Poets' Favorite Movies
I had difficulty limiting my list of favorite films to 10. Aside from
Bergman's, Truffaut's, Hitchcock's and Fellini's (and the other greats)
masterpieces, here are my favorite films today (because they would be a
little different tomorrow).
The Big Sleep, starring Bogart and Bacall. Adapted from
Chandler's novel by Faulkner. Along with the shots of LA back in the
day, the great acting and story, I love the music of the dialogue.
Perhaps David Mamet's dialogue was inspired by films such as these.
The Philadelphia Story, starring Hepburn, Grant, and Stewart
and directed by George Cukor. What a great cast! Again, the music of the
dialogue entrances me. Also, the pacing, comedy, and story keep me so
entertained and engaged, I don't want the film to end.
Miracle in the Rain. When I was growing up, my mother and I
used sit on the sofa together on Saturday afternoons and watch old
movies. Miracle in the Rain, starring Jane Wyman and Van Johnson,
two of my favorite actors at the time, made me cry every time I saw it.
I think I identified with the movie because my father died when I was
three, so I knew the sorrow of losing someone who put a sparkle in one's
life, and because my father had appeared to me when I was five or six,
giving me relief.
The Tenant, starring Roman Polanski and Isabelle Ajani and
directed by Polanski. This movie is very macabre and does a great job of
showing how it feels to be an outsider. Unfortunately, I've only been
able to find the dubbed version, which I'm sure doesn't do the film
justice. I like this film more than Rosemary's Baby. I use the
scene in which Polanski jumps out the window as a metaphor for
explaining to my writing students how I feel when I want to give up on
what I'm writing, but then I drag my broken body up the stairs and
Annie Hall, co-starring Diane Keaton and directed, co-written,
and co-starring Woody Allen. For me, this movie is a close tie with
Allen's Play it Again, Sam and Hannah and Her Sisters. I
have watched this film many times and it makes me laugh every time. The
trials and tribulations of romance still ring true, and I identify with
Allen's and Keaton's characters and Allen's relationship with his
parents. I also love the footage of 70s New York, the writing, including
the dialogue, and its rhythm/music, and interior monologues, the camera
shots, the cultural references, the realism, the layers...
Moonstruck, starring Cher, Nick Cage, Olympia Dukakis, among
other greats. I've also watched this film many times, and it never fails
to make me laugh. I love how melodramatic everyone is; they remind me of
me and my family. And I would love an early thirty year old Nick Cage to
toss aside the kitchen table, scoop me up in arms, and carry me to his
bed and "leaving nothing but my bones." As with Annie Hall, I
also enjoy the footage of 80s New York, the writing, including the
dialogue, and its rhythm/music, the camera shots, the cultural
references, the layers...
Three Colors Trilogy: White, Blue, Red, directed and
co-written by the great Krzysztof Kieslowski. Along with the genius of
the stories and color schemes, I adore the soundtracks for these movies.
The Double Life of Veronique is a close second.
Sense and Sensibility, directed by Ang Lee and brilliantly
adapted from Jane Austin's novel by Emma Thomspon. (I also love Lee's
Ice Storm; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Brokeback
Mountain. Lee makes the place come alive for viewers, and I feel the
characters' journeys. I think this is some of Thompson's and Winslet's
best acting. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I cry at the
Almodóvar's All About My Mother and Women on the Verge of a
Nervous Breakdown. Almodóvar captures women and their complexities
even better than Woody Allen.
Amores Perros, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and
starring Gael García Bernal, among others. I find this to be one of more
innovative screenplays in a long time. The directing and acting are also
is Assistant Editor of Speechless.