My younger brother and our grandfather; August 13, 2007. Photo by Me.
“Last one out of Liberty City, burn it to the ground.”
“Last One Out Of Liberty City”, ‘Hello Rockview’; Less Than Jake (1998)
“A list poem is one of the easiest kinds of poems to write because it doesn’t require either rhythm or rhyme. But that doesn’t mean you should write down anything helter skelter. Here’s a list of elements that makes a list poem a poem instead of just a list:
1) The writer is telling you something–pointing something out–saying, “Look at this” or, “Think about this.”
2) There’s a beginning and an end to it, like in a story.
3) Each item in the list is written the same way.”
“How to Write a “What Bugs Me” List Poem”, by Bruce Lansky (1996)
“My advice, to anyone willing to listen, is to find a notebook that fits into your pants pocket. Use a pen with a cap so it doesn’t explode in your pocket, and start writing down whatever you can remember. Even if it’s a favourite colour. Then, later, write down why it’s your favourite colour…. and pretty soon you’ve got a list.”
The Fifth Five: My Ultimate Twenty Five Movies
This is the fifth, and last, part of a list of my favourite movies. A year after I started treatment for manic depression in November, 2002, I started keeping a journal. A few months after starting I began to make lists of my memories. After nearly eighteen-years surviving untreated my memories had become jumbled and confused. Making lists about movies, embarrassing moments, meals, places I’ve lived among many others proved to be invaluable to my recovery. Each list took a little more power away from the disease and gave me more confidence in myself. After this post there is the second part to the “52 Places I’ve Lived” post and the last list I’m going to share.
The First Five: Bladerunner (Directors Cut) (1992) (Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer); Tora, Tora, Tora (1970); All The Presidents Men (1974) (Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman); Our Lady of The Assassins (2002); Se7en (1995) (Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt).
The Second Five: The Americanization of Emily (1964) b/w (James Garner, Julie Andrews); Giant (1956) (Rock Hudson, James Dean, Liz Taylor); The Prophecy (1995) (Christopher Walkin, Eric Stoltz); The Filth And The Fury (2002) (Sex Pistols — doc.); Network (1976) (Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall)
The Third Five: Pi (π) (1998) b/w (Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis); Apocalypse Now (Redux) (1979) (Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall); The Killing Fields (1984) (Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor, Spalding Gray); Cool Hand Luke (1967) (Paul Newman, George Kennedy); Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif).
The Fourth Five: Run Lola Run (1998) (Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu); Three Days of The Condor (1975) (Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway); City Of Ghosts (2002) (Matt Dillon, James Cahn); Touching The Void (2003) (Joe Simpson, Simon Yates); The Third Man (1949) b/w (Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton).
The Almost Six: Spartan (2004) (Val Kilmer, Derek Luke); The Station Agent (2003) (Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale); The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher); Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002) (George Clooney, Sam Rockwell); Clerks (1994) b/w (Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson); Mississippi Burning (1988) (Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe).
Once Were Warriors (1994) (Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison) Based on a 1990 bestselling novel by New Zealand author Alan Duff this movie is about as close filmmaking has gotten to portraying the kind of abuse and degradation indigenous people have been put through and have put each other through. When an entire people have no hope, no recourse, no defence against the crushing poverty left to them by their colonizers they almost always turn the abuse onto themselves and the people around them. Once Were Warriors deals specifically with New Zealand’s urbanized Māori people and the family abuse, rape, alcoholism, drug abuse and violence which has become almost inherent to their sub-culture. But the movie could have been set in Australia, India or Canada without changing a scene. It is very rare — very rare — to find a well made movie about poverty, this one is at the top of the list in terms of quality and honesty.
The two main characters are “Beth”, a traditional Māori who left home when she was a teenager to marry “Jake”, basically an alcoholic angry young man. They move to a city slum where, over eighteen years, they have five children. The movie is mostly about the relationship between the Māori who have succumbed to the crushing poverty, and those returning to their traditional beliefs and traditions. The acting is spectacular and raw, and very few punches are pulled. Literally. This is a fantastic film, and easily one of my favourites.
Jake Heke: “I’ll kill you first!”
Beth Heke: “Well go on, do it! You’re still a slave Jake. To your fists. To the drink. To yourself. Well go on – kill the bloody lot of us!”
Beth Heke: “Our people once were warriors. But unlike you, Jake, they were people with mana, pride; people with spirit. If my spirit can survive living with you for eighteen years, then I can survive anything.”
The Great Dictator (1940) (Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard) Charlie Chaplin was a brilliant filmmaker. “The Great Dictator”, released two months before Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and the subsequent entry of America into the Second World War, is possibly the greatest piece of satirical filmmaking ever put on a screen. But it’s target wasn’t Germany’s NAZI politics, the target was the American public who wanted nothing to do with stopping the spread of those ideologies. This is Chaplin’s masterpiece. It’s also his first “Talkie”, and holy Christ does he talk. Weirdly enough, considering how closely related the philosophies of 1950’s Soviet Union were to 1940’s Germany, Chaplin was a fan of communism at the same time he was anti-NAZI. After making this movie, and a few other overtly political movies, Chaplin was labeled as a communist-lite in America. Chaplin was basically chased out of America during the McCarthy witch-hunt, basically because in 1947 Chaplin released a dark satire in the same vein of “The Great Dictator” called “Monsieur Verdoux”, only his target was capitalism. But, if you listen to the speeches in “Dictator” he wasn’t really a communist, he may never have made a film directly attacking the Soviet Union, and he may have wanted America to get into WW2 to fight alongside the Soviet Union and not necessarily to protect the people being put into the ovens — but “Dictator” was about showing political theories, a political theory, in practice. His support of the Soviet Union at the same time seems to me to be about protecting the world from NAZIism, not about promoting Soviet Communism. Besides, “The Great Dictator” trancends any single dictator. The movie could have been about Stalin, Pol Pot, Mugabe, Hussein, Idi Amin…
Garbitsch: “Corona veniat electus.” Victory shall come to the worthy. Today, democracy, liberty, and equality are words to fool the people. No nation can progress with such ideas. They stand in the way of action. Therefore, we frankly abolish them. In the future, each man will serve the interest of the State with absolute obedience. Let him who refuses beware! The rights of citizenship will be taken away from all Jews and other non-Aryans. They are inferior and therefore enemies of the state. It is the duty of all true Aryans to hate and despise them. Henceforth this nation is annexed to the Tomanian Empire, and the people of this nation will obey the laws bestowed upon us by our great leader, the Dictator of Tomania, the conqueror of Osterlich, the future Emperor of the World!”
The Devil’s Rejects (2005) (Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon) I do believe Rob Zombie, the writer and director of Devil’s Rejects, could be in the top one percent coolest people on the planet. The… lets call it a “prequel” to this movie was “House Of 1000 Corpses” and, mostly, it sucked hard wood. So Rob, thinking of his characters as his children, put together some bucks and a script and — like any good father — came up with The Devil’s Rejects as a way to kill off the main characters from Corpses properly. Ebert & Roeper gave this movie two thumbs up, called it Oscar worthy, then told people not to go see it because — holy fuck — it was that disturbing. This is not “horror porn”. Movies like “Saw” and “Hostel” have no plot and exist only to create new and interesting methods of using a power drill. Those movies have their place, but “The Devil’s Rejects” has a plot, it has excellent acting and it has a back-story. The movie will actually make you feel… something approaching regret, even remorse, when The Firefly Family finally get beat down. Zombie, apparently a huge Marx Brothers fan, has named the family of psychopaths who do most of the killing, after characters from their movies. Zombie — who was also one of the most influential musicians of the 1990’s — has taken over the “Halloween” franchise from John Carpenter and used most of the cast from “The Devil’s Rejects” for the upcoming release. See? He’s so freaking cool he lets us see his wife’s ass and he’s loyal to his friends. The soundtrack was pretty righteous as well.
Captain J.T. Spaulding: What’s the matter, kid? Don’t ya like clowns?
Jamie: [shakes head crying]
Spaulding: “Why? Don’t we make ya laugh? Aren’t we fuckin’ funny? You best come up with an answer, cos I’m gonna come back here and check on you and your momma and if you ain’t got a reason why you hate clowns, I’m gonna kill your whole fucking family.
The Thing (1982) (Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley) More than any other movie I can remember from my childhood, this one fucked me up the most. John Carpenter isn’t the godfather of horror, he’s the God of Horror. His brand of horror may be on the sidelines for now, at least until Rob Zombie gets it back in the game, but from 1978 until 1983 Carpenter released Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), The Thing (1982), and Christine (1983) plus there was the classic They Live (1988). I can remember being twelve and walking home in the middle of the night, in a fog, after watching The Fog at a friends place… that was fucking nuts. But “The Thing”, that was something else. When the severed head grew those spider legs and scuttled off… obviously I was a little young to be watching the movie, and obviously it didn’t fuck me up that badly as I’m still here, but I’ve never been frightened walking out of another movie since watching The Fog and The Thing. Startled while in a movie, yes. Walking out frightened, no.
MacReady: “I know I’m human. And if you were all these things, then you’d just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn’t want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It’ll fight if it has to, but it’s vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it’s won.”
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo hu cang long) (2000) (Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh) The first movie since Star Wars to make me think I was watching something actually magical. I saw it the first night it played in Toronto. I had seen the preview and read a review but otherwise had no clue what I was about to see. The first few minutes really pissed me off, not because of the movie, but because people were laughing at the movie. No one in the theatre knew how to react to the special effects, and there was nervous laughter coming from everywhere. Until “Crouching” every movie from China actually came from Hong Kong and either had bad dubbing or Bruce Lee, and the ones which were really made in China all had smiling tweens and teens wearing red scarves gleefully denouncing the landlords. China has been going through an identity crisis since about the time of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. The country is moving, albeit slowly, away from Communism and is rediscovering its own history as it does so. The fact this movie is set in China and inside Chinese mythology and partially paid for by the Republic is remarkable — “Crouching” was filmed in China, but financed by American, Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Chinese companies, which is equally remarkable considering the relationship between Taiwan and China. When it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, the Oscar actually went to Taiwan. Of course “Crouching” was directed by Ang Lee, who was born in Taiwan and only one of the four stars — Ziyi Zhang — was borne inside the continental borders of China. “Crouching” was, and probably still is, the most beautiful film I’ve ever watched.
Jade Fox: “Your master underestimated women! He’d sleep with me, but he would never teach me. He deserved to die by a woman’s hand.”
Li Mu Bai: “I’ve already wasted my whole life. I want to tell you with my last breath that I have always loved you. I would rather be a ghost, drifting by your side as a condemned soul, than enter heaven without you. Because of your love, I will never be a lonely spirit.”
…since november fourteenth, 2006.
“You burn things when there’s no going back. How much of
yourself have you had to burn away to be
the person you are today? Because baby, my body
is ash and my mind is still smoking.”
Spartan is awesome. LOVE IT. Love ‘The Salton Sea” with Kilmer in it as well. Lovely movie.
Thanks for stopping by the church. I appreciate it.
I love the talkies too. It surprised me as I read your list how few of my favorites are on your list. I don’t know why I should have been surprised, but I was.
My list would have included these that you also like:
Se7en, A N (redux), Spartan (I like though I don’t know if I would place it in the top 25 on my list), The Thing (Both the original and the remake.)
Thanks again for the comment.
WhoreChurch: It’s something I plan on doing more of, thanks for coming back this way.
Spartan seemed to be as much an experiment in filmmaking as it was an excellent film. The repetitive dialogue, the simple sets and the implied locations all seemed to be influenced by TV programs like NCIS and 24. I was actually surprised by the US$20M budget of Spartan, there really only seemed to be three sets… the office at the football field, the house on the ocean and the Middle Eastern airport. Spartan didn’t make a lot of cash but I’m still surprised there was never a sequel.
Spartan had a few more sets than that; the whorehouse, the white slave house, and a couple other places.
The dialogue struck me as strange. I think I need to give it another watch.
The “white slave house” was the place on the ocean. There were three main sets, with a couple of implied locations… although the initial “running through the brush” could be a fourth. Watch it again and ask yourself where the action is really taking place. There are “establishing shots”, like the helicopter flying over the football field, but then the “action” takes place in a couple of low-end offices which could be anywhere. All the stuff in the Middle East feels like Saudi Arabia (or wherever), but really it’s just a cargo crate, a room and a dark alleyway with the marketplace and a couple of women in a burqua as the establishing shot. The only location Kilmer’s “Man-With-No-Name” character is ever really in is at the end as he walks though London…
Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure they use those kinds of cargo crates on planes…
The Thing was a great flick. I remembering enjoying it as a child almost as much as the 1978 remake of Invasion of the body snatchers, which I think is still a better version of the story than the new movie The Invasion.
For a movie that had a $3.5 million budget and the cast that it had it ranks up there pretty high in my book.
Donald Sutherland was freaking awesome in that movie… from what I’ve heard and seen the latest Invasion was a disaster, but the premise sounded decent. I thought the television program from a few years ago was excellent but it got cancelled because hardly anyone else agreed with me. Shaun Cassidy can’t catch a break. His “American Gothic” rocked as well, but it couldn’t get an audiance.
Stop rummaging around my movies drawer!
We’re pretty much in sync when it comes to fave movies. Some on there I dont know and will check out.
Sutherland is good in just about everything. My favorite sci-fi with him is The Puppet Masters.
I don’t know… I’m not going to doubt the brilliance of Mr. Sutherland when he’s “on”, but I find his roles really hit and miss. I didn’t see Puppet Masters, it seemed to be a remake of Invasion only with more slime, but “Six Degrees of Separation” is totally underrated and if you can find “Human Trafficking” — it was a mostly Canadian made for TV mini-series — he was great in it, and I loved his little piece of “JFK”.
Dead Robot: If you want me out of your movie drawer you’re totally going to have to change the porn in the other drawer.
You may be right, but I had just come from imdb looking at his films and realized I liked just about every movie he was in. It was surprising to me how many movies he is in fit my particular tastes.
But surely not “Beerfest”? I loved Broken Lizard’s “Super Troopers” but even I couldn’t get through Beerfest… although The Donald’s participation was pretty limited. “Eye of the Needle” is one of my favourite Donald movies, but Sgt. Oddball in “Kelly’s Heroes” was probably my favourite Donald character.
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