The quarantine has been sometimes productive, at times creative and certainly exasperating. Nevertheless, the creative part is the one I preferably try to bring out so just for fun this time not only will I try to do my best writing in English but also write about one of my favorite topics: movies. It’s been perhaps about two months now since I visited a movie theatre or even watched a film in the company of my folks or any of my friends. So when the night falls on any given day of this special period, what makes a difference comes down to the night’s movie selection. Yesterday it was Scarlett O’hara and Rhett Butler’s turn to entertain me. I had never seen Gone with the wind; not even once. So I prepared myself and stayed put for the almost four hours this ordeal takes. I must say that I now understand everything that had been said about it throughout the years. The characters are drowning in ego at the same time the costumes and the scenery are just as rich and extravagant. Unforgettable. If those two had lived today, they’d be something close to the Kardashians or the Trumps, without a doubt. Multiple selfies and check-ins would be the daily habit. And this is why I believe this movie has held up to its concept through time. This made me remember Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s words when he received his best picture Oscar for Birdman: “Only time will tell which films become classics”. I don’t really think his movie, although quite recent, has endured this quest. However, his next effort, The Revenant, did take that very idea serious enough to arguably, become a classic.
I started to poke around my own memory and try to find more examples of this condition. Immediately the first movie that came to mind was The Silence of the Lambs. When Jonathan Demme passed, they showed it at a local theatre and I was first in line to see it. I observed how the lack of celular phones at the time (1991) didn’t get in the way to make it still a believable film; the creepiness of both villains was just intact and timeless. Definitely a big classic in my books, Silence of the Lambs will go to the top spot on my top ten personal list of classics.
I will leave out period films since they are really about punctiliously recreating a place and time in history. Of course I would have mentioned movies like Amadeus, Remains of the Day, Dangerous Liaisons, Vatel, among others, that have wonderful scripts and acting that truly make them seem as if they had opened last week.
So without much further ado, here is my personal top ten list of timeless, classic films:
10.- Teorema. Pasolini’s insightful point of view of how the 5% lives. Always craving, always lonely, as if they were born awaiting for something or someone from the outside to rattle their world to the core; kids, husband or wife included. We’ve seen some variations afterwards, like the made for Hollywood, softer Down And Out in Beverly Hills starring Bette Midler.
9.- Pulp Fiction (1994). Having a Tarantino movie here might seem predictable, but hey, this movie is 26 years old (!!!) and very single shred of story is still as believable and legit as it gets: the drugs, the junkies, the thugs, the perverts, the kingpin, even the OCD’d coffee connoisseur. Quentin’s writing at its best, I just lost count of how many times I’ve seen this during those 26 years.
8.- The Shining (1980). Several Kubrick’s films could be included in here but this one remains current enough as to have a sequel released this very year that I really don’t have to make a point over it. Theories, analysis and mysteries still surround this enigmatic film that keeps haunting me with every view.
7.- Requiem for a dream (2000). Twenty years later, every issue behind this chilling portrait of drug addiction and mental illness stays faithful to the source it was inspired on.
6.- Fargo (1996). To have a TV series based on this movie today is more than proof of the timeless true crime drama North Dakota has to offer. Frances McDormand turns every single role into an unforgettable experience that won’t vacate the mind.
5.- Misery (1990). Can anyone forget Annie Wilkes? Are the pills, the sledgehammer and the typewriter something out of our reality? Now more than ever this depiction of a fan’s obsession and the dark journey taken by her victim feels so real. No fake news here!
4.- My Own Private Idaho (1991). The first time the hustler’s real life drama and tragedy came to my attention. An independent film at the time makes it even stranger when the lives of both actors who play the main characters took a similar path in real life.
3.- Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989). Regardless of Woody Allen’s private life, his work in this movie is as vibrant and current today as it was back then. He’s proven the inner dilemmas that torment a person’s mind have been the same since centuries ago to our very present.
2.- Taxi Driver (1976). I often wonder if either DeNiro or Scorsese knew what they had accomplished with this. I suppose a true artist can only hope his latest attempt will be his best yet.
1.- The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Will never grow tired of Hannibal Lecter’s mind games or Buffalo Bill’s extremes. Goodbye Horses is a track that still plays on my Spotify’s setlists.
Some honorable mentions: The horse whisperer (1998), The Lover (1992), Alien (1979), Thesis (1996), All about my mother (1999), City of God (2002), 12 Angry Men (1957), The Verdict (1982), Tootsie (1982), Nights of Cabiria (1957), Trilogy Red White Blue (1993), Irreversible (2002), The African Queen (1952).
And of course, I also have a list of films I feel like somehow lost their modjo and their battle against time. At least some of them hold certain awards or even an unmovable place in our hearts: American Beauty (1999), The Bone Collector (1999), The Pelican Brief (1993), Flashdance (1983), Romancing the Stone (1984), Moonstruck (1987), Crash (2004), Ordinary People (1980), The French Connection (1971), Prizzi’s Honor (1985).
Agree or disagree, doesn’t matter. The point here is to let the mind wander and make memory so we can distract ourselves of this crucial and difficult time that surely resembles some kind of fiction seen before on the silver screen. Hang in there and may everything turn out the best possible way!