I Want To Be Amazed… …By the ideas

By on April 5, 2012

When I was a musician many years ago, I was more talented than most, but I wonder if I still were at it musically, if I’d still be playing the Holiday Inn Circuit, performing the same oldies every night.

I bought a lot of music, then.  Still do.  I gravitate toward stuff that I can’t do; preferably stuff that amazes me.  I want to find something that makes me wonder: “How did they do that?”

So, when Steve, Sarah, James and I were talking the other night, and Steve took issue with some of my Bad (and Good) movie choices, thinking that I’d put movies into the wrong categories, it got me considering how I chose.

When I go to watch a movie, I want that same sense of “Holy Smokes! That’s amazing!” as when I first discovered an amazing band.

Okay, I realize that’s a pretty high bar, and I don’t even adhere to it all the time myself, but I aspire to it.

The memorable movies clear the bar.  It’s the idea, the story.  There wouldn’t be a movie without a great story (Unless you’re Michael Bey, and you make do with millions of dollars of CGI).

Some movies that I found “Amazing” (at least at the time) are: and this list is by no means complete or definitive…  I just wanted to start a conversation…

Alien – I went in knowing nothing; sitting in the front row.  I had popcorn and gum on my jaw because it hit the floor so many times!

Shattered - Murder mystery? Or something else. Now that I know the big reveal, I will watch it occasionally to see if there are inconsistencies…But the first time? Waaay cool!

Novocaine- We were talking about how spotty a career Steve Martin had had in the same evening. However, Novocaine stands out because the story is so good, not because of the acting.

L.A. Story – Surreal, Silly, sweet. Great writing, again I don’t watch this to be amazed at the acting…  For that think Pacino, or Hoffman (either).

12 Monkeys -Amazing, brave concept. Terri Gilliam is one of the most compelling story tellers I’ve ever come across.

Brazil – All the same- Terri Gilliam- great story!  Both these movies had the added benefit of having really good people in front of the camera too.

Soylent Green & Planet of the Apes (original)- Great reveals at the end of each- ground breaking stories, too.  The story propels the action, not some director- generated sense of urgency.  Great story telling.

Moon – Sam Rockwell tour de force. Great story. Unexpected twists and great pay off!

District 9 – I was surprised at almost every turn in this movie- made on the cheap – and it looks it! But what a cool story!

2001: A Space Odyssey – At times incomprehensible, it emerges as almost more of an impression than a coherent movie.
I was amazed, so it fits my criterion.

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind - Great story- good acting too, if Richard Dreyfus flirting with over the top doesn’t send you to the kitchen for snacks. Not so much “surprise” but really strong payoff.

Forbidden Planet – This was in Steve’s list. I messed up. I forgot it. He’s absolutely right. This is a great movie. A bit dated now, but a very strong and compelling story.

Blade Runner
– Who cares if the ‘droid numbers don’t add up? It’s a great story!

ChinaTown
– Again, I want to be amazed. I didn’t see this coming. It is inspired movie making- with just a touch of real, true history to give it …respectability

Altered States
– Surreal, LSD- tinged tour de force by William Hurt. Breathtaking, at the time. I need to see this again.

The Usual Suspects – What a final scene!!!

Time Bandits – Where did they come up with this? Ohmigod this is so weird, and yet it’s cute, funny, thought provoking. In short another Terryy Gilliam piece of genius.

 Red Rocks West – What a great idea: Nicholas Cage is down on his luck and is mistaken for a hit man…This sort of works for him until the reall hit man shows up. Terrific Idea- also a great film, great cast.

…In all of these movies there was an idea… something so completely unique that I’m glad, truly glad they were made and I got to see them.  The guy/ lady who thinks this stuff up, the writer… well he/ she deserves a lot more credit than they are typically afforded; however, the one who realizes the potential and sees the idea through to a movie, that my friends is something truly brave and special!


Filed in: DeadlyThoughts • Thursday, April 5th, 2012

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Death By Movies is a blog about watching way too much of everything.

And boy, do we ever.