Top Movies continued 2

We were here

We Were HereDirected by David Weissman, this is the only documentaries on my list.  We Were Here documents the emergence of HIV and AIDS in San Francisco in the 80s.  What makes this documentary so powerful to me is the way it shows the response within the gay community. It is told through archives and interviews with the men and women who survived.

As someone who grew up during the AIDS crisis, it had a huge influence on my own sexuality. Sex became a potential death sentence.  If I was ten or fifteen years younger I could have very easily been caught up in this.  The AIDS crisis shaped my views in a very powerful way.

“If you put a group of young men together and told them to have as much sex as they can, how much sex would they have?  The answer is a lot of sex.”

There are some powerful moments recounted by the men who lived through it; from the initial postings by the local pharmacies warning of a “gay cancer” to the responses by food banks lead by lesbians.

It marks a moment in gay history as powerful and as important as the death of Harvey Milk and the Stonewall riots.



Hero_posterThis was one of the first Chinese movies I had ever watched that belonged to the new Wuxia era of Chinese filmmaking.  Since then there have been many others to great acclaim such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, or House of the Flying Daggers.  However in my opinion Hero is still the best of this genre. I am sure someone has dubbed it in English but I prefer to watch it subtitled.

The cinematography in Hero is really second to none. Similar to the films of Peter Greenaway these films films are visual masterpieces. The martial arts in it is spectacular, however I am not really an aficionado of martial arts so I can’t say how it compares to other filmes.

I suppose another reason it is on my list of top movies is it was one of the first movies I watched it with my husband who at the time was my boyfriend.





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Movie List Continued

3) Drowning by numbers

drowning by numbersDirected by Peter Greenaway I think this film holds a special place in my heart because it was the first Greenaway film I had seen.  It was not surprising to me to learn that he that he studied as a painter before becoming a director.  If you watch some of his other films: The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover, The Pillow Book, Nightwatching, they are all incredibly visual films which warrant multiple viewings to capture the totality of what is going on. Floating feathers, sparkling rockets, rockets, ripe fruits dripping with juice, the film is a Dutch still life brought to cinema.

Visuals don’t overshadow the plot either.

Its the story of a mother, daughter and granddaughter who all drown their philandering and boorish husbands with the duplicit help of the local coroner.

Madgett, the coroner is also a habitual game player who along with his son Smut make up the rules of various unusual games played by the characters.

Starting with a girl jumping rope and counting the stars;  the film carries in the scenes and in the dialogue numbers from one to a hundred which keep popping up.  I have seen the film several times, and never accounted for all of them, yet another game.

4) Totoro

totoroThis is Myazaki’s magnum opus which brought him to the attention of Hollywood and the West.  Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away might be better known here in North America but it’s Totoro that really captures Myazaki’s genius.

It is a deceptively simple story of two young girls who move with their father into the country to be near their ailing mother.  Their country house is filled with Soot-sprites and Totoro and all sorts of benign spirits. After befriending these spirits they have all sort of magic adventures including a Chestshire Cat-bus. (Don’t ask just watch the film)  We never find out what ailment the mother has, but it’s not really important either. The film is also very Japanese for example, there is a scene where the girls jump into the bath with their naked father, something not normally portrayed in the West.

The film embraces themes of wonder and childhood innocence.  But there is a strong overtone of environmentalism and the importance of green space frequent in Myazaki’s films. To say nothing of the incredible craftsmanship and artistry in this film.  The illustration and animation is amazing.  While intended to be a kids movie it is a something most adults will enjoy as well.

5) Red Violin

red_violin_ver2This film is a contender for number one on my list for so many reasons, the plot, the music, the visual imagery. Most importantly it stars Samuel L. Jackson and he doesn’t say “fuck” once. (Can you imagine?)

Jackson plays an antiquities investigator who must find out about a collection of musical instruments found in the house of an old Chinese music teacher.

What makes this so appealing is the story wraps on itself numerous times telling of a red violin as passes through the centuries and the hands of many people.

The film takes place in modern day with the famous (or infamous) violin being up for auction. In the investigation to prove the piece’s providence we are taken back in time to when the violin is first made by Italian master Nicolo Bussotti for the birth of his first child.  His wife is having the fortune of the baby told an old maid. And this the vehicle for the telling is set.

The story continues though time to an 18th century Austrian monastery, gypsies, a 19 century English Virtuoso, to China and the Cultural revolution and back to where we began, with a collection of musical instruments found in the house of an old music teacher.



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Top movies

I started making a list of the top movies for me personally. It’s difficult because there are so many movies I love and movies that were important at certain times in my life. Here is the first installment of my list.

1) The Darjeeling Limited

Darjeeling Limited

Directed by Wed Andersen Starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Angelica Huston.
The plot is about three brothers who meet in India a year after the death of their father and the interplay between them. Each hides a secret and on the journey learn to trust and love each other again. Francis, the eldest brother reveals that they are on their way to see their mother and that his “accident” was really a suicide attempt. Peter the middle child reveals he is going to be a father and Jack the youngest is going back to his ex-girlfriend.

The interplay between the three main characters is not unlike my own relationhips with my siblings; especially after the death of my mother. The brothers get into a fight regarding their deceased fathers lugguage and who was their father’s “favorite”. The themes of loss, abandonment and sibling relationship permeate every scene of this film.

“You don’t love me!”
“Yes I do.”
“I love you too but I’m going to mace you in the face!”

This scene alone is enough to send me into fits of laughter. Together with a great sounds track, incredible imagery and snappy dialogue it makes for an enjoyable journey.

2) Aliens


Directed by James Cameron, Starring Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henrikson, Bill Paxton and Michael Biehn

The second film in the franchise this is one of the best action/horror movies of all time. My early memories of watching this for the first time include my eldest sister and I scrunching down in our theatre seats hugging our knees and a ride home filled with sudden stops just in case something was on the roof of the van.

A dark film starts with Ellen Ripley being rescued after decades in cryogenic stasis. Later she is asked to return to the planet where the crew of the Nostromo first encountered the alien as part of a team sent to rescue terra-formers who the corporation has lost contact with. The film has themes relating to corporate greed, military zealousness, and good ol’ fashion know-how coupled with incredible special effects.

The best line is when Ripley steps out wearing the loader armour to fight with the mother Alien and says, “Get away from her you BITCH!” At that point you’re cheering Ripley on.


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