Movies for Every Mood

 

imageSeeing a movie in a theater can be an amazing experience — something I hope we don’t lose due to either economics or (misplaced) safety concerns — but it’s generally impractical to see a film repeatedly in theaters, especially one that strikes your particular mood. For that, the home is infinitely superior.

We’ve talked many times about what the best movies are — either artistically or in terms of values — but I’d also like to explore what movies members enjoy under different circumstances. Don’t worry so much about whether a given film is actually the best or even the best-suited to a given circumstance, and feel free either to use my categories or invent your own.

Happiness: The Gods Must Be Crazy

On paper, this film shouldn’t work. Its three (four?) subplots are tonally discordant — how many PG-rated comedies open with a 15-minute documentary-style anthropology lesson followed by an assassination scene (with fatalities) played for laughs? — and the Rousseauian depiction of the Bushmen is probably as accurate as Wodehouse’s portrayal of the British aristocracy. It is, however, one of the funniest and sweetest films I’ve ever watched: my grandmother and I used to get caught in hysterics during the Land Rover scenes, and the last 30 seconds make me tear-up every single time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_AdOJoZJPI

Ignore the sequels.

Goofy/Fun: O, Brother Where Art Thou?

Another film that makes little sense on paper, the Cohen Brothers grafted allusions to The Odyssey onto a story about a depression-era prison escape, with an enormous helping of folk, spiritual, and bluegrass music. Clooney is very, very funny as the leading man; the cinematography and post-production work is simply stunning, the music superb, and the script just gets funnier and more clever with each viewing.

And how many movies can take the line “Them sirens did this to Pete. They loved him up and turned him into a … horny toad” and make it work?

Romantic: Persuasion (1995)

Austen’s final novel has higher stakes than some of its predecessors — one never really worries for Elizabeth Bennett, for instance — and I find the results more powerful. Made in the heyday of 1990s Austenmania, this film didn’t get a lot of notice, which is a shame given how well-crafted and superbly acted it is: Amanda Root’s portrayal of Anne’s growth from depression to confidence is nothing short of spectacular, and Ciarán Hinds’ performance just goes to show how the guy improves everything he touches. The scene where the two of them talk in the opera lobby has more romantic tension than almost anything I’ve ever seen.

Re-watching really pays off with this one: there’s some incredibly deft work happening in the background, and the supporting cast shines all the more when you can pay attention.

Unfortunately, both of the promos available on YouTube are painfully — fatally — over-produced and what clips there are tend to turn into fan-made music videos. This one, at least, gives a flavor of Hinds’s contribution.

Contemplative: A Man For All Seasons

This should need little introduction, but the combination of Robert Bolt’s script and Scofield’s performance — with some strong assists — makes for an amazing depiction of the costs and importance of integrity.

Brooding: LA Confidential

It’s well-worn territory, but I can’t think of a film that better depicts the shine, promise, and rot of 1950s Los Angeles than this. Featuring (genuinely) star-making performances from both Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce — as well as an excellent one from Kevin Spacey, just as he was hitting his stride — this has the added benefit of two excellently choreographed shoot-outs and a noir plot that actually makes more sense on repeated viewings.

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  1. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    For my wife The Princess Bride for all occasions.

    • #1
  2. Mike Hubbard Inactive
    Mike Hubbard
    @MikeHubbard

    And if you’re feeling like politics—and prefer wit to gore—try The Lion in Winter.

    Bone to pick: Thomas More wasn’t particularly saintly until he was out of power and facing execution.  Indeed, the wry, ironic More probably got the job because a man who only spanked his children with feathers seemed unlikely to be a hardliner on matters of faith.  But as Lord Chancellor, More had no trouble sentencing heretics to be executed.  Most of them were pardoned by none other than King Henry VIII, who knew even then that he might be breaking with Rome and might need some intellectual firepower from the heretics.  A Man for All Seasons is nice but softens up More too much—and makes King Henry more of a cartoonish villain than he was.

    • #2
  3. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    This is fun….I saw The Gods Must Be Crazy eons ago – had a huge following! Here are a few of my recent favorites:

    Adventure / Thriller: Love anything James Bond – the last movie SKYFALL was the best one ever, plus a changing of the old guard to new. Can’t wait for the new one coming out called “SPECTRE”.

    History / Mystery: The Book Thief – saw on TV, spectacular acting, scenery, message. Best line of the movie: Words are life.

    Comedy: Horrible Bosses – saw on TV – was so so funny! 3 guys abused by their bosses and set out for revenge. Good movie when you want to just laugh.

    http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi4000947481/

    All time favorite classic: It’s a Wonderful Life – needs no introduction.

    • #3
  4. MikeHs Inactive
    MikeHs
    @MikeHs

    I liked Persuasion for many of the same reasons.  Anne’s father and sister are great as clueless dolts.  “Retrench?”  It’s also interesting (and I’m not an Austenite to know the reasons) that the Royal Navy men in this are all clearly the most competent and humane people to be found.  That was refreshing during the Nineties movies’ typical take on many in the military.

    • #4
  5. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    Gladiator and Les Miserables.

    • #5
  6. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    Local Hero – for myriad reasons.

    • #6
  7. MikeHs Inactive
    MikeHs
    @MikeHs

    I’ll add this:

    Perseverance (or “Hang tough and stick it out. We may not be the ones finishing the job, but somebody will, based on our sacrifices.”)

    One of my all-time favorites, John Ford’s “They Were Expendable.

    It has its corny and exaggerated moments, for sure as a product of the time, but Ford and cast perfectly capture All-American resolve, guts and humanity that we needed in the early stages of WWII when the Japanese Empire was kicking our -you-know-whats all over the Pacific, with no end in sight.  Good for people today to remember that there was a time when we weren’t sure we would win World War II.

    John Wayne does his usual John Wayne as a tempestuous young PT Boat officer, but his chemistry with co-star Donna Reed (who is terrific on her own) is great.  There’s a wordless scene deep in the tunnels of Corregidor with Reed and an army doctor that is quite powerful.

    John Ford’s cast of character actors are all great in this. I love this movie.

    • #7
  8. She Member
    She
    @She

    Agree with almost everything so far, but.

    Casablanca, anytime. The Marseillaise scene is the only movie scene that makes me cry every time I watch it, and I’ve probably seen it 40 times.

    Beyond that, any movie that we watch with my seven year old granddaughter. It doesn’t really matter what the film is (she adores The Music Man–the real one, not the fake one from a few years ago–she loves Bringing Up Baby, she is discovering Star Wars 4 through 6, and she loves anything she considers a “pretty dancing movie,” which includes things like White Christmas and Easter Parade.)

    She is a force multiplier for movie enjoyment. It’s impossible not to have fun when she’s around.

    • #8
  9. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    MikeHs: nne’s father and sister are great as clueless dolts.

    Agreed. I noticed after writing this that Corin Redgrave — plays sir Walter in Persuasion — was also in the clip from A Man For All Seasons.

    If you get a chance to watch the movie again, pay close attention right at the end. Sir Walter’s “Anne? You want to marry Anne? Whatever for?” is so funny that it’s easy to miss Captain Harville’s gap-jawed look in response.

    • #9
  10. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Mike Hubbard: Bone to pick: Thomas More wasn’t particularly saintly until he was out of power and facing execution.  Indeed, the wry, ironic More probably got the job because a man who only spanked his children with feathers seemed unlikely to be a hardliner on matters of faith.  But as Lord Chancellor, More had no trouble sentencing heretics to be executed.  Most of them were pardoned by none other than King Henry VIII, who knew even then that he might be breaking with Rome and might need some intellectual firepower from the heretics.  A Man for All Seasons is nice but softens up More too much—and makes King Henry more of a cartoonish villain than he was.

    Agreed on the historicity.

    • #10
  11. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    She: Casablanca, anytime. The Marseillaise scene is the only movie scene that makes me cry every time I watch it, and I’ve probably seen it 40 times.

    Should have made my list. :)

    • #11
  12. MikeHs Inactive
    MikeHs
    @MikeHs

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    MikeHs: nne’s father and sister are great as clueless dolts.

    Agreed. I noticed after writing this that Crispin Redgrave — plays sir Walter in Persuasion — was also in the clip from A Man For All Seasons.

    If you get a chance to watch the movie again, pay close attention right at the end. Sir Walter’s “Anne? You want to marry Anne? Whatever for?” is so funny that it’s easy to miss Captain Harville’s gap-jawed look in response.

    Yes, you’re right.

    • #12
  13. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    I’ll just list some of my favorites.

    Dr. Strangelove, 12 Angry Men (original), Terminator 2, The Incredibles, M, Tombstone, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Contact, Stripes, The Princess Bride, Groundhog Day, The Day the Earth Stood Still (original), The Thing (original), Gravity, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Office Space.

    My favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard.

    • #13
  14. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    You’ve Got Mail.  Just because.

    • #14
  15. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    When I want to watch something endearing and uplifting, I take out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  The casting is just perfect (all the kids, even Draco Malfoy, are terminal cute), the story shows good defeating evil, and this movie made me a Harry Potter addict.  And that movie was, in my opinion, the best one of the lot.

    It’s animated, but the anime series Please Save My Earth is one we bring out and watch periodically.  That was my first introduction to anime (Ray is a big fan), and the story is interesting, and the characters exciting.

    • #15
  16. Brandon Phelps Member
    Brandon Phelps
    @

    Quirky and Funny category:

    Wristcutters

    Lets just say Tom Waits plays a devil who almost accidentally gets run over by the protagonist while laying in the road in the Mohave desert at night. But it is the Mohave desert in a purgatory for people who have committed suicided. This world is like our own, except it is just a little bit worse.

    • #16
  17. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Secondhand Lions. Priceless family flick.

    • #17
  18. Katie O Inactive
    Katie O
    @KatieO

    The title made me think of movies you can watch in any mood. So, I’m running with that as a category.
    Musicals! They touch a chord in every category from fun and romantic to contemplative and dramatic. Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof are two of my favorites.

    • #18
  19. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    Thank you, Katie O, you brought to mind Astaire/Rogers flicks!  (Any one).  Good cheer!

    • #19
  20. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Katie O: Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof are two of my favorites.

    Fiddler is a tragedy in my world.

    • #20
  21. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Vertigo is the one movie I watch annually.

    • #21
  22. Katie O Inactive
    Katie O
    @KatieO

    I agree it is a tragedy.  Somehow, for me, musicals are a better representation of real life and human emotion than drama, romance, or comedy.

    • #22
  23. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Owen Findy: My favorite Christmas movie is Die Hard.

    You might enjoy the title song of this album (warning: language).

    • #23
  24. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Young Frankenstein does it for me. What would be the category…insanity?

    Blazing Saddles may have more quotable lines, and I love the interplay between Taggart and Hedy, I mean Hedley, Lamarr. But YF remains Mel Brooks’s masterpiece.

    https://youtu.be/w1FLZPFI3jc

    • #24
  25. Crabby Appleton Inactive
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    goofy/fun: Raising Arizona

    Romantic : Shakespeare In Love

    happiness: Millions (by the same guy who did Trainspotting and Shallow Grave – Go figure!)

    • #25
  26. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive
    Great Ghost of Gödel
    @GreatGhostofGodel

    Too much work to enumerate genres/explanations, so here’s a selection of what I own:

    • Buckaroo Banzai
    • 2001
    • The Hunt for Red October
    • The Lord of the Rings
    • Alien Anthology
    • Memento
    • Brazil
    • Men in Black
    • The Full Monty
    • The Zero Effect
    • The Bourne Trilogy
    • The Matrix Trilogy

    OK, a few random notes:

    Watch Hunt for Red October anytime you need a tight, sweet reminder of what’s at stake for political refugees from repressive regimes. Larry Ferguson took Tom Clancy’s somewhat muddled, understated motivation for Capt. Ramius (Lithuanian pride? Crappy medical care killed his wife? Red October as first-strike weapon?), distilled it to the first-strike issue, and gave us the wonderful “State to state.” “No papers?” “No papers.” and “I would have liked to have seen Montana.” between Connery and O’Neill that is both the moral and emotional heart of the film. Bonus: Ferguson also plays the Chief of the Boat! That Basil Poledouris’ “Hymn to Red October” gives me goosebumps every time is a bonus.

    Shout-out to Carrie-Anne Moss for being cast in “Memento” and saying to Christopher Nolan “You should cast Joey Pants.” Seriously, could anyone but Joey Pants have done that role?

    If you don’t watch closely, you might miss that Ian Holm appears in this list three times, the characters are so wildly different.

    Bourne: I love how when TSHTF, he gets very still and deliberate. Julia Stiles is the sexiest woman in Hollywood and horribly underutilized, though.

    The Full Monty: best feature-length meditation on masculine vulnerability ever.

    • #26
  27. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive
    Great Ghost of Gödel
    @GreatGhostofGodel

    Fricosis Guy:Young Frankenstein does it for me. What would be the category…insanity?

    Blazing Saddles may have more quotable lines, and I love the interplay between Taggart and Hedy, I mean Hedley, Lamarr. But YF remains Mel Brooks’s masterpiece.

    Minor credit nit: the entire “Puttin’ On the Ritz” scene, which Mel Brooks thought was stupid, was Gene Wilder’s idea. Credit where credit where credit is due: Mel himself said so afterwards.

    • #27
  28. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Family:  The Princess Bride and Ella Enchanted.

    • #28
  29. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: You might enjoy the title song of this album (warning: language).

    Thanks, Tom.  I enjoyed that.  I especially like her strong, bell-clear pronunciation of the last syllable of the [CoC] refrain.

    • #29
  30. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Owen Findy: Thanks, Tom.  I enjoyed that.  I especially like her strong, bell-clear pronunciation of the last syllable of the [CoC] refrain.

    Marian’s a real talent. You might also — now that I think of it — enjoy her Firefly-inspired album.

    • #30
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