Regular readers of The Movie Files are undoubtedly aware of my love for all things “list”. Since my introduction on The LAMB (Large Association of Movie Blogs), I have been checking out more film blogs, and happened upon a meme that passed me by last year. It is entitled “Desert Island DVDs“, and is the brainchild of Fandango from “Fandango Groovers Movie Blog” (also the creator of the “My Life in Movies” meme, which I will fill out soon).
The fact that this was created over a year ago is secondary to how fun a concept I think it is, and the fact that it is the exact thing I love doing: creating lists. I will post the rules of the game below, and then my response.
“Imagine yourself stranded on a desert island. You have a DVD player and TV, but only eight movies to watch on it. Not knowing how long until you are rescued, you may have to watch them over and over again. Which eight movies would you pick?”
This was a lot more difficult than I anticipated coming in. It wasn’t just about listing my favorite eight films (which these are not, necessarily), but finding films that I could happily watch over and over, and ones that would contrast with each other enough so as not to get sick of any of them quickly. Yes, I took it that seriously. Without further ado, here are my Desert Island DVDs, which happened to fit into categories that I’ve labeled below (in no particular order):
1. Mallrats (1995 dir. Kevin Smith)
My comedy pick. Mallrats has been one of those films that I could watch on a consistent basis for years. Though I used to cite Clerks as my favorite Kevin Smith film, the third time I watched through Mallrats, I fell in love. Clerks is wonderful, but there is something about Mallrats that gives it a bit more staying power. It probably has something to do with Brodie’s love for beating the Canucks with Whalers on NHL All-Star Hockey on his Sega Saturn.
2. Signs (2004 – dir. M. Night Shyamalan)
My “I Don’t Care What You Say” pick. M. Night’s masterpiece (as far as I’m concerned) made my list during the 30-day horror meme as my guilty pleasure, and anyone who knows me had to expect it would be going with me to my desert island. The way Shyamalan blends the “everything happens for a reason” theme with the believable, engaging story of the Hess family, with scary-as-hell aliens tossed into the mix never stops blowing me away. Repeated viewings can’t ruin this film for me, and this would absolutely end up on my top 25 movies list, if I ever get around to making one.
3. Heavyweights (1995 – dir. Steven Brill)
My childhood pick. I used to watch this film every day over the summer when I was in elementary school, and having watched it again recently, I know that I would need this if I were trapped on an island. When I was younger, all the way through my undergraduate collegiate days, I was always a (very) large guy, which is probably why this film resonated with me so much during my youth. It wasn’t until recently that I realized why I enjoyed the writing on Heavyweights so much: it was written by now-insanely popular Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Fun With Dick and Jane). Nobody is making films like Heavyweights anymore, which is a shame because it is perfect family fun.
4. Zodiac (2007 – dir. David Fincher)
My drama/serial killer pick. I have had a fascination with serial killers since high school, taking a class on the very subject in college (entitled “Serial Killers”). Anyone who buys into M. Night’s “everything happens for a reason” way of life could say that my interest in serial killers was because I would one day be cast as one, as is the case in September, when I will play serial killer Dan Reach in Lee Blessing’s Down the Road. Everyone else will just say that I am weird. Either way, I have always found serial killers fascinating, and no movie on the subject has effected me quite like Zodiac. Three of my favorite actors – Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. – team up with one of my favorite film directors – David Fincher – to deliver the epic tale of America’s most notorious, still-unknown serial killer, and the result is nothing short of extraordinary. The cinematography is stunning, and the acting is top-notch. Anytime I watch this with someone new, I am blown away when they are not as enthralled as I am. Zodiac is one of my favorite films, and one I must take with me to my little island of paradise/hell.
5. South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (1999 – dir. Trey Parker)
My animation/musical pick. As a guy who didn’t grow up watching many of the most popular Disney films, I sure love animation today. South Park, Family Guy, American Dad, and the new Bob’s Burgers are some of my favorite shows on television. I also have a love for musicals, given my background in musical theatre. Combine the two, and what do you get? The greatest animated musical ever conceived: South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut. With classics like “Blame Canada”, “Kyle’s Mom’s a Bitch”, “What Would Brian Boitano Do?”, and “I’m Super”, the South Park musical is a blast to sit through over and over again. South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut is not only one of my favorite animated movies, musicals, and South Park releases, but one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen.
6. Zombieland (2009 – dir. Ruben Fleischer)
Speaking of one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, here is my zombie pick. Though I’ve only seen Zombieland once, it struck a strong enough chord with me that it trumped the other stellar zombie films I’ve grown to love, and landed with me on my desert island. This is another reason why Emma Stone is one of the coolest – and sexiest – actresses in Hollywood right now. She and Jesse Eisenberg are great together, and Woody Harrelson is perfectly cast. My favorite part, though, has the be the job done by Abigail “the insanely cute little girl from Signs” Breslin. I had no idea she was in the movie until I watched it, and was ecstatic to see that her acting skills have done nothing but improve since 2004’s Signs. Any fan of zombie films, or comedies, absolutely needs to see this movie, which is why I will hug it every night while I’m on my island.
7. The Dark Knight (2008 – dir. Christopher Nolan)
My action/super-hero pick. It may not be “cool” to say anymore, but The Dark Knight is one of the greatest action hero films ever released. Christopher Nolan’s film is so much more than just a comic book adaptation; it’s the comic book adaptation to which all other’s are measured against. Nolan made it okay to go dark with superheroes, and comic book fans/action movies fans are all the better for it. Dark Knight is a wonderfully twisted look at one of the most notorious evil villains in all of comic books: the Joker. Heath Ledger puts on the performance of a lifetime (and some argue that the Joker stole his life away), and one that no one who has seen the film will ever forget. Iron Man, and (Edward Norton’s) The Incredible Hulk were both great superhero films in my estimation, but I see The Dark Knight being at the top of my list for a long time to come.
8. The Descent (2005 – dir. Neil Marshall)
My horror pick. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t bring my favorite horror film along for the trip! I already praised The Descent back in 30-day horror meme, so I won’t rehash what I wrote there. I will say, though, that if you still haven’t seen this film, and you are a horror fan, you are doing yourself a major disservice. Few horror films out there genuinely scare me to the core, but The Descent does just that. When the sun sets on that desert island, I want nothing more than to have the living hell scared out of me by some sightless, underground demons.
Those are my eight selections. The biggest surprise to myself: half of them are comedies, and only one is a true horror film! Which 8 movies would you take with you if you were trapped on a desert island?
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.
Wow, people are still doing these, I set it up a year ago. I have never seen Heavyweights and hate Signs other than that a great list.