "A Life in Movies". I'm going to take one movie for each year I've managed to survive Earth's deadly atmosphere! So, for anyone who hasn't been paying attention, that's 23 movies. It won't necessarily be my favorite movie from each year, mostly just random ones I'm picking after looking at lists of movie releases. I'll try to encompass my many passions and genre tendencies, though sadly my favorite classics will be left out!

1988 Akira
This movie is so badass and so mind-blowing, it's hard not to just stand with mouth agape while simultaneously trying to shout WHAT THE FUCK every few minutes. The plan for a live-action American remake somehow gets stupider by the minute.

1989 Heathers
Says 1988 on imdb, but was released in the US in 1989 so that's where I'm putting it. This represents my love of womencentric teen comedies and sarcastic leading ladies. Also my love of early 90's fashion/slang and Winona Ryder in general.

1990 Trust
I basically love everything Hal Hartley, and this was the first of his films I ever saw. It's also where I fell in love with Adrienne Shelley (and to a lesser extent, Martin Donovan). The stagey dialogue, gorgeous string-heavy score, visual symbolism- it's all here and it's all fantastic.

1991 Beauty and the Beast
Well I wrote about this one fairly recently so it seemed appropriate. My favorite movie as a kid and still the best Disney film in my opinion. Belle is one of my heroes, and the music and art still stick with me. My art for this film.

1992 Universal Soldier
Dude. Dolph Lundgren wears a necklace of human ears in this movie. And Jean-Claude Van Damme hangs out naked in a tub of ice. It is amazing.

1993 The Nightmare Before Christmas
Between the gorgeous stop-motion animation, twisted visual design, catchy-as-hell tunes, and Tim Burtony tale, I've always been pretty in love with this movie. I listen to the "Kidnap the Sandy Claws" song more often than anyone should. My art for it.

1994 Serial Mom
I've been thinking about this movie recently, not sure why. Definitely up for a rewatch, as it is hilarious and weird and perfectly John Waters-y in its skewering of suburban housewifery.

1995 Mallrats
I could easily have gone on about Clueless here but I feel like I talk about it all the time. Instead I have Kevin Smith's ode to consumerism, reality shows, the Force, and Stan Lee, which I remember seeing for the first time at a friend's house when I was maybe 9 or 10. Her parents were far less strict than mine when it came to programming content. This movie taught me about third nipples and stinkpalms and all manner of useful information.

1996 Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie
Yay! One of my favorite tv shows, I recall watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000 as a kid when it ran on SciFi Channel. My dad would always have it on on weekend mornings, but he always changed the channel at the sketches in between so I didn't come to truly appreciate the show until years later. The movie features fun 50's sci-fi drama This Island Earth, and features one of my favorite-ever jokes.

1997 The Wrong Guy
I love Kids in the Hall. I love Dave Foley. I love ridiculous, goofy, nonsensical comedy. This movie has it all, really, plus I think it's the first dvd I ever bought online (it was only available as an import from Canada).

1998 BASEketball
What does it say about me that I went with this over critically acclaimed German thriller Run Lola Run? Um, clearly that my priorities are perfectly in place. I find Trey Parker and Matt Stone hilarious, and this movie gleefully reaches into every stupid, juvenile facet of my being.

1999 The Mummy
I know 1999 has a shit ton of excellent and/or significant films. And sure, I dig Being John Malkovich and Toy Story 2 and All About My Mother and The Matrix. And I saw Phantom Menace a bunch of times when it came out. But fuck it, I love The Mummy. It's so good, you guys. So good.

2000 The Emperor's New Groove
Ok, ok. I don't know why but I feel the need to talk about this movie right now. Because I loved it when it came out, and used to watch it all the time at my grandma's house, and thought it got better and better with each viewing. I don't know. It's just funny! And it's got Patrick Warburton!

2001 Amelie
We just started selling the soundtrack at my work so I've had it on my mind lately as we listen to it over and over again. It gives me the warm fuzzies, I tell ya, and I also have always found it creatively motivating. I often feel like making something pretty after watching this movie.

2002 Undercover Brother
This was my first taste of exploitation parody, and while I remember thinking it looked stupid at first, I quickly warmed to its general silliness, awesome cast, and kickin' soundtrack. Including Michael Bolton's version of "The Thong Song".

2003 X2: X-Men United
I love X-Men, you guys. I seriously do. And while the release of the first film opened up all kinds of new ground for me by actually being my introduction to the franchise (I got into the comics immediately following- backwards, I know), the second film is pretty great itself. It's got Nightcrawler, one of my absolute favorite characters, plus Lady Deathstryke and Pyro and Magneto's cool plastic prison. And Jean Grey dies, sort of! Awesome! Also, spoiler oops.

2004 Kamikaze Girls
You may have heard me going on about how great this movie is on that amazing podcast episode. It's a funny, offbeat, heartwarming, gorgeously costumed story with a truly lovely friendship at its center and nice attention to the Rococo lifestyle. I could watch it over and over again and always get the same level of enjoyment.

2005 The Brothers Grimm
Yeah I could easily go with Gilliam's remarkable Southern fable Tideland, but instead I'm pimping The Brothers Grimm from the same year. It's severely under-appreciated but I find it strange and dark and funny, with memorable imagery and a strong cast. Plus: Fake-French Jonathan Pryce! Love him!

2006 Paprika
I'm fairly certain Satoshi Kon was some sort of genius and I'm still really saddened by his death. Paprika is a fantastic, highly imaginative anime with superb animation and music. It set the stage for movies like Inception, and the soundtrack is all kinds of kickin'.

2007 Planet Terror
We all know I'm a sucker for a sexy lady with a modified limb. Also for a good zombie movie. And also for Robert Rodriguez. I think Planet Terror is a near-perfect movie, completely entertaining and exciting and stylish and fun. And of course the whole Grindhouse experience just makes me smile ear-to-ear.

2008 Sita Sings The Blues
Experimental animation, musicals, lady filmmakers, recreations of interesting myths- this film has so many things I like! Director Nina Paley's tribute to her own divorce is informative, heartbreaking, and breathtaking in its visual scope as she combines cut-out silhouettes, Flash, squigglevision, and collage techniques to tell the story of the Ramayama.

2009 Thirst
Fuck yessssss this movie is fantastic. My first Park Chan-wook film, and indeed the catalyst for my newfound interest in Korean cinema in general, Thirst is a complex and horrific tale of a priest who becomes a vampire. It is beautifully shot and well-acted, with a wonderfully contorted plot. So good.

2010 Tucker & Dale vs Evil
Ok so I could easily go with Black Swan or Winter's Bone, but you've heard about those movies. Instead let's talk about how great horror-comedy Tucker & Dale vs Evil is, and how depressed we all are that it hasn't had a theater or dvd release in the US yet. It's so funny, you guys! Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk as well-meaning "hillbillies" who just want to renovate their cabin and wind up in the midst of an apparent suicide pact between asshole college students, whom they keep finding gruesomely mutilated in the woods. Hilarious. Check the trailer.

2011 Hanna
I think I'm only supposed to go to 2010, but since I did have my 2011 birthday already I figured I'd include it. Right now my favorite movie of the year is probably Hanna, closely followed by Jane Eyre. Both movies are about strong-willed young ladies with lonely childhoods who are betrayed by the main man in their lives. One of them kills a lot of people, the other thinks she sees ghosts. I'll let you determine which is which.

Anyway there it is. Now go check out everybody else's posts!


  1. Thanks for taking part, some great picks, some common ones and some unique ones too. I have to say I hate The Mummy! From this year I liked Hanna, but I didn’t love it, I don’t think it will be making it to my top ten of the year.

  2. God, let's hope that AKIRA remake never happens. Some sweet choices here - especially love the MALLRATS shoutout. Although I always prefered DEATH PROOF to PLANET TERROR (and GRINDHOUSE as a combined film faaaar more than either of the individual pictures)

  3. Really cool list, Alex. I'm working on my own now. I'm surprised (and kind of delighted) at The Brothers Grimm. I'm not the biggest fan of it, but I felt it got a bum rap. We've already discussed our mutual love of Beauty and the Beast (though I think I'm picking a different '91 film just to change things up).

  4. I like that you used foreign posters for English-language movies.

  5. I really, really need to see Akira. Fun list, I love the choices of Amelie and Planet Terror!

  6. Nice list. Very eclectic.
    I must say that I left Grindhouse loving Planet Terror but have to like Death Proof more after several viewings.

  7. Heathers, X2, Paprika, Sita... some very cool choices on this list. And Kon WAS an absolute genius & a huge loss.

    Now I'm tempted to do one of these myself!

  8. Andy: Thank you so much for organizing another fun blogathon! And a lot of people hate The Mummy, but what can I say, I've loved it since it came out! And while I really enjoyed Hanna, I don't know where it will stand at the end of the year.

    Tom and Kai: Yeah I think a lot of people grew to love Death Proof after multiple viewings. I absolutely loved the entire Grindhouse experience, but Planet Terror is the half I watch over and over again.

    Jake: Brothers Grimm isn't my favorite Gilliam film by any stretch, but yeah it seems so unjustly loathed that I wanted to show it some support!

    Rich: Thanks! International movie posters are a passion of mine.

    Eric: See Akira already! It's great! Then you can join us all in confused outrage over the whitewashed US remake.

    Andreas: Thanks! God I'm still in some shock about Kon's death. And yes do one yourself, I'd love to see it!

  9. Love the list! I have added some of them to my to-watch pile.

  10. "Heathers" and "Serial Mom" and "Undercover Brother" ... girl, I think we were separated at birth!

  11. A Nightmare Before Christmas is an excellent choice! Definitely a brilliant movie, even if it isn't one people might not automatically put on their lists. Heathers is also way too much fun. I love it! I have to check out Brothers Grimm, I meant to see it and just...never did. Will get around to that. Lastly, Planet Terror is ridiculously sex and I want to make sweet, sweet love to it. Great list!

  12. Liked you list of movies. I added your website to our blogroll, hope maybe you can return the favor.

  13. i must've been at work or something when this hit the community and im only just picking up on it now.

    from all of my reading of your blog and even this list i never realised how different your tastes are to what i am used to until i tried writing my own.

    honestly i am amazed by some of your choices. serial mom? really? cos 1994 was an immense year! :D

    also i am yet to start on hal hartleys body of work despite meaning to since seeing a trailer for something in 1994. where to start?

  14. Elisabeth: Hope you dig them!

    M Carter: I myself have wondered if we are secretly related haha.

    M Hufstader: Thanks! Brothers Grimm is quite polarizing, and I've stopped recommending it to people since some friends have been pissed after watching it. I like it a lot- it's far from Gilliam's best, but has a lot of really cool ideas.

    Toby: Yeah I do have some weird and varied tastes, haha, but that's what makes movies so fun for me! I just love it in general. And remember that these aren't all my favorite films from each year, but some are just movies that I wanted to talk about or had been on my mind. I dig Serial Mom, but I wouldn't call it the best of 1994. That would obviously be Speed. (I would insert a wink here if this was real life.)

  15. oh com eon, i went to see speed 2 cruise control at the cinema twice! winking is not essential.

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