You've no doubt noticed from Part I of this movie meme that my taste tends toward the pedestrian rather than the intellectual, the mainstream more than the obscure; though I like to think I don't gravitate towards complete garbage. Anyway, a film buff I ain't. In fact, there are tons of great movies I haven't seen yet. The problem with a) not having a clearly defined day job and b) doing creative work is that it tends to suck up all of your time and attention, which doesn't leave a lot of room for stuff like movies. (Of course, somehow I find time to watch way too much TV, but that's because you can arguably--if not very effectively--work at the same time.)
Anyway, here's Part II--from the real to the surreal.
Day Seven: Blatantly Propagandistic but Inconveniently True Documentaries
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) This is really just one of those movies that everyone should see, whether you hate Michael Moore or not. I happen to enjoy his work, especially when taken with a grain of salt and a sense of ironic humor. It's always very revealing to see how various people react to him in his movies. We had a rather profound experience watching this one--it was one of the select few movies that we went to see in the theater, and we saw it on Independence Day. It was not a huge audience, but the people who were there were profoundly moved, sometimes to tears.
Super Size Me (2004) Disgusting, disturbing and hilarious. Watch Morgan Spurlock eat fast food, get fat, appall his doctors, alienate his girlfriend, and lose his sex drive, after 30 days of eating fast food. Truly epic.
Day Eight: Eccentric Historical Characters Day
Amadeus (1984) This one freaked me out a little when I was a kid--I'd never envisioned the time period of powdered wigs and frilly dresses as also containing rampant sexual innuendo and frequent farting. All that aside, it's a fairly striking movie about one of my favorite classical composers (though Immortal Beloved, with the fabulous Gary Oldman, is also great). AND it contains Jeffrey Jones, the evil principal from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Go figure.
Topsy-Turvy (1999) A strange fact about my childhood is that I really liked Gilbert and Sullivan. We're talking about when I was six or seven years old. I'd come back from school and stay at my grandfather's house until my mom got off work. My grandfather had this huge set of LPs with highlights from all of Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas, and I would sit there listening to them, following along with the lyrics. To this day, I know a lot of the songs by heart from HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance, my two favorites. The movie focuses on their production of The Mikado, which I actually saw in person once.
Day Nine: Alliterating Anglo-Indian Heritage Day
East Is East (1999) There aren't very many movies specifically about Pakistanis, and this one hit really close to home because of the theme of a Pakistani father who immigrated to London and married an English woman. When his children get to a certain age, he decides he's going to go all traditional and arrange some marriages...and is sorely disappointed to find that his children consider themselves British. This one made me laugh AND cry, sometimes at the same time. Om Puri puts on an incredible performance (a similar, but much more depressing, movie in which he plays a key role is My Son the Fanatic).
Bhaji on the Beach (1993) A touching movie about generational differences among the women of an Anglo-Indian family, by the director of Bend It Like Beckham--which is arguably my favorite of her movies, but is less...uh...educational, I suppose, and more fun. It really was a toss-up, but I would have felt like a dork putting Bend It Like Beckham on this list. Even though it made me cry. I almost never cry at movies, just on principle.
Day Ten: The Labyrinth of the Human Mind. WooOOOooo!
Pan's Labyrinth (2006) This is one of the most incredible movies I've seen lately, both emotionally and visually stunning. I'm a sucker for surreal and disturbing symbolism, apparently.
Being John Malkovich (1999) John Cusack and Catherine Keener are excellent in this movie. It's just such a bizarre, surreal idea - finding a portal that leads into John Malkovich's head, and then deciding to turn that into a moneymaking venture. Plus, after Pan's Labyrinth you really need a bit of an upper.
Day Eleven: Jean-Pierre Jeunet Est Magnifique!
Delicatessen (1991) I love just about everything Jeunet does, and this is one of his lesser-known movies but it's no less bizarre and hilarious. Again, it's got that dystopian fantasy feel that I like, and that surreal aesthetic that I also like, plus a liberal dose of humor and the best sex scene ever made.
Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001) I know everyone's seen this one by now, but it's one of my favorite movies. The music is fantastic, Audrey Tautou is adorable, and the story is good and quirky and very French. Dominique Pinon, who is in many of Jeunet's movies, has a funny minor role.
Day Twelve: Always End on a Laugh
Also known as "Unexpectedly Interesting Use of Musical Enhancements Day," since I have the soundtrack to both of these.
Office Space (1999) This Mike Judge movie is one of my favorite comedies, possibly because I spent a fair amount of time working in offices. It's got an all-star cast of not really huge but really funny comedic actors, like Diedrich Bader, Stephen Root, and John C. McGinley (of curret Scrubs fame)--the only really "famous" person in it is Jennifer Aniston, and she is not the focus of the movie. There's also the gangsta-style fax machine execution and the fact that this movie popularized the term "pieces of flair."
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Not everyone liked this Wes Anderson/Bill Murray movie--and yes, it was a bit bizarre. But I guess that's what I liked about it. I love Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett was amazing, and it's got possibly my favorite movie soundtrack ever - Seu Jorge doing acoustic-guitar, Brazilian-style covers of David Bowie songs (here's an example).
So yeah, I'm finally done. It's Meme-tacular!