“10 Movies…” part two

Here’s part two of “10 Movies That Changed My World”. Again, I’m not recommending these as classics or as family viewing fun or even movies you’ll enjoy. But these 10 movies have profoundly impacted my life in a way that I feel deep, deep down inside.

I’m taking a chance of losing any shred of credibility I’ve ever had in sharing these titles. If you’ve seen any, share your thoughts or the movies that made your list!

6. Shawshank Redemption (1994) Tim Robbins / Morgan Freeman
IMDB Plot Summary: “Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.”

Great performances, clever plot, and so many insights into being human that it’s almost too much for one story. Andy’s ‘baptism’ after crawling to freedom through the sewer is an iconic image. Bob Gunton and Clancy Brown create two pathetic villains that we realize are bigger prisoners than everyone else in Shawshank. Truly a brilliant movie.

Movie Quote:
Red: [narrating] I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

The IMDB memorable quotes page for this movie is incredibly full. That’s the kind of movie this is.

7. Fiddler On The Roof (1971)
IMDB Plot Summary: “Tevye the Milkman is a Jewish peasant in pre-Revolutionary Russia, coping with the day-to-day problems of ‘shtetl’ life, his Jewish traditions, his family (wife and daughters), and state-sanctioned pogroms.”

First time I saw this movie I wanted to be Jewish in the worst way. (Um, that sounds kind of *wrong* somehow) Tevye becomes this bridge between the past and the present, the real ‘fiddler on the roof’, perched in the precarious position of what his culture was and what it is becoming. It’s his over powering love for his family that inspires me most in this film. His prayer life is the kind of prayer life we should all aspire to.

Movie Quote:
[to God]
Tevye: I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?

8. The Razor’s Edge (1984) Bill Murray as Larry Darrell
IMDB Plot Summary: “He had everything and wanted nothing. He learned that he had nothing and wanted everything. He saved the world and then it shattered. The path to enlightenment is as sharp and narrow as a razor’s edge.”

I can’t begin to describe what this movie did to me. I’ll just say simply that it provoked me to ask bigger questions and look for more meaning and not settle for pre-packaged truth. Murray is fantastic. The story diverges from the book which is likewise good but in an entirely different way.

Movie Quote:
Larry Darrell: It’s easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.

9. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) Jimmy Stewart / Donna Reed
IMDB Plot Summary: “An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would had been like if he never existed.”

That summary is for the last 20 minutes of the movie. The strength of this movie is that the majority of the movie is about a normal man, living a fairly normal life with joy and sorrow, friendships and conflict. He is us. And the last few minutes of this movie reveals that an ordinary life lived with others in mind rather than self makes us the richest people in the world. I’ve always wanted to change the world. Seriously. But this movie made me realize that if all I get to do is change the world of a few people in my little community that’ll be a life well-lived.

I started to cry as I read through the quotes for this. I’m such a girl.

Movie Quote:
George Bailey: Just a minute – just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You’re right when you say my father was no businessman. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I’ll never know. But neither you nor anyone else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was – why, in the twenty-five years since he and Uncle Billy started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn’t that right, Uncle Billy? He didn’t save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what’s wrong with that? Why – here, you’re all businessmen here. Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers? You – you said – what’d you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken down that they… Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you’ll ever be.

10. French Postcards (1979)
IMDB Plot Summary: “An American group of exchange students come to Paris to study the language and culture for a year.”

I changed this last listing twice before I decided to be honest. This is definitely not a classic, more like a guilty pleasure but it came at such a perfect time in my life. I was just graduating high school when I saw it on cable for the first time. It filled my mind with ideas about travel, romance, adventure and the power of friendship. It also got me hooked on “Do You Believe In Magic?” and I can’t hear that song today without flashing back on this film. Besides a fine young cast, including Debra Winger and Mandy Patinkin in tiny but memorable parts, it doesn’t have much to offer as stories go. But it has Paris and romance and for me, that was enough. Again, it was a movie that made me want more and sparked something that’s probably why I live on an island now rather than being surrounded by cornfields.

Movie Quote:
Alex: [recalling his trip] I spent a week in Grenada mostly watching the famous rain in Spain. All in all the trip was incredibly – it was – lonely. But don’t tell Joel that, ok. I just told him the trip was great.
Laura: Yeah, I was going to say that about my trip. But it’s hard when they bring you back in an ambulance.

Well, that’s it, thanks for reading! Make some comments and one of these fine films could be yours (or the set of steak knives – your choice)!


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
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15 Responses to “10 Movies…” part two

  1. J. Bryce says:

    Bri. I love the list. I have the blockbuster online account and am always looking for new movies to see. I think I’ve only seen three of your ten. A classic (maybe I can’t call a 1993 film a classic) that I recently saw for the first time was “Schindler’s List.” It profoundly impacted me, but not in the way that it would most. i.e. the injustice committed to the Jewish people. (Not that the atrocity wasn’t horrendously impacting; I spent some time at the Holocaust museum in D.C. and was rocked.) But the way that Liam Neeson’s character did business was profound… his profit was the human heart. If only capitalism was structured in such a way…

  2. brianmpei says:

    Great perspective on Shindler, Joel. If anyone can put heart into business it’s you!

  3. Tim Stark says:

    The “steak knives” prize option IS a reference to _Glengarry Glen Ross_, right?!

    I owe my love for Buckaroo B & the Boys ALL to you, Brian (what’s your Blue Blaze Irregular I.D. number again?). Like _Princess Bride_, I just plain did NOT get it the first time around …

    But you were patient with me– gentle, hopeful, expectant and enthusiastic– until I matured and understood and came to a knowledge of the truth, nurtured and influenced in the warm, calming light of truth as expressed in the simple elegance of the schematics for the oscillation overthruster …

    Always grateful,

    I’m also very glad you made sure I took _The Razor’s Edge_ seriously right from the git. I’ve “hated” Catherine Hicks ever since seeing this film, and I’m afraid that misplaced hostility is likely to stain my heart until the end of my earthly days– Tyrone Power, too, for that matter, along with all the critics who trashed Billy-boy’s remake of the story.

    Have I apologized lately for giving up unnecessarily on the “year in Liberia” idea? We could have read a lot of the same books Larry had on his cockroach-overrun shelves in that time …

  4. brianmpei says:

    Tim! I am Daniel-san to your Mr. Miyagi when it comes to movies!

    We could’ve done that year but if I remember correctly we would’ve been part of the revolution around the 6 month point.

    Have I told you about my dream of riding motorcycles from PEI to Tobago yet?

    The “steak knives” are indeed in honour of GGR.

    And finally, can I tell you how uncomfortable I felt reading your 3rd paragraph? Not as bad as getting caught parking with you in M’boro but very, very close.

  5. Patty says:

    I was anxious to see what the rest of your list would include and again, I am amazed! Of the movies on your list that I have seen, I would tend to agree with you on their humanness factor, thus making those movies memorable. Of the ones I have not yet seen, I would probably rent them if the opportunity came about, just to see for myself what it was about them that caught your attention.

  6. brianmpei says:

    Patty, they changed me. And that’s no exaggeration. I’ve always thought that’s what art should do.

  7. Patty says:

    A good movie is entertainment. A great movie should provoke you to thought and hit you somewhere deep. I’m with you, dude…I love movies but I love great movies and like you, I have come across a few that hit pretty close to home. Let the art continue!

  8. Tim Stark says:

    Paragraph 3 was my special gift to you. No charge.

    Think of it as the internet version of five aspirin cannonballed with an oversized Pepsi chaser in the drowsy middle of a cold night at a greasy truck stop east of grime-dusted St. Louis (Troy, Illinois, right?).

    For real. When you scanned it, didn’t you immediately remark the epiphenally profound observation, “I can’t feel my face”? Be honest now …

    Forget parking in “Calamity.”

    Think: Amateur Chiropractic treatments in The Showplace II … with the sight of Paul Smith _Uncanny X-Men_ covers, the sound of Leon Redbone and the smell of hot-potted asparagus filling the air … “Did we lock the door?” “Dad Beard, is that you?!” … glory days!

    I’m melodramatically, morbidly, maudlinly humming “Auld Lang Syne” with a wink, a nudge and a tipping of the cap in honor of absent friends …

    I won’t forget that, without you and your parents’ cozily suburban basement tv room, I would never have met _Fearless Frank_!

  9. brianmpei says:

    Ah, Fearless Frank! Watching that back in my early/pre-teen days was a revelation!

    And your “trip” started WEST of St. Louis and carried on into Illinois but I wouldn’t expect you to remember any of that.

    Geez, I forgot about the ‘adjustments’. Given what happened with friends on the same floor that year I’d say we were justified in our paranoia!

  10. Rachel says:

    “Shawshank Redemption” was a great movie, although I wouldn’t want to watch it again, it took so much out of me emotionally! The last 10 minutes were jaw-dropping.

    And of course, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was fabulous. I really enjoyed your quote – it can just see George pacing back and forth as he speaks and mean old Potter scowling at him. That movie never gets old!

  11. deb says:

    Loved the list and actually saw 9 of them, missed Buckaroo. If you watch any of the movies you listed and aren’t affected by them well……you probably fell asleep! BTW, Groundhog Day is way funnier if you watch it with someone who doesn’t get it 🙂

  12. Donna says:

    I copied out your list to take with me next time I’m renting a movie. I would love to see Joe Vs. The Volcano, so that will be my first pick. Thanks for doing this. The quotes are great.

  13. brianmpei says:

    Thanks for all the comments!

  14. Shelley says:

    you know that this Xmas i saw “it’s a wonderful life” in it’s entirety for the first time?? I see what you love it.

  15. brianmpei says:

    Donna and I always used to watch it while we wrapped gifts but now that the kidlings are older we just make some other time to catch it during the holidays. I’m always inspired.

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