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From Anonymous to Woody Harrelson & Michael Moore…These Movies Will Change Your Life

  • Written by  Amber Lovejoy
Kick back with someone you want to watch a movie with… Kick back with someone you want to watch a movie with…

The vast majority of movies today are meant only to entertain. Lots of special effects, violence, car chases, crazy stuff that could never happen in real life, eye candy.  They’re not meant to tell a serious story using cinema. They’re mostly meant to make money for those who made them.

Nothing wrong with that if that’s what you want. I like entertainment-only movies if they’re done well. But I like the art of storytelling too, and I prefer movies that have something interesting to say-- movies that educate, challenge, touch my heart, help me realize something new about life.

From psychedelic action to revolution to heart-moving drama, these movies have it all…

So in that spirit, I offer these movie favorites, and I hope they’ll soon be your favorites too:

Mad Max

Before Mel Gibson was hated for being obnoxious while drunk, potentially anti-Semitic and abusive towards his baby mother, he was a talented actor and cinematic storyteller. One of his best films, and one that reminds me of what the world could become, is Mad Max. Set in Australia and featuring roving bands of machine-wielding maniacs competing for whatever’s left of a dying world, Mad Max introduced Gibson to the world and made him a star. An incredible action movie with a dystopic edge to it, about what might happen when resources run out and amped-up, drifter car-people take over.

 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

This Oscar-winning classic has so much to be praised for it’s hard to know where to start. Set in a mental institution where patients are treated like cattle and cruelly manipulated by an evil nurse, this film is a believable portrayal of how society treats people with mental disorders. But young Jack Nicholson’s stellar performance as a wily patient who rebels against a treacherous nurse and is accompanied by knockout performances from the entire cast, including a very young Danny DeVito. If you’ve ever been a rebel or wondered what society does to rebels, this powerful movie answers the question.

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko put Jake Gyllenhaal on the star map. It gives us a psychedelic-psychiatric vision of teen anger, rebellion and madness. It also dabbles in time travel. As with many intelligent films, Donnie Darko didn’t do well at the box office in movie theaters. But over time, Donnie Darko has earned the respect of movie critics and a devoted following. Most people describe it as a science fiction movie, but I see it as a sci-fi family drama, and a coming of age story. Check out Drew Barrymore, who does a great job as a hot teacher.

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Here’s a film that combines anthropology with comedy. The plot is hilarious from the start: a “primitive” native tribesman finds a Coke bottle that was thrown from an airplane. He has no idea what it is, but assumes it must be a gift from the gods. His search for the Coke bottle gods puts him into his first contact with the modern world, with amusing results that reveal how people lived strong and free before the era of electricity and machines. Make sure to watch the first movie of the series; it’s the best one.

A Clockwork Orange

One thing I love about this film is that a lot of what’s in it has come true. We witness a gang of British street thugs who sharpen themselves up on amphetamine-like drugs before embarking on nightly orgies of ultra-violent rape, pillage and plunder…all the while talking in a slang language borrowed from Russian. When the gang’s leader is imprisoned, he becomes the subject of a gruesome experiment designed to “make” him into a good person. Incredibly memorable scenes from cinematic master Stanley Kubrick make this movie a visual feast that’ll stick in your head long after the closing credits run. You’ll especially appreciate the wired-up sex scene with two girls the gang leader meets at a music store.

Darwin’s Nightmare

This documentary shows you how globalization, capitalism, the arms trade and environmental destruction combine to harm people and the planet. The moviemaker risked his life to get horrifying scenes of poverty and resilience, along with footage of the criminals, corporations, corrupt government officials, and arms smugglers who victimize Africa while helping to destroy Tanzania’s Lake Victoria.

Natural Born Killers

Take a couple of crazy kids who fall in love with each other and with murder, combine them with director Oliver Stone, and you get Natural Born Killers. This psychedelic, fast-paced road movie is a cult classic, and the over-the-top performances of Woody Harrelson and hottie Juliette Lewis as the murderous couple are just part of the reason why. Ever political and with a sharp eye for details, Stone’s movie examines violence, fame, prisons, hero worship, true love, and insanity…all the while creating one plot twist after another. With wicked music by Nine Inch Nails, and an inspiring ending that had audiences cheering, this movie is nothing like what you’d expect, and more.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Some people hate Michael Moore. But why? Michael Moore is an overweight journalist moviemaker guy from the Midwest who got angry when he saw American jobs shipped overseas, when he saw corporate executives ruining companies while being paid enormous salaries. Moore didn’t believe the official cover story for 9-11-01, or for the Iraq war. In Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore went deep. Instead of focusing just on the effects of greed, he looked for the origins of systemic, official greed. He found capitalism itself. And he shows what happens when the love of money is elevated above all other loves: Wall Street, foreclosures, layoffs, corporate criminals, billions of dollars of taxpayer money handed to banks. This movie is a documentary, but it plays like a story, and as with most Moore movies, it’s funny. One of the most hilarious moments comes in a segment about Jesus. But I’ll say no more about that, because I detest spoilers. The good news is that the movie offers workable solutions to the ravages of raw capitalism- solutions that aren’t socialism or communism.

V for Vendetta

Whenever you see Occupy Wall Street or Anonymous protesters wearing those spooky-wicked Guy Fawkes masks, you’re seeing a style inspired by V for Vendetta, a movie made by the same people who brought you The Matrix trilogy. In fact, the actor behind the mask playing V is Hugo Weaving, Agent Smith from The Matrix. Natalie Portman delivers a convincing performance as Evey, a woman who comes to respect the anti-government rebels lead by V. One of the actors in this film was once married to a real rebel, an IRA “terrorist” who tried to bring down the British government…with bombs. This film is based on an illustrated “graphic novel,” and has inspired young people to rise up against the corporate state ever since it debuted in 2006. A must-see for anyone who wants to learn how to fight back against the power structures that seek to rule us.

Some of these movies you may have seen before. Or they may at first seem old school, because they don’t rely totally on digital effects, loud noises and people shooting each other.

But give them a look. You’ll see that serious movies can be entertaining…and enlightening.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 17:14

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