The Phrontistery




Films of the Phrontistery


The list of movies below includes most of my very favourites. I would highly recommend any of them to most adults (though many of them may offend more sensitive viewers). No doubt, I could have come up with many additions to this list, and while I love to hear other people's opinions on great movies, I'll stick with my selections. All of the films listed above can be purchased through Amazon.com, of which I am an associate, by clicking on the links below. I own all of these movies or have seen them multiple times. If you have any questions about any of these films, or suggestions for other movies I might like, do not hesitate to contact me.

Being John Malkovich: A highly quirky film by Spike Jonze, an intelligent fantasy that is remarkably well-executed. Through the device of a portal that enables individuals to enter into the body of John Malkovich for 15 minutes, it explores the nature of self and mind. Numerous excellent performances, most notably from the title actor himself. MAAAALKOOOOVIIIICH!
Brazil: Terry Gilliam's first truly mature film - a comically dark look at a dystopian future England where bureaucracy runs amok. It is a bleak and black satire that almost never got released, being ironically rejected by studio executives for its worldview. Today, it is swiftly on its way to becoming a cult classic.
A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess' classic novel of the same name. The movie and book both have their points of interest (I prefer the movie, personally) but share a fundamentally pessimistic attitude about the ability to mould individuals through science. Very mature matter - not for the faint of heart.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Probably the best Chinese martial arts fantasy (wuxia genre) film ever to reach a broad Western market. While the effects are incredible, the movie would be nothing without its intelligent dialogue and gentle - even understated - performances from Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh, which is a testament to director Ang Lee's talent. The soundtrack by Yo Yo Ma is exquisite.
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb: Kubrick's first masterpiece, and perhaps his greatest. A dark satire on the perils of nuclear war and military incompetence, as timely today as it was forty years ago. The performances by George C. Scott and Slim Pickens, while excellent, cannot compare to the talent of Peter Sellers in playing three distinct and essential characters, including the title role.
Fight Club: An unabashedly over-the-top take on masculine stereotypes and violence in the postmodern world. The basic premise of white-collar men fighting one another in underground boxing matches barely scratches the surface of this movie, which presents anarchy and social decay in a disturbingly surreal manner. Action-packed and darkly humorous.
Life Of Brian: The best of the Monty Python films and the most controversial. Life of Brian is a satire on religious fanaticism of all sorts. It tells the story of Brian of Nazareth, born in Roman Judea one December eve and mistaken for a messiah by his hapless followers. It is incredibly funny in the intellectual way for which Python is known.
Memento: This extremely interesting and important film is the first major film by Christopher Nolan, and in my opinion his most interesting one. It tells the story of a man who has lost the ability to form long-term memories, using the gimmick of short scenes told from the ending backwards to the beginning. It is unnerving and engrossing at the same time, and undoubtedly worth many viewings.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Collector's : The compelling tale of one man's resistance to conformity and the establishment within the confines of a mental asylum, played admirably by Jack Nicholson. Based on the groundbreaking novel by Ken Kesey, this movie practically swept the Oscars, and remains remarkably poignant.
Seven: A film noir bordering on dark psychological horror. Some of the most disturbing scenes ever filmed in Hollywood are found in this movie, which is many notches above the average serial killer / detective story. It explores with intellectual depth the nature of sin and is difficult viewing even for the steeliest of viewers.
The Shawshank Redemption: Probably the best movie adapted from the fiction of Stephen King. This carefully paced and subtle story about a man's efforts to retain hope after having been convicted of murders he didn't commit is not flashy, but is unforgettable and demands a second viewing. This film highlights Morgan Freeman's reserved acting style very well.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: This crass send-up of movie musicals is a small gem that unfortunately will be rejected by those who find its humour infantile or who reject animated film on principle. While it's not for everyone, those with a slightly off-kilter sense of humour and tolerance for profanity will find it hilarious.
12 Monkeys: A modern classic science-fiction film by Terry Gilliam - thus visually ingenious, darkly humorous, and sharply satirical. An apocalyptic tale of one man's efforts to redeem himself and humanity by using time travel to prevent a plague from forcing humanity into underground hovels, it works on many levels, and is very entertaining.
The Usual Suspects: As far as I'm concerned, the best of the modern film noir genre and the best movie of the 1990s, featuring a stunning performance by Kevin Spacey as part of a star-studded ensemble cast. The twist ending should blow you away, but the pacing and performances in this thriller are enough to satisfy any audience.
Bon Cop Bad Cop: This linguistically-oriented Canadian farcical buddy-cop movie plays with all the conventions of the genre. It is bilingual (with subtitles in English or French) but can be appreciated by anyone; those who know French or appreciate Canadian culture will find this gem to be essential.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Widescreen Edition): Ridiculously tasteless send-up of American social life and mores from Sacha Baron Cohen, whose eponymous protagonist Borat travels America getting into all sorts of situations with all sorts of unwitting Americans. The humor is perhaps best described as 'bracing' - even as one knows that it is pure satire, it can be wonderfully uncomfortable to watch.
Donnie Darko: Once upon a time this might have been described as a 'cult' film but I suspect it has leached into the popular consciousness sufficiently over the past decade, if only because it was Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal's breakout film. A psychologically challenging, wonderful dark fantasy, it touches on questions of mental illness, social isolation, and quantum physics.
Galaxy Quest (Deluxe Edition): By Grabthar's hammer, what a movie! Even if you are not a Star Trek fan, you will be amused by this sci-fi parody that won both a Hugo and a Nebula - attesting to its popularity among the very population it satirizes. Tim Allen is actually quite good in his Shatneresque role, and Alan Rickman is, as usual, amazing.
Inglourious Basterds: So everyone has an opinion on Quentin Tarantino and it is trendy these days to be a hater, or so it seems. This military revenge tale is, in my view, one of his best, not only for the performance of Christoph Waltz (who won an Academy Award for his work) but also for its extremely strong script.
Spirited Away: I will confess to being a fan of all of Hayao Miyazaki's work, and this Japanese animated classic is probably his best. The artistic style and animation are, of course, incredible, as everything from Studio Ghibli is, but I like it best for the amazing world-building in the fantastic setting.
Best In Show: This mockumentary from Christopher Guest is perhaps not as well-known or well-appreciated as This is Spinal Tap from fifteen years earlier, but it is every bit as good and certainly better-acted. Anyone who has ever owned a dog or wished they owned a dog will wish they owned this movie.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil: Despite its appearances, this is not a mockumentary, but an actual documentary about the 1980s Canadian thrash-metal band Anvil as they try to revive their band's deeply waning fortunes. In turns poignant and hilarious, the film's success ironically did what decades of hard work could not, which is to bring the band to international attention.
Groundhog Day: When it came out in 1993, this film about a man trapped in an eternally looping February 2 was treated by viewers and reviewers alike as a funny but unremarkable piece. In the two decades since it has come to be regarded as one of the classics of the latter part of the century and perhaps Bill Murray's best film. Watch it ... again and again and again ...
Quiz Show: If, like me, you have ever dreamed of fame and fortune by going on a nationally-broadcast trivia show, you will think twice after watching this historical drama about the Twenty One quiz show scandal of the 1950s. Both John Turturro and Ralph Fiennes shine in this troubling film about the corruption of fame and deception in the media.


I hope you have found this site to be useful. If you have any corrections, additions, or comments, please contact me. Please note that I am not able to respond to all requests. Please consult a major dictionary before e-mailing your query. All material on this page © 1996-2014 Stephen Chrisomalis. Links to this page may be made without permission.

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