Dave's Ten Movies Everyone Should See
This means you.
I have known Dave since high school, and he has always been interested in literature, movies, drama, you name it. Hopefully, he still writes in his spare time, other than the vastly entertaining emails that he sends me (and other people too). Furthering his credentials, he managed a movie rental place for a bit, which means he has seen many more movies than I have. If some of his descriptions sound a bit touchy-feely, that's as a result of the San Francisco atmosphere he's breathing. Heh. I would like to point out that not only does Dave read what I write, he reads for content. You have to respect that in a friend.
1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: I'd like to count the original trilogy as one movie, but picked this because a) it's the best of the current 5, and b) it's cheating--if a Star Wars virgin sees just this one, they will be obligated by forces of natural curiosity to see the other two. References to this movie abound in culture so much that one needs to be familiar with the story to prevent becoming a social pariah.
2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off: it reminds everyone of what it's like to be young and to seize the day. The kids aren't carefree--indeed real teen angst about relationships, college, et all pervades the film--but it demonstrates that those worries can be set aside, if only for a day.
3. The Breakfast Club: I wanted to let only Ferris represent the genre, but The Breakfast Club details class strife so well that it needed a shout-out. Nobody uses a pop movie to discuss the caste system as well as John Hughes, and no movie does it better than this. Plus, I think it's useful for society as a whole to know that 'Claire' is a fat girl's name.
4. Airplane: you can't watch it and not laugh (again, and again, and again) but the comedy comes in 2-5 layers PER SHOT. Hopefully people will walk away recognizing that life has complexity, but, more importantly, you should always look for the joke.
5. Dances With Wolves: nature is beautiful; destroying it is bad.
6. Trainspotting: if you take enough drugs and hang out with enough drug-users, you'll eventually end up grinning over a bridge with a sack full of cash. No... wait... drugs are bad! If you take enough drugs you'll see spirit visions of the baby you killed climb across your ceiling. Actually, it's just a good story of another culture and it uses music beautifully to help tell its story (I'm thinking specifically of "It's Just a Perfect Day...")
7. Pulp Fiction: no excuses, just a wonderfully entertaining movie. The only morals I can think are (again) drugs, organized crime, and pawn shops are bad. And it's not a motorcycle, baby. It's a chopper.
8. Holiday Inn: even black & white movies can be good! Irving Berlin wrote "White Christmas" for Bing to sing in this movie, and no one should die without seeing Fred Astaire glide across a floor as though he were on ball bearings.
9. The Shining: this movie uses brilliant suspense, contains a brilliant story, and has the best steady-cam big-wheel shot I've ever seen in my life. It's good to be scared every once in a while (vicariously, at least) and it teaches one never to disturb someone else when they're writing--good lesson. Ed. note: That's right. All work and no play make Super Jen all crazy.
10. Dead Poets Society: I know people have problems with this flick, and that's fine, but don't underestimate the utility of the life choice Carpe Diem. It also discusses the benefits (and punishments) of resisting totalitarianism, introduced a new generation to the sweaty-toothed madman, Whitman, and above all, teaches you to think for yourself.