Recently I did a blog tour with my King Harald books and at one of the stops posted a piece on ten movies that I love to death. It’s reprinted below. If you’re looking for a great flick to watch this weekend, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with any of these:
There are movies that I love. And then there are movies that I love to death and never tire of watching. I can’t give you a reason why some movies fall into that category for me. Genre doesn’t matter, though humor usually plays a role, in the form of a really witty script or funny physical comedy. Or it may be the ambience or setting, or the visual feast a movie provides. All I know is that for me, these ten flicks are as much fun to watch the tenth time as they were the first.
Moonstruck (1987) My all-time favorite rom-com. We watch it every November and transport ourselves to a magical, romantic Brooklyn of our dreams. Loretta the widowed bookkeeper innocently visits the bakery of her fiancé’s brother, to invite him to the wedding. Cher locks eyes with Nicholas Cage, and sparks fly. Cher is simply luminous in this role. Moonstruck makes me sad that she didn’t act in a lot more movies.
Bringing Up Baby (1938) Put together two of the greatest movie stars ever in a screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks and what do you get? Hilarity that holds up nearly eighty years later. Cary Grant is the uptight paleontologist who is reluctantly dragged into uproarious disaster by the wacky, crazy-like-a-fox heiress played by Katherine Hepburn. Her character, Susan Vance, always gets what she wants. And what she wants is Grant’s Dr. David Huxley. And who is Baby? The pet leopard Hepburn uses to rope in the man of her dreams.
The Incredibles (2004) Pixar Animation has made a number of classics. But as much as I enjoy the Toy Story movies, Monsters Inc., and Inside Out, this tale of a superhero family gone incognito is my top Pixar flick. Like the best kids’ films, it spins laughs on both kid and grown-up levels. And as a depiction of family dynamics goes, it’s surprisingly sophisticated. Of course, it has lots of great action and adventure, too, and the incredibly funny Edna Mode, voiced by director Brad Bird. Just watched it again for the eleventh time on Christmas Eve.
Diva (1981) If you like sexy, sophisticated thrillers, and you haven’t seen Jean-Jacques Beineix’s Diva, hop on your moped and grab it right now. Our young hero Jules is a moped courier in Paris who makes a bootleg recording of an American opera singer who never records. He ends up meeting her and romance ensues. Somewhere along the line, evidence against a prostitution ring is dropped in Jules’s saddlebag, and the bad guys are after him. The breathtaking moped chase through nocturnal Paris is a white-knuckle classic.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) Animation master Hayao Miyazaki retired last year, but his eleven films continue to delight kids and grown-ups alike. This is my favorite—the adventures of a young witch as she flies forth on her broom to make a career for herself in a new city. Kiki is voiced in English by a very young Kirsten Dunst.
The Birdcage (1996) There’s no movie I enjoy more on a cold winter’s night than this comedy about a gay couple in South Beach who operate a drag nightclub. Based on the French film, it’s not only good for a lot of laughs, but to show that love and family come in many guises. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are brilliant as the couple trying to convince their son’s conservative in-laws-to-be that they are, in fact, straight.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Tim Burton and Henry Sellick’s genius stop-action musical is a holiday-season regular in our house. In fact, an action figure of the movie’s hero, Jack Skellington, sits proudly next to our flat screen TV. Jack is the fair-haired boy—so to speak—of Halloweentown, a macabre little burg populated by ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. When Jack kidnaps Santa Claus and sets out to do Christmas the Halloweentown way… Well, it’s a monstrous mess. Had our annual viewing a week ago.
The Big Lebowski (1998) One of the great cult films of the nineties, the Coen Brothers’ black comedy follows the misadventures of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, as he seeks recompense for his, umm, “soiled” Persian rug. To enter the madcap world of the Dude (Jeff Bridges), and his sidekicks Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi), is to enter a sort of comedic nirvana.
The Longest Day (1962) Every June, when the D-Day anniversary comes around, I watch this epic film about the 1944 invasion of Normandy. I remember seeing it in the theater as a kid. It follows easily a dozen story lines and has an incredible cast: John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Richard Burton, and many others.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986) Take one dim-witted but gutsy truck driver (Kurt Russell), an evil dead wizard of Chinatown, two beautiful kidnapped girls with green eyes, a stolen truck, three demons called The Storms, and a teeming cast of good and bad minions, and you have one of the funniest fantasy-adventures ever made.