Top 25 Movies (11-15)

11. Reservoir Dogs


‘Reservoir Dogs’ was the world’s introduction to the strange and incredible mind of Quentin Tarantino. It would be an understatement to call him a genius; there is no one out there who makes such fascinating, bizarre, and compelling pictures. A gifted writer/director might manage a handful of really special moments in a film; ‘Reservoir Dogs’ has too many to count. A few examples:

  • The whole conversation in the diner; the Madonna ‘Like a Virgin’ theory, the address book bit, and the no-tipping rant.
  • The title scene of the whole gang walking down the street in slow motion with ‘Little Green Bag’ by The George Baker Selection playing.
  • While Mr. White and Mr. Pink are at each other’s throats trying to figure out what to do, Mr. Blonde, who just shot a whole bunch of people, casually shows up sipping on a drink (he stopped for lunch).
  • Blonde, White, and Pink go out to Blonde’s car and open the trunk to the kidnapped cop, they all laugh and smile (pictured above).
  • Mr. Blonde is left alone with the cop. He tells the cop he doesn’t care what he knows or doesn’t know, he’s going to torture him anyway. He turns on the radio and ‘Stuck in the middle with you’ happens to be playing. Blonde gets his knife out and starts dancing… [This entire sequence is amazing]
  • Steve Buscemi’s character gets assigned the name ‘Mr. Pink’ and asks why he got Pink and not a different color. ‘Because you’re a faggot,’ replies Joe. Tarantino (who is acting in this scene) can be heard giggling off camera. [He can be seen cracking up during the diner scene at the start of the film as well.]

There’s not many people out there who love movies as much as Quentin and it shows in every film he makes. As brilliant as ‘Reservoir Dogs’ was, his next film would arguably be his best…

12. Fight Club

‘Man, I see in Fight Club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.’

‘You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis. You’re the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.’

Tyler reminds us what we already know but tend to hide from. We know that the media and marketing that we are surrounded by aims only to sell to us, not to enlighten us. We know that our habitual consumerism is little more than a shallow distraction from the real things in life. We know these things but we recoil away from them because it is much easier to be distracted.

‘The things you own end up owning you.’

Imagine having nothing but the clothes on your back; imagine no house or car, no money or bank account, no job, suit, or social status. What is left? The only thing left is you. The only thing left is that which is really real.

13. Kill Bill vol.1/2

The ‘Kill Bill’ movies have got all the typical elements that make a Tarantino film great; excellent music, compelling characters, a complex and captivating story, but ‘Kill Bill’, maybe more than any other Tarantino film, has got heart. The Bride’s journey is so long and difficult and she has to fight so hard. She has had everything taken from her including 4 years of her life and the daughter that she was pregnant with when Bill shot her. It is only because of her determination and spirit that she is able to continue… And then, as the Bride reaches her final destination, ready to conclude her journey and kill Bill, she sees that her daughter is still alive.

14. Taxi Driver

‘The days go on and on… they don’t end. All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go. I don’t believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention, I believe that one should become a person like other people.’

One of the greatest tragedies is the good person who is misunderstood and driven away. Travis was a good person with a good heart but he had a troubled mind and he lacked the social graces that would have him pass as ‘normal’. He needed help. He needed a real friend. If things had gone better with Betsy he might have been alright. He might have gone down a different path and been happy. Instead he became so delusional, deranged, and neurotic that he decided to go on a shooting spree.

15. Into The Wild

‘Into the Wild’ is based on the true story of Chris McCandless. After graduating college at the age of 22 Chris donated his remaining $25,000 of law school savings to Oxfam and went on an adventure.

‘Two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, ’cause “the West is the best.” And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.’ — Chris’ adventure lasted 2 years before he died in Alaska at the age of 24.

The film is brilliantly acted, well directed, and supported by a beautiful soundtrack, but it is the story at the heart of the film that makes it great. Chris abandons the comfort and security of civilized life for a real journey. He goes on a kind of vision quest or ‘spiritual pilgrimage,’ as he puts it, to ‘kill the false being within’. No money, few possessions, and no help from family or friends; Chris’ odyssey is one to find himself and become himself. As Tyler Durden said, ‘You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank…’

Some would criticize Chris’ journey as foolish for the fact that it ultimately caused his death. It is tragic that Chris never made it back home and he probably could have made better preparations, but what he did shows great wisdom and bravery, not foolishness. He went out and explored and traveled,  he met people and tried new things, he tested himself and did what he really wanted to do. While most of us stand at the shore and dip our toes in the water from time to time, Chris dove in. The real tragedy is not that some adventurers never return home, but that most never leave.

‘I’m going to paraphrase Thoreau here… rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me truth.’


5 thoughts on “Top 25 Movies (11-15)

  1. I like it, Jordan. I’m eagerly awaiting 1-10. I’d hope The Shining will find itself in there somewhere.

    On a broader note, I agree completely with the entire premise of this blog. It’s great to share ideas. I promise I won’t hesitate to comment.

    By the way, I’ve read the Feynman book and it’s one of my favorites.

    Rob N.

    1. Thanks a lot Rob. It was difficult choosing my favorites and I had to make some tough cuts, but I assure you there is more Kubrick to come!

      I am always interested to hear any comment/criticism/point of view on anything I post so I look forward to hearing what you think.

      Feynman, what a guy. I was originally just going to just do a write up about him but I realized there’s no substitute for hearing him talk the way he does.

      Thanks Rob

  2. After reading up to here, I think I’ve fallen even deeper in love with film.

    Also, while I’ve seen every movie on your list so far, you’ve pointed out some very important things that I’ve missed or haven’t given enough thought to. I can see how film really influences your life.

    1. Also something I haven’t entirely thought about… I’ve always been somewhat inspired by the characters Tyler Durden, Chris McCandless, Lester Burnham, Mark Renton and their ideals. I would like to live (parts of my life) like them. But what do they all end up with? Where does their ‘freedom’ get them?

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