Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.

When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Cinema: Movies that move

M has asked me to list my top five favourite movies. This is something I have always avoided doing. I have never understood how to rank either movies or books. I get so confused. Do I like Toy Story better than Godfather or is it the other way around? I am sure scholars and critics, people who have some understanding of the art and craft of movies, will be able to say why one is better than the other. I am just a guy who watches a lot of movies. I can only talk about how a movie made me feel and that too at a very intuitive level. And I react to the same movie in different ways at different times. So how a movie makes me feel depends as much as on the frame of mind I watched it in as on the movie itself. However, not answering when someone asks about my favourite movies also feels like a cop out. There are movies that I like very much. Movies that have moved me in different ways. Even movies that have moved me in different ways at different times. So I am going to take a middle ground here. I will think of different genres and for each genre I will mention the movies that for me represent that genre. That is to say the movies that immediately come to mind when I think of that genre. They may or may not be the most "acclaimed" or well-known, or the most award-winning or money spinning movies for those genres but I don't care about all that.

I have decided to create separate lists for Indian and non-Indian movies to avoid the difficulties of slotting a lot of my favourite Indian movies into these genre definitions.

This is the list in no particular order.

Science Fiction
  • Gattaca
  • Blade Runner

  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring

  • Godfather
  • Il Postino

  • Tinker Tailor Sailor Spy
  • Notorious

  • Paths of Glory

  • Groundhog Day

  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Chinatown

I do not like romance movies unless they are comedies. By romance movies I mean movies where the drama is just around the trials and tribulations of love. A list like this is no place to go into the reasons for this bias - believe me, as irrational as it sounds, there are reasons for it - so I will elaborate on that some other time.
  • My Fair Lady
  • Notting Hill
  • Love Actually - Not all the stories in this movie are equally good.

There will be follow up posts to this as I add to the list of genres and movies. The only two genres guaranteed not to appear here are horror and blood-and-gore. I hate horror movies. Even the lousiest horror movie scares the shit out of me and I don't like being scared. And I despise gore for gore's sake. I don't like violence in general. Movies which have no point other than to show gore - "Saw", "Hostel" series and their like - turn me off.

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