Benny & Joon (1993)
Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
Cast: Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn
Benny is a mechanic who lives to care for his younger sister, Joon. She can hardly function in society on her own do to her mental illness. An eccentric young man named Sam, later finds his way into their lives and stirs up quite the commotion. Joon falls in love with Sam and when Benny is aware of their relationship he strives to keep them apart. This is a cute, yet touching film. You have an overprotective brother who fails to realize that he is depriving himself and his sister of an inevitable event, love. Benny struggles in coping with his sister’s illness, not realizing that she could be capable of a very normal life. Sam, opens that gate for the both of them. I adore this film. As I’ve said time and time again, I love movies that challenge what is to be considered normal and deal with mental illness. It truly makes you see life through a different scope. Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Sam, truly brings the light-hearted feel to the movie that makes it all the more enjoyable! Spectacular acting by all parties, add this film to your watchlist!
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Cast: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis
Gilbert Grape lives in the small town of Endora, where he works at a dying convenience store to support his younger siblings and widowed, obese mother. When Becky, a free-spirited gal arrives in town, Gilbert becomes aware of the life he is letting pass by him. He begins to feel constrained by his daily responsibilities, like caring for his youngest brother Arnie. This is a tenderly emotional film about the struggles of a young man living a below average life, just trying to survive day by day. Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio do a phenomenal job in this film. Johnny’s performance draws you into the film and you understand and feel the burdens his character carries. It’s heart-felt, beautiful and moving. This is one of those films where not much seems to happen, yet you feel connected in so many ways.
50 First Dates (2004)
Director: Peter Segal
Cast: Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider
50 First Dates is one of my top favorite romantic comedies. This film is adorable, but out-right hilarious! Henry Roth is a man living in a Hawaiian paradise with a fear of commitment. That is, until he meets Lucy Whitmore. Lucy suffers from short-term memory loss and can’t retain new information. Upon discovering this, Henry is willing to spend each day making Lucy fall in love with him over and over again. That is true love if I ever saw it. Adam Sandler’s role in 50 First Dates isn’t like anything you’ve seen before. The humor is more subtle, then his other films, but still quite effective. There’s an overall good feel to this movie and I think it deserves a watch. Enjoy!
End of Watch (2012)
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick
This film gives you a new found appreciation for the police force. This is a documentary style film that focuses on the daily lives of two LAPD officers, who are partners and good friends. There’s a perfect mixture of humor, action and drama. Although, the main focus of the film is their duties as Officers of the law, the audience gets a good glimpse of their personal lives adding a certain depth to the characters and story line. I didn’t know what to expect going into this film, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the cinematography to the script, it’s one of a kind. There isn’t a dull moment to be found, it truly reels you in! Two thumbs up!
Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
Director: Mike Newell
Cast: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles
A teacher from California brings her progressive views to a conservative college, Wellesley, and motivates these young women to be independent thinkers and question their traditional societal roles. Love, love, loved this film! Such an empowering, inspirational film for women even today. This movie takes you back to the 1950’s ideals where women only worried about the 3 C’s: cooking, cleaning and childbearing. It was an accomplishment on its own that women were then allowed to be college graduates, but being a housewife was still priority. It’s amazing to see the struggle these women fought to follow their dreams beyond the home and to break from societies shackles. Even though women have come far from those times, I believe we are still fighting very similar demons. We still struggle to find our place in a man’s world. The acting was absolutely outstanding from each party, you can truly see the endeavors each student faced as their futures approached them. Julia Roberts brought the same powerful, fight-for-your-right stigma she had in Erin Brockovich, making a difference for what she believed in. A must watch, girl power!
Le Voyage Dans La Lune (1902)
Director: George Melies
Cast: George Melies, Victor Andre, Bleutte Bernon
I felt I should pay one last tribute to George Melies by actually talking about his groundbreaking masterpiece, A Trip to the Moon. It is about a group of astronomers who set voyage to the moon, to explore and adventure in space. To think that this film was made nearly 100 years ago amazes me. It’s the first sci-fi to ever be filmed, it’s entertaining with great special effects for its time and the story is surreal and humorous. If you’re truly into the art of film and its history this is one piece you simply cannot go without. The techniques used to make this movie are still used in modern day, how amazing is that? Melies truly put his soul into his work for the film was originally filmed in black and white, but he hand painted each frame. It’s absolutely remarkable.
"A Trip to the Moon"
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee
A young orphan, Hugo, lived inside the walls of a train station located in Paris during the 1930s. In memory of his beloved father, he spends his free time repairing an automation (a mechanical man) in hopes to reveal a hidden message. This automation takes him on a journey of a lifetime to uncover many lost treasures and along the way he fixes a man’s broken soul, George Melies. I absolutely adored this film from the stunning graphics to the beautiful story. Having taken a French Cinematography class in college I was pleased to see some of those learned facts come to life on screen; it was touching. I loved the mechanical metaphor all through the film, in particular this quote,
"I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know…So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason."
-Hugo Cabaret, Hugo (2011)
This quote is the premises of the entire film. No thing or person is useless, maybe broken, but we have a purpose and if broken we can be fixed to fulfill that purpose. I think this film was highly misunderstood and only recognized for it’s stunning visual effects, but it is much more than that. The acting was heartfelt and magical. Also, I love Sacha Baron Cohen, always adding the perfect touch of humor. Honestly, we owe it to George Melies to give this film a shot because without him we wouldn’t have the extraordinary movies that we all love today.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Director: William Castle
Cast: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long
If you love older films, then this is definitely one to add to your list. A millionaire, Frederick Loren, offers 5 strangers $10,000 to stay the night in a haunted mansion with no escape until morning. The doors will be locked and the only catch is they have to survive the night. I love the scares, how paranoia alone can create such a panic and how quickly hysteria can instill fear on to others. The ending had me completely shocked. I wasn’t sure what to expect and it was certainly clever. I have heard so much about Vincent Price through the work of Tim Burton, so it was a pleasure to watch this film.
Employee of the Month (2004)
Director: Mitch Rouse
Cast: Matt Dillon, Steve Zahn, Christina Applegate
David Walsh is fired from his dream job and his beautiful fiancee, Sara, leaves him all on the same day. He’s devastated, feeling undeserving of recent events and unsure where his life will lead him now. I love all the twists and turns this movie takes. I don’t want to say it’s a slow start because all the events in the beginning and middle of the film are important for the big bang finale. It’s just that the ending is so damn good your jaw will hit the floor and it feels like forever until you get there. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t give up on this movie if you feel it’s not really going no where because it does get incredibly good and it’s totally worth the wait! Enjoy!
The Animal (2001)
Director: Luke Greenfield
Cast: Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, John C. McGinley
A hilarious film about a pretentious police officer, Marvin, who falls victim to an experimental surgery that involves the transplant of various animal parts. Watching Marvin struggle to take control of his basic animal instincts that develop after surgery is quite hysterical. Rob Schneider never fails us as a goofy character and there are constant laughs throughout the film. I, also, love the nice plot twist at the end.