Die Hard: Yipee-ky-aye, melon farmer! I tend to watch this movie on AMC (they run it once a week), Spike TV, or TBS, and the editing of John McClane's filthy mouth is priceless. He utters some of my favorite dialogue in existence. In fact, Bruce Willis doesn't really exist. It's only John McClane. But this movie was Alan Rickman's feature debut (playing Hans Gruber, the awesomest awesome that ever awesomed), and he is so wickedly brilliant. Because Willis was on Moonlighting at the time, the writers and director had to alter the script to match his available schedule, and that is why we get so much background information and more scenes with the secondary villains, which is really a smart move. As much I enjoy heist/terrorist movies, like Inside Man, I always get irritated that we only get to know and understand the mastermind. I want to know what the other bad guys are getting out of it. Also, little known observation, McClane enters the Nakatomi building wearing a plaid shirt. He strips down to his glorious white tank within the first fifteen minutes, but does McClane seem like a plaid type of guy? I've probably seen Die Hard more than any other movie, including It's a Wonderful Life (which I watch at least twice a year and can out-quote anyone) or Sliding Doors (see below).
Alien(s): Alien and Aliens (and The Shining) are the only movies that truly scare me. Whereas Kubrick's film is more psychological, the two sci-fi gems make me hesitant to be so eager to be abducted. (Seriously, I'm game.) Encore tends to put these on in a trilogy, but they never show the fourth one. Ellen Ripley, played of course by Sigourney Weaver, is the greatest heroine ever. She takes initiative and kicks ass. Sure, there's the skimpy tank and undies scene, but it's not sexualized. Both Alien movies are really just variations on the Boogeyman. Concepts are always scarier when you can't visualize them (and building momentum in the music helps too). In the sequel, the scariest part is when the trackers are looking at their equipment and they realize that the aliens are in the same room as them, but they can't see them. I've probably watched the original more than the sequel, but if I watch the first one and the second one's on immediately afterwards, I will stick around for the second one. Ripley's maternal storyline is just as interesting as the aliens and special-effects. They have aliens (that don't look humanoid, thank god), artificial intelligence, and one fantastic performance from Bill Paxton (see clip above).
Dave: This is one of few romantic comedies that isn't just tolerable but enjoyable. Kevin Kline plays Dave Kovic, an everyman who dons the guise of President Bill Mitchell (also played by Kline), who had a heart attack while sleeping with his secretary. Sigourney Weaver plays the First Lady, and Kevin Kline is just so charming in this movie that he makes Weaver's simple performance seem enchanting. Usually, I rewatch movies because the scripts are so memorable, but with Dave, it's about the performances. Although, "I once caught a fish this big" is permanently ingrained in my brain. Frank Langella is political evil at its best, and it's one of the few movies where I actually like the cameos from news reporters and political commentators. Let's not forget Bonnie Hunt's brilliant five-second scene: "We're walking, we're walking. Stop." And I'm not going to lie. I get teary-eyed when bodyguard Ving Rhames tells Dave, "I would take a bullet for you." Dave, Sliding Doors, and French Kiss are the only rom-coms I have watched and will continue to watch multiple times. Two of those have Kline in them... I'd love to see him return to the genre.
V for Vendetta: I really hate the question "what's your favorite movie" because there are so many layers of taste and judgement involved, so I prefer the more specific questions. "What's your favorite science-fiction film?" "What's your favorite CGI film?" My favorite question is: "What movie do you feel was specifically made for you?" The answer to that question is V for Vendetta. I joke that it's a humanities major's wet dream (which is true), but I don't tend to confess that I saw this movie in a theatre with about ten people and left immediately afterwards without saying goodbye so that I could drive around and cry in my car for half an hour. I later rejoined them and didn't explain my absence. This movie really affects me. The above youtube clip is not from the actual movie; rather, it's a video of kinetic typography scripting the scene where V introduces himself to Evie (there's also Fight Club, Monty Python's witch-burning scene, and Pulp Fiction, among others). The script is absolutely brilliant. I cannot emphasize that enough.
First and foremost, the plot. It's a strong conspiracy dealing with government lies and coverups (I'm always a fan), which creates a Frankensteinian monster out of V. Secondly, there's V. I absolutely fell in love with him. Despite having a background in art history and despite having a love for all things London, I wanted parliament to blow up. The idea was more important than the building and, as we all know, you can't kill an idea. Hugo Weaving's voice is like a dream, and the things he says makes me feel more human, more alive, more intentional than anything ever uttered in real life. He's the ideal idea. And the scene where Evie leaves and V throws his mask onto his mirror breaks my heart. He never planned on falling in love with her. And that was the smartest thing the Wachowski siblings could have done; give our invincible hero a vulnerability. At first I didn't care for Natalie Portman's British accent, but it's either grown on me or I've just gotten used to it. Either way, it doesn't bother me anymore. Every scene, every word, every pause - this movie was made for me.
Sliding Doors: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! I actually watched this yesterday. And the day before. Both Encore and HBO have been showing it recently, not that I'm complaining. The concept is really intriguing - how would your life be different if you went left instead of right? This movie shows both scenarios. In one direction, Helen, played fantastically by Gwyneth Paltrow, is fired from her job and catches the tube home to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman. She then meets James, played with comedic charm by John Hannah, who convinces her to start her own PR business. In the other direction, Helen is fired but misses the tube home, and so her boyfriend continues cheating on her without her knowledge and she has to take up two part-time jobs to support them while he's writing his book. The most interesting part about this movie is that sliding doors or missed opportunities or alternate paths pop up throughout the movie. There are coincidences and choices that occur, and at any time, our two versions of Helen could have branched off exponentially to show us the impossible number of directions life can take. The boyfriend (John Lynch) and his mistress (Jeanne Tripplehorn) are boring and awful people, and you don't really understand why Helen has put up with him all this time. But it doesn't matter because you have John Hannah, who gives some of cinema's best lines. His character is incredibly well written. "Do you prefer diamonds or sapphires? Oop, sorry." The clip above is the scene where Helen and James meet on the tube and he gives The Beatles a new name... This movie isn't brilliant, but it's charming and it's enjoyable and it's refreshing. At times, some scenes do get old, but it doesn't matter. I can still quote the entire script, and I can recognize the movie by its opening music. I can't hear that music without thinking Sliding Doors!
Empire Records: "I don't feel that I need to explain my art to you, Warren." Without a doubt, the best worst film ever made. For anyone that's lived under a rock their whole lives, this movie follows the shenanigans of employees at the independent music store Empire Records, which is being bought out by a larger chain. It boasts a strong cast: Renée Zellweger as the store slut, Maxwell Caulfield's Rex Manning as the iconic music asshole, Rory Cochrane Lucas, the most bizarre hybrid of artsy and punk, and the ever-adorable Ethan Embry as a mural-humping Axel-obsessed music geek. (There's also a surprise visit from a shop-lifting Warren Beatty, ha!) This is one of those movies you grow up on, so if you weren't born in the 1978-1988 time frame, I don't know if you'll love this movie as much as I do. It is not, by any means, a good movie, nor is it particularly inspired or well-written. But the one-liners are priceless and the stereotypes are not as obvious as, say, The Breakfast Club.