It was in the late 70s and I would put down my fifty cents at the door at the Rialto in Ottawa and watch B movies all afternoon and evening. It was here I saw such classics as Westworld and Soylent Green. OK, not classics. But my enjoyment of the cinema continues to this day. Here are my favourites, in no particular order:
Lawrence of Arabia
I saw the remastered version in 1990 or so. While the film is most noted for its sweeping desert scenery and battle scenes, for me the attraction was the characterization of T.E. Lawrence - how a man could be on the border between genius and madness. The motorcycle crash? It was a suicide.
This film is stunning in its surreal depiction of the Vietnam War - the scene at the bridge is etched in my mind, as are some memorable lines: "Saigon. Shit!" or "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."
I didn't know they could make movies this good.
Joe Versus the Volcano
Meg Ryan plays three roles, Tom Hanks learns to appreciate life - this movie speaks of the frustrations we all feel and places them into perspective. I still use the term "brain cloud" when I'm having a less than brilliant moment.
Sleepless in Seattle
If there was ever a perfect date movie, this is it.
The perfect action film. The effects are great, the pace is non-stop, and the actors look so good. Again, filled with memorable lines: "Hasta la vista - BABY".
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
After the cruel disappointment of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this film revived everything which works in Star Trek, and added some great battle scenes to boot. And Spock dies. Who could ask for more?
Star Trek: First Contact
I think that the writers of Star Trek surpassed themselves with this movie, touching on a number of themes and nicely interweaving three separate story lines - the Borg, the discovery of the warp drive, and the first contact with the Vulcans - all into one great story. And the character of Zephram Cochrane is an image that lingers.
OK, the plot was hokey and the American jingoism got to be a bit much, but the creators of this movie really understood the concept of memorable scenes: the expanding ring of file levelling a city, the alien space ship hovering over L.A., the hundreds of fighters racing to attack...
The film carries no deep message for me, but it is so brilliantly crafted and so compelling it must make any such list. To me, what the film represents is genius - not as portrayed on film, but as exhibited by David Lynch. The director works at a different level from everyone else, giving me something to admire and to aspire to.
The Lord of the Rings
This three film epic was the major cinematic event for me in the early 2000s. Of course, I had read the books many years earlier. And of course, I had played Dungeons and Dragons and participated in MUDs. So the films were like a homecoming, beautifully realized, everything they should be.
10 March 1996
Updated 15 August 1997
Updated 21 June 1999.
Updated 24 April, 2002
Updated August 30, 2004
Updated 27 August, 2007