The personal blog of Robert Hardy:
Filmmaker, Musician, Writer
Another no-brainer. The best animated feature film of all time is Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anyone who disagrees with that clearly has no soul. None whatsoever.
So what all do I love about this movie? Well, everything. I love the stop-motion feel of the entire film (It’s real stop-motion too!). I love all of the funny and quirky characters, and I love how the characters become so much more than just animals. So much more. I love the all-star cast of voices behind those characters. So good. I love the story, and I love how well executed the story is. I love the script and the dialogue. I love the music. I love Wes Anderson as a director (hell yeah Royal Tenenbaums!). And it’s all based on an awesome Roald Dahl novel. There’s just nothing not to love about this movie (hell yeah double negatives!). So, if you only see one animated stop-motion feature this year about a talking journalist fox who sticks it to mean and nasty farmers with his team of skilled forrest critters, make it Fantastic Mr. Fox. You won’t regret it. And if you do, you’ve got no soul.
Bambi. Nuff said!
This one is very, very tough indeed. There are just so many fantastic directors out there. There’s David Lynch, and Stanley Kubrick, and Terry Gilliam, and Orson Welles, and Andrei Tarkovsky, and Quentin Tarantino, and Terrence Malick, and the Coen Brothers, and Alfred Hitchcock, and Woody Allen, and and so on, and so on. But there’s one director who has absolutely floored me beyond belief with two of his films, and that director is Paul Thomas Anderson. Firstly, Magnolia is the most underrated film from the past 20 years. It’s undoubtedly the most thrilling and beautifully done film ever made in the intersecting narrative genre. This I can say without any doubt in my mind. But the film that absolutely floored me and changed my expectations of what a film should be was There Will Be Blood. In my opinion, this film will go down as one of the greatest films of the 21st Century, unless something crazy happens (like Hollywood starts producing movies that aren’t total shit). Much of why I love this film is Daniel Day Lewis. His infallibly masterful performance in the role of Daniel Plainview is rivaled only by his performance as Bill “the Butcher” Cutting in Gangs of New York, and that is no short accomplishment. However, the film itself is a transcendent exercise in the art of filmic tension, which is why I love it so. Never, in all my days, have I seen a film build to such a climax. Never. It truly is masterful in every way, shape, and form. There are few other directors in contemporary cinema with as stunning a filmography and as promising a future as Paul Thomas Anderson, and for that reason he is my favorite director. Along with all those other ones…
Turns out this one is really difficult for me as well. I guess I’m just indecisive as can be when it comes to singling out movies that I’ve seen. But for this category, movies that make me sad, there is good reason for my indecisiveness. There are movies that make you sad on a gut level, movies that just hit you at your core for some reason or another. For me, this movie is The Elephant Man, which as the one person who actually reads this blog might recall is my favorite movie of all time. It’s a film that evokes a wide spectrum of emotions, everything from an outright woefulness and a burning hatred to a tearjerking elation. The Elephant Man is the only movie to date that has made me weep like a little baby. Yeah, I admit it. Maybe I’m a big softie. I don’t know.
The second type of film that I find particularly saddening are movies that leave the viewer in a state of contrived and/or cognitive melancholy. These are movies with messages that just don’t resonate with our preconceived notions of what the world is and how it should be. For me, this movie is the the Coen Brothers much overlooked masterpiece A Serious Man. When it comes down to it, A Serious Man is a movie about how nothing we do matters in the scheme of things, about how coincidence and chance rule our lives in ways that we never could. It’s so subtly nihilistic and fatalistic that by the time it reaches its conclusion and the screen cuts to black in typical Coen Brothers fashion, the viewer is left feeling empty and deprived of the ultimate message that we’ve come to expect from our films. But given time, the message of this film sinks in and you’re left feeling (for lack of a better way to put it) pretty bummed out. But don’t allow that to disuade you from seeing this movie. It is so fantastic in nearly every way (it might just have the greatest scene ever made) that I can’t recommend it highly enough. Just don’t expect a happy ending.
This one is difficult because there are so many movies that make me happy for some reason or another. Movies with uplifting scripts make me happy. Movies that are well made make me happy. And movies that make me laugh a bunch make me happy.
So for this category, I have to declare a 3 way tie between Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Cool Runnings, and Forrest Gump. There’s just no way that I could make pinpoint a single movie that makes me the happiest because all three of these movies make me downright jolly. Both Ferris and Forrest are movies that I will watch at anytime with anybody because I love them so much. Whenever either comes on television, I automatically switch to that channel and watch, even if the movie is half way through. It’s just impossible for there to be anything better on if one of those two movie also happens to be on. Lastly, if Cool Runnings doesn’t make you happy, then you officially have no soul. Nuff said!
This one is a no brainer. My favorite comedy movie of all time, without a doubt, is the wonderful and quirky Wet Hot American Summer. On first viewing, I thought it was kind of stupid and slightly immature, but oh how wrong I was. It’s one of the few movies that just gets better and better every time I see it, and I still manage to find new jokes that I’ve never caught before even after my 5th or 6th. Wet Hot American Summer is always fresh and always funny. If you don’t like it the first time you see it, watch it again. You’ll be glad you did.
Shit, I’m already behind on doing this daily and it’s only day five. Oh well. It’s not like anybody reads this damn blog anyhow.
Drama is most likely my favorite genre of film because it is one that is all encompassing. There are just so many great films that fall into the category of drama, everything from Citizen Kane to Pulp Fiction. But there is one film in particular that I’d have to pinpoint as my favorite in the genre, and that is Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream. I’m not even sure if the film is technically classified as drama, but there’s no way in hell that anyone could possibly deny that Requiem is, well, as dramatic as it gets. It’s very rare that such heart-wrenching and utterly tragic drama is depicted on the screen. And that’s why I’ve chose the Aronofsky masterpiece as my favorite. It’s not that there aren’t better films out there in the genre, because there most certainly are. It’s more that no other film can make me feel as I do when I watch Requiem for a Dream. It’s just one of those films that moves me in ways that I can’t describe, and nor do I want to. Everything from the fantastic script, to the perfect acting from Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn, to the most masterful editing that I’ve ever seen, work together to create an unforgettable and ultimately horrifying film experience.
Now this one I should have some fun with. Horror is one of my favorite genres of film because it’s one of the most manipulative of the human psyche. Horror, when it’s done well, takes advantage of the imperfect human mind and manipulates the viewer into feelings and natural reactions that would typically be highly unlikely (perhaps impossible) in a real world context. The same can probably be said of many other genres of film, but horror undoubtedly takes the cake for most manipulative genre just by its unifying principle. Horror is meant to scare the shit out of you in one way or another, and filmmakers have gone about this in hundreds, if not thousands, of different ways through the years. However, most horror films fall short of that goal, at least in my case anyway, which leaves a select few films for me to choose from for today’s film challenge. There are classic choices like The Exorcist and The Shining (The Exorcist scared the shit out of me more than any other film), and then there are more modern choices like The Ring and El Orfanato (The Orphanage). And that’s not to discount any of the excellent Asian horror out there. A Tale of Two Sisters and Audition are two of my personal favorites from our neighbors in the East.
But my favorite horror film that I’ve seen to date is one that many people would not expect. It’s the film adaptation of the Stephen King short story, The Mist. It’s not really scary like any of the other movies on my list. There’s not crazy shit jumping out at you or possessed little girls or elevators full of blood. No, it’s scary for another reason altogether. What makes The Mist scary is not what happens to be in the mist (it’s actually kind of lame), but it’s what happens to the people trapped inside the grocery store that makes this horror masterpiece scary. As the good folk in the store begin to realize that modern civilization has perhaps crumbled in the matter of hours due to this mist, so does their sense of socially defined morality and logic. In that sense, The Mist serves more as a piece of social commentary on the state of human nature than it does as a horror film. What happens over the course of the two or three days that these people are trapped in the store is one of the most frightening things that I have ever seen. This hasty degradation from civilization to primitivity should make the viewer seriously question his or her beliefs about human nature, as well as their religious beliefs. The Mist also happens to have one of the most jarring endings that I’ve ever seen. And that’s my case for why The Mist is one of the scariest movies that I’ve ever seen, even though it’s not the scariest…
Believe it or not, this one is really difficult for me. Action movies are generally not my thing. It’s not necessarily that I have an aversion to the action sequences (I am a man, after all). It’s more that I have a difficult time liking most action movies as a whole. The script and dialogue are generally a bit forced (for the purpose of getting to those big action sequences), more often than not there’s little to no meaningful character development, and the gigantic action sequences, though fun to watch, are often not for the purpose of moving the story forward. The action might be grounded in the plot, but it’s only there for the sake of being action, not to move the story forward. And that, my friends, is my problem with action movies. That’s not to say that good ones don’t exist, because they most certainly do, but 90% of them are more like porn than they are like good films. The action sequences are like the sex scenes, and everything else is just thrown in out of necessity for the slightest bit of context. My rant on action movies is done now.
Adventure movies, however, are a different story. I love a good adventure flick just as much as the next person. Some of my favorites are Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, The Goonies, Blade Runner etc. etc. etc. These movies are fun, they’re classic, and they’re all well made. I guess that’s all I really need from a movie to accept it, that someone put some thought into it and that it’s well executed.
Without a doubt, I’d have to say that my favorite movie is David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful and most touching stories ever committed to film, and it happens to be technically perfect. A film has never emotionally affected like The Elephant Man did. I was straight-up crying like a baby when it was over, and that’s something that no other film has ever done to me. It’s also worth a watch to see a very young Anthony Hopkins in one of his best roles. Please watch this movie if you haven’t.