To mark Christmas in an unexpected way I’ve decided to leave music aside for a moment and look at my favorite movies. As is the case with many of the music lists that have been compiled this will feature some unusual (and perhaps largely unknown) choices and perhaps some surprises.
As is the case with music lists, limiting the list to 10 means a lot of great movies have been left out so feel free to disagree and suggestion your own favourites.
As is always the case with “All time” lists this will no doubt be out of date when Dumb and Dumber To comes out, but until then here is the Tomatrax Top 10 Movies!
This movie kept me on edge the whole way through and stuck firmly in my mind a long time after. The whole movie has a dirty and utterly bleak scenery which sets the scene of the movie brilliantly. This all plays second fiddle when you finally get into the killer’s mind and understand the reasoning behind his actions. On top of this, while the movie is filled with violence, much of it goes unseen, leaving it to fester in your mind instead.
Set in an Alexandra slum, in Johannesburg, South Africa, the film tells the story of Tsotsi, a young street thug who steals a car only to discover a baby in the back seat. The story starts following Tsotsi commit a series of violent crimes against innocent and often defenceless people but then also provides a background on how he got to be who he is.
While I said that Seven was a bleak and violent film, next to Tsosti, it’s a family feature. It puts the dirty, depressing feel of the area right in your face, but also offers some glimmer of hope for the anti-hero.
This movie is just plain weird. Apparently no one has yet worked out what David Lynch was actually trying to say with this movie and he has no intention of revealing what it all means. But that’s kind of what I liked about it. It’s completely unconventional, there are some truly bizarre scenes that are equally unpredictable. But it left me thinking about it for a long time afterwards trying to make sense of it.
My take (which is almost definitely wrong) is that the whole movie is Henry Spencer’s dream. From there on the rest doesn’t have to and in fact shouldn’t make sense, because dreams don’t make sense!
Passages from Finnegan’s Wake
This would have to be the bravest adaptation of a book to film. While many have tried to interpret it, no one really has any clue what James Joyce was on about in his final novel.
Obviously Mary Ellen Bute had to take a fair amount of poetic licence in this film but it managed to capture the essence of the book (what that actually is) brilliantly. The dreamy feeling is very much felt through the movie. So much of it makes little sense but that is kind of the point.
Action, dark humoured and biting political satire, and space aliens. How could this movie be anything but totally awesome!
Star Trek – First Contact
The exploration into space, as well as the political, and ethical issues being challenged drew me in and make me obsessed with all Star Trek series. However, the movies, while enjoyable, always seemed like an extended episode. This was the exception. It was much darker, and really got into the minds and the struggles of the main characters.
There will always be a fierce debate regarding which Star Trek movie was the best, but to me this one stands heads and shoulders above the rest.
In a way it’s the movies simplicity that makes this cinema genius. The fact that Kevin Smith could make a movie which almost entirely took place in a 7-11 and yet had so many great memorable scenes is truly something special.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
I consider this to be the funniest movie ever! A completely irreverent depiction of the first century AD with a twist to mock the left wing movements of the 1970s. Pretty much every scene had me in uncontrollable fits of laughter.
The arguments about the movie being blasphemous were extremely weak and really missed the point of the film. But then again you can’t make someone laugh without offending someone else, unless you know someone who laughs at Christmas cracker jokes!
Full Metal Jacket
This is perhaps one of the most brutal and down-to-earth war films around, even if it is a bit over the top in parts. It focuses on the American Marines in the Vietnam War era, showing how they are brainwashed into becoming walking weapons, and then how these weapons behave during the war.
The film shows the brutal bootcamp style training camp and the consequences of pushing people too far. It then looks at the Vietnam War itself showing all sorts of inhumane acts from the soldiers such as firing at innocent Vietnamese from a helicopter and enemy casualties being thrown into a ditch.
The film is bleak and brutal, with an amazing level of intensity the whole way through and really shakes you up!
Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back
For the number one movie of all time I’m going to go right back to my childhood and the first set of movies I ever became obsessed with. Decades later I still come back to this and find something new each time. The mix of unusual space aliens drew me in and got me into sci-fi in general. In addition there was an element of fun here as the film didn’t seem to take itself too seriously (something sadly lacking in the later prequels).
That’s all for now, the next post will be about music again. Merry Christmas to everyone, I hope you have all enjoyed reading Tomatrax and will continue to do so in 2015!