Monday, November 14, 2011

Top 5 Movies That Have Influenced My Life - DionysusPsyche

By DionysusPsyche

1. The Shape of Things and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Yes, I have a tie for first. These movies teach two sides of the same coin, and both are equally important to use as guides when romantically involved.
In The Shape of Things, manipulation, intrigue, and submission dominate a college guy who dates a woman unlike anyone else he knows. This film will make you question every relationship you have, and make you ask yourself whether relationships have value for what you sacrifice. It will teach you that the past is the past and to hold on to pieces of yourself that are truly you.

The first time I saw this movie, I thought about it for two or three days in a row. I remember the day of the week I watched it, where I watched it, and how late it was when the movie ended. Runner up: The Secretary (for different reasons)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind follows Joel, a shy mouse of a man who dates rebellious and exciting Clementine. Yet, she erases him from her mind which prompts him to spontaneously decide to erase her from his. As the process happens, he regrets his hasty decision and tries to save her in any way he can. Contrastly, this film asks us which relationships are worth saving? Would we do things differently the second time around? Should we try things again or should we move on?

 The first time I watched Eternal Sunshine, I had just broken up with my first serious boyfriend. Watching the film made me consider certain things about our relationship that were terribly matched and certain parts that were good. The Shape of Things validates break ups while Eternal Sunshine makes you optimistic for second chances.  Runner up: 500 Days of Summer and High Fidelity

WARNING! Not to be watched back to back.

2. Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
Best friends face their high school reunion and come up with lies to convince their graduating class that they are rich and successful. They try a number of wacky shenanigans that had me in stitches.

This movie helped me realize that worrying about being popular was a giant waste of time, and it was more fun to do your own thing. Not being liked best wasn't the end of the world. The ones out to get you will probably end up with lives that suck more than yours. Having friends you can count on and the motivation to change your life for the better are most important. The right people to impress are the ones who already love you--get over the bullshit of cliques. Something every kid should watch before going to high school. Not as dark as movies like Heathers or Jawbreaker, although if you have teenage girls, they should totally watch those as well (the moral being the school's most famous shouldn't get there by ruining the lives of others, or you know, killing them). Runner up: Mean Girls, and Empire Records

3. I Heart Huckabees
Are we connected to everything or nothing? Much less abstract than What the Bleep Do We Know, and it delves into existentialism, herd mentality, and people embracing capitalism and fame over self-discovery/improvement. The main character is going through an existential crisis, but with the help of three detectives/therapists and friend, he can move through it. Includes such awesome actors as Jason Schwartzman, Dustin Hoffman, and Mark Wahlberg. Oh, and Naomi Watts' memorable line.

I first watched this film while I was studying psychology in college, and I think about it every time I watch an Old Navy commercial. I love how the characters are inexplicably tied together even if they absolutely hate each other, and how they're forced to interact despite their mutual loathing. The question whether anything or everything is connected is such an interesting concept, and Hoffman showing the blanket theory is great. The pure ball being is excellent, but for laughter's purposes.

4. Thank You for Smoking
Everyone has skills, has to pay a mortgage, and some of the most charming people are the scum of the earth. What happens when the scum of the earth screws with politics and regulations? Who's more likely to make a deal with the devil?

In life, not every bad guy is all bad and no good guy is all good. No one ends up with a perfect job, and none of us escape being reeled in by snake charmers. It also makes you really glad that Nick Naler's boss isn't yours. Nick Naler can't live a double life, but he also has to do the right thing. You have to stand up for what you believe, and everyone has the right to free speech, unfortunately even the people/corporations you HATE.

5. Reefer Madness the Musical!
Based on the original movie and eerily similar to it, Reefer Madness tackles propaganda and assumptions that sound like fact through its over the top/cheesy musical numbers, incredible cast, and unforgettable dialogue. Does government really know best? Are the best ways to keep children from drugs by using scare tactics and misinformation? Does reading Shakespeare lead to immoral values?

The thing about this movie is that in a lot of ways it really does reveal how direct marketing works and how toxic addiction can be, but it also makes you intensely aware of how ridiculous it all is. The ability to wave off peer pressure in this movie is non-existent which makes it just that much better. My favorite quotation was, "A little orphan girl once told me the sun will come out tomorrow. Her father was a powerful billionaire so I suppressed the urge to laugh in her face."

None of the above movies are overly preachy (with the possible exception of Reefer Madness which is intentional and still worth watching if for no other reason than the brief cartoon sequence). Each of these films not only provided a good sounding board for ideas but also answered questions and caused me to reflect more on areas of my life that required more thought than I was putting into them. I hope that others enjoy them as well!


    1. Romy and Michele's High School Reunion is such an awesome movie. It deserves so much more praise and here I am, not even able to track it down on DVD. Admittedly, I haven't tried in a while.
      Loved your thoughts on it!

    2. Thanks! I totally agree, I believe it deserved more praise as well. I own it on dvd. I think I got it through Best Buy.