I’ll often find myself staring at my blu-ray collection wondering what I should watch next. There are always a few movies that my eyes always stop at and debate if I should watch it again– for the hundredth time. These are movies that if I ever have friends over to watch a movie I stop and say: ‘YOU HAVEN’T SEEN X?! YOU NEED TO WATCH X RIGHT NOW!!” I then force them on my couch and strap their eyes open a la Clockwork Orange and I make them watch it. They don’t even have the choice.
This series will be a reoccurring trend in Stuck Up Cinema where I’ll recommend three movies that you should watch right now, because, well, they’re amazing. They’re movies that are just dripping with a memorable and sophisticated style and substance. I’m not even going to go as far and say that these movies are perfect and I don’t want to put down other people’s taste in movies; these are just three movies that you need to watch right now. RIGHT NOW.
If I catch you walking by my house I am going to drug you, tie you down and make you watch these all back to back. Long story short, don’t walk by my house. And the first movie I’ll make you watch is…
Paths of Glory (1957)
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Oh Kubrick. Oh man, I don’t even care if it’s cliche to worship this guy’s feet. He was a certified genre chameleon when it came to filmmaking and he succeeds in pretty much everything he puts his mind to. Of course this came along with him being a cruel perfectionist on set… but… yeah. Paths of Glory tells the story of a commanding officer (Colonel Dax, played by Kirk Douglas) who leads a group of French soldiers who refuse to embark on a suicide attack against enemy territory. The higher-ups are pissed and three soldiers are chosen to be tried and, if found guilty, executed for cowardice. Bummer. Colonel Dax decides to stand up for his soldiers because, god damn it, it’s bullshit! Outside of the war Dax was a lawyer so he represents the men in the court and he defends his heart out for them. Do they get spared or are they executed? I guess you’ll just have to watch it, huh? (The ol’ bait and hook tactic, I’m smarter than I look.)
Every aspect of this movie hits strong. The scenes in the trenches are blocked and shot wonderfully and the war scene is very well done (for its time, don’t compare it to Saving Private Ryan, please.) Where the movie hits so strong with me is when it enters the courtroom. Watching this movie was my first time seeing Kirk Douglas act and it was amazing. He stepped out of the television screen, grabbed me by the collar and dragged me back with him and threw me face first into the courtroom. I felt like I was there seeing a man desperately try and get three innocent men saved from death, because, to Dax, they were exactly that: innocent.
It’s a short movie, only 90 minutes, and it absolutely flies by, and when it’s done I’m certain you’ll agree that it’s a movie one needs to see. It’s a lot different from today’s standards, but you can’t watch a movie from 1957 and judge it on today’s standards, that’s idiotic. Watch it and judge it as a movie; if it has compelling characters, situations, and themes then that’s what you should judge it on.
FUN FACT: This movie, when released, was banned in France.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
This film is a precise and exact exercise in deconstructing just how ugly we as humans can get. Taxi Driver follows Travis Bickle (played PERFECTLY by Robert DeNiro) a mentally unstable man (though you wouldn’t tell just by looking at him) who slowly and methodically breaks down all while trying to become a hero. Travis is isolated and alone and a lot of the movie is told through his perspective via narration. It’s from this narration we discover just how much he hates nearly everything and what he thinks about all the, as he sees it, ‘filth’ that exists on the streets of New York City. Throughout the story Travis meets a plethora of people who are all played wonderfully by a surprisingly large supporting cast. (Jodie Foster, Albert Brooks, Cybill Shepard, Harvey Keitel, Peter Boyle, and even Scorsese himself) – Every character serves a purpose and it all builds up to an unforgettable climax.
Like Kubrick, I view Scorsese as a filmmaking God. Taxi Driver is, to me, easily his biggest success. Everytime I watch this movie I just can’t help but feel entranced by it. There’s something about the shit world that Scorsese and everyone else forms that is so compelling. This movie is pessimistic and alienating, something, if you read my 80s Cronenberg post, that I am very fond of. Taxi Driver is the pinnacle of film pessimism in my books because Travis is a really terrible person. You’re following somebody that you know you’d HATE to know in real life but for some reason you like him, you are actually rooting for him in the end. Isn’t it odd that Scorsese and DeNiro were able to make us relate to someone who is pretty much a psycho?
If you’re interested in film Taxi Driver is a must watch. The look, the story, the acting, the score, the atmosphere, all of it. This movie is just tight and it hits strong. Go watch it NOW. Please and thank you.
FUN FACT: This movie inspired a real life assassination attempt, just like the one in the movie!! Oh gee whiz!!
Directed by: Satoshi Kon
UGH! OH GOD! WHAT IS THIS FILTH?! THIS IS ANIME!! Stop that right now if you’re thinking that. That’d be like freaking out and not watching Up because it’s an animated movie. Basically if you live with that kind of idiocy running your mind you’ll miss out on not only Up, but a surrealistic mind-trip like no other– that one, is Paprika. Paprika is directed by Satoshi Kon, known for movies such as Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika. Unfortunately he recently passed away, but the movies he did make are something people will remember him for.
The plot for Paprika can quickly be summed up as this: It’s Inception, but more messed up, dream like, it came first and it’s better. This is coming from someone who really enjoyed Inception too. Paprika’s and Inception’s similarities end pretty early what with their plots being about a piece of machinery that you can use to enter dreams. It’s here that the similarities end. Inception became more action oriented and used a more literal approach to dreams while Paprika took a surreal aspect and made its dreams, y’know, dreams. The machine to enter people’s dreams is eventually stolen and the dreams start invading real life and thus begins the chase for our protagonists to save the entire world.
Paprika is a fun, wild and messed up movie. Seriously, you’re going to watch it and get so confused, but by the end all the pieces will click together and you’ll understand. The movie is very quick at the start too, it doesn’t hold your hand and rattle off scenes and scenes of exposition. You’re dropped right in the situation and you have to piece it all together yourself from the clues they do give you. By the end you’re all caught up and everything they’re saying just makes sense. The climax of this movie gives me an adrenaline rush everytime, I always get so amped no matter how many times I watch it. The true sign of a successful story, is one that you can hear/watch again, and again, and again and you just don’t get sick of it. Paprika is that story.
So what are you doing reading this? Go buy all these films, get your hands on them and support filmmaking. All three of these movies are worthy of your money. I’d recommend any of them to anybody, otherwise I wouldn’t call them ‘Movies You Need to See’.
Until next time.