OPEN POST: What 4 Films Define You?

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brian-mcgee - April 20, 2018

Everyone's got their favorite movies, but streaming service Filmstruck has recently posed a question which I find rather interesting: What are the four films that define you. It's an interesting question to ponder, and I wanted to open it up to our readers and find out what your Filmstruck4 are, as it's become known on the internet...

In the interest of opening things up, I'll share what I feel my Filmstruck4 are.

It should come as no surprise that the four films I feel define me are about outsiders, weirdos, outcasts, geniuses, eccentrics, and those living on the fringes of normal society. People who seek the things that we all seek: Home, comfort, love, fame, security, respect, and recognition, but do it in their own strange ways.

I somehow avoided Star Wars movies, because while I love them, I don't really think any of them "define" me, so to speak. These four films defined my worldview and continue to do so. I've seen these four films countless times, could recite them to you if you let me, and yet I've never grown tired of any of them. They're all masterpieces in their own way, and all of them speak to my soul on a much deeper level than other films.

The Wizard of Oz

Both The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory were the films of my childhood. I watched them over and over. I took the beat up VHS copies I had to college with me. But it's Oz that resonates with me more as an adult. It's a deeply strange film, for one thing, likely the product of having no fewer than five directors—though only Victor Fleming got the credit. Its transition from black and white to color remains among the most ingrained images on my brain, and as a college student, discovering the film's first 45 minutes are synchable to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, only enhanced my college experience.

As a parent now, the film means more to me. Its humor is undeniably timeless—particularly the brilliant Frank Morgan as the big cheese himself. Its message of helping yourself by helping others appeals to my bleeding heart. The songs are witty, catchy, and "Over the Rainbow" might just be the most beautiful song ever written. I don't need to extoll its virtues other than to say that I've loved this film throughout my entire life, and always for different reasons.



Everybody's got a guy or gal in film history who is their guy or gal. From the first time I laid eyes on Max Fischer, I knew he was my guy. For better or worse, he's probably the protagonist I most identify with in all of film. He's my Holden Caufield, my Luke Skywalker, my fill in your own specific example here. The leading character of Rushmore is what's kindly referred to as an old soul. He falls in love with a woman twice his age. His best friends are a ten year old kid and a middle aged steel tycoon.

As someone who grew up loving Peanuts, in particular the character of Linus, I am obviously enamored with Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson's creation that owes a huge debt to Charles Schulz's creation. Max was ambitious and had the drive to do absolutely anything he wanted to, but overextends himself to the point where he ends up half-assing most everything. There's no shortage of Max in me, and in many of us, and it makes this film speak to me. I root for Max in a way I root for no other protagonist in film. He's me. He's all of us.



The thing I love most about the dearly departed Milos Forman's Oscar winning film Amadeus is that it's perhaps the only film in history to heed Homer Simpson's advice of "less artsy, more fartsy." It's the high minded period piece you've been avoiding your entire life because you don't realize it's actually a bawdy, filthy, funny, brilliantly made film that I often cite as the greatest film ever made.

You look at Amadeus and your inner jock comes out. You wanna push yourself into a row of lockers while yelling, "Shut up nerd!" But I urge you not to be fooled. It's a movie with tons of filthy language, hysterical jokes, and an absolutely intense drama of a man trying to triumph over God. It's heady stuff, but it's couched in this film that plays like an 80s comedy for most of its first two acts. It's a masterstroke of filmmaking and deserving of every bit of praise that's ever been heaped on it.

I grew up with this flick and it made a huge impact on my humor, along with Monty Python, The Marx Brothers, and many many more. This is an art house movie that appeals to literally everyone. It's the movie they're talking about when they say, "They don't make 'em like they used to." Or at least it's the one I'm talking about.


Grey Gardens

The notion that real life could be as entertaining as any scripted film is one of which I've always been leery. Reality TV doesn't do much for me, but that same impulse that drives people to watch The Bachelor or Survivor drives me to a handful of documentaries that I feel fulfill the adage well. Mark and Mike in American Movie were strong contenders for this spot, as was Robert Evans' The Kid Stays in the Picture. But my favorite documentary features two of my favorite people I've ever encountered in a film.

"Little" Edie Bouvier Beale and her mother "Big" Edie Beale live in the titular mansion, which has been worn down by twenty plus years of neglect when we meet them in the early 1970s. The Maysles Brothers—famous at that point for their documentary Gimme Shelter, about the Rolling Stones at Altamont—found the women living in squalor, but like the co-leads in a Tennessee Williams play, the two rise to dramatic heights as their bizarrely loving relationship is chronicled.

It's a stunning piece of work from master documentarians, and you'll absolutely fall in love with these two women. The HBO version with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange is great, but watch the real deal first. You'll end up as much in love with them as I. Hell, I named one of my cats Little Edie. There's no denying this has been an influential film on my life.

How About YOU?

Alright commenters, get to commenting! What's your Flimstruck4? What nits do you have to pick with mine? Sound off already!

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