7. Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000)
Erin Brockovich is probably not the best representation of female underdogs in film, not because there is something lacking with the real life, blushing heroine it was based from, no, but because of the film itself, and its expiring gleam.
The Erin Brockovich of the movie is infused with a dusky sassiness and a placid torpidity. She walks on imported air of sweet reverie, swiveling her alluring red, curly hair, so crunchy with hair spray that if you were to caress it, your hand would probably get stuck in that river of solidified lava beams. Her boobs are always showing, they arrest glances with their rustling murmurs of carnal prosperity, wrapped around and promenading inside subdued necklines of thoughtful sadness.
We have to learn how to like her. We have to sink into her vague contemplation and try to be amused by her routinely sacrifices. And when we finally do it, we are still left lingering and rambling and sprawling among crystalized thoughts of doubt. Who am I actually rooting for in this movie, the character of Erin Brockovich or the persona of Julia Roberts?
The courtroom drama of the film is never the focal spotlight of attention; it is actually more of a silent cipher, in comparison to the sepia tones that portray the human injustice and decay this woman faces day by day.
Erin Brockovich, the film itself, moves briskly between the edges of melodramatic cliché and narrative exquisiteness. It is indeed, this artifact of extremism, which makes the narrative so pleasing to watch from time to time.
Still, if they were to span this story of fairy retribution into a longer stretch and profounder look onto the female protagonist´s uncertainties, maybe the plot could accomplish in one season what it was not capable of doing in 126 minutes: Win us over instead of forcing us to like it.
8. The Big Lebowski (The Coen Brothers, 1998)
The Big Lebowski, with its hallucinatory logic and irreverent face of vicissitudes, does nothing but lure us into a state of shrill activity and glory devotion.
The Dude is an improper noun for such a wild presence. His aura is one of humid tenderness and confused roar. He is like a sticky, wet hair that falls from your head when you are taking a shower. It gets stuck to your hand in knotted circles. The more you try to smear it against the tile of the bathroom, the more that slippery motherfucker keeps grasping to your fingers in labyrinthine, hairy bindweeds.
The voyage that the Dude undertakes is as violently pathetic as the catalyst that sets it in motion: a blood-eating thug pisses upon the Dude’s rug. The Dude wants compensation for it.
When the announcement of Fargo spinning off into a miniseries was released, the general opinion was that a modern classic was about to be butchered. But it was not. Fargo, the TV show, borrows with mirroring respect storytelling fragments from the core of the original movie, but it boasts a completely different essence and conscience.
The Big Lebowski has all the right equipment to survive a longer version of its journey. It is well sustained with the necessary twists and supporting characters to subsist through the nuclear change of format.
Nevertheless, it is vital that the confluence of the situations remain faithful to the woolliness of the original pitch, and loyal to its surreal momentum. And of course, any kind of restructuring would be futile, if the Dude is not played by…well, the Dude himself (Jeff Bridges).
9. Se7en (David Fincher, 1995)
Many things are born on dark corners: monsters, demons, things from the underworld that are able to spirit themselves through wood and stone. They are the damps of a bitter sorrow. They tear the world from grasp, and still possess the contemptuous solemnity of whispering mumbles of kindness, to those whom they just ripped it from.
There is a knock on the door. Tracy gravitates towards the entrance of her squeamish apartment, carrying her innate, usual sensitive smartness like an entrusted envelope or a cherished ring. She does not asks – “who is it?” Despite the hundreds of warnings bestowed by her husband, her enthroned nobility simply does not allow her to do so.
Behind the door awaits John Doe, the killer.
We never really get to see the killing of Tracy. We know about it, we picture it through splintered, invented vignettes of horrid imagination, thanks to the retelling of the very own perpetrator. This is the wonder of Seven: its vindictive chorus of unseen violence.
A demonized city is covered by an immortal, gloomy blanket of rain and twilight. Two dissimilar detectives are in the lookout for a serial killer. One, a suffocated, middle age cop, curled up in bronze masses of insomnia and despair. He has been intoxicated enough by the alley shadows he has been putting away for years. He is ready to retire into exile, eager to feel protected by the melancholia of his lonesomeness.
The other one is a young pup, greedy to hone his denture towards the purpose of recognition and greatness, notwithstanding, he lacks absent nourishment regarding the elegant madness of the phantoms lurking this city. They feed each other with constant discordance.
They wobble like errant dogs across spectral buildings and outlandish apartments bathed in blood and holy gore. The killer, always one step ahead of them. He wiggles and squirms lithely through hidden passageways like a praetorian eel.
Seven is a film that navigates with unidentified flag between the writings of a classic drama, and the crabbiness of a modern horror story. It is one of the best conversations about untold suffering. In part, due to all the narrative elements being halt into a polished container of character multiplicity. Seven belongs to the ranks of diamond cinema, and it should stay that way. Nonetheless, it never hurts to fantasize from time to time.
10. Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley, 1992)
The Ad Men from Mad Men are always holding a whiskey on the rocks with defying sweetness. They live in the raging 60’s, an epoch of slaying elegance and an era of charitable judgment. The perpetual scent of cigarettes burning is always filling the air they breathe, and they love to suck it in with the sensitive grace of a poet. For them, it tastes of triumph. It is the toasty flavor of bloomed eternity.
Occasionally, their work cascades into loads of fire and zings of anger, but one way or the other, Don Draper and his caravan of radiant men of publicity, always find a way to flow through their offices like an influx of lyricists, ringed by the glow of enchantment.
The salesmen from Glengarry Glen Ross are always holding a spoiled telephone that seems attached to their ear, as if it was a hanging limb, half chopped from their heads. They live in the senseless 90’s, the displeasing times of ramshackle America, home of the thieves of plotting nature, and the land of half wishes and distant illusions.
These men loiter around not through offices, but through boiler rooms fed by the dews of hell. They are enclosed inside cramped rooms of random blues, and confined in vistas of empty hopes. They wag solemn heads of pity, as they wrest to sale slate real-estate. They sell nothing. They look at each other with desensitized eyes, as if they were looking for lost lanterns bobbing through a night fogged by desperation.
This is the daily routine for these men of scattered sales. This is the mindless churning activity of a broken, working-class. This is the beehive of post-modern Americana.
Glengarry Glen Ross is a gritty, cerebral experience about the strolls of indignity, and the sellout of self-respect. With the salesmen of Glengarry Glen Ross, we boogie through an obscure crusade of hidden movements. These are the bowels of a disjointed social system. We feel our lives are at risk, the same way the jobs of these men are on the line.
11. Borat (Larry Charles, 2006)
Borat is a TV personality from Kazakhstan, who travels to the United States to learn with frenzied anticipation, about the striving values and western customs of the North American people. He is curious about their mingling human motion, and the propagandistic machine of glowing dreams that seem to inspirit them, with such gallant force and gaming instinct.
In the process, he finds the meaning of witless America, by falling in love with lifesaver J.C., played with squirting sexuality by Pamela Anderson in Baywatch.
Borat is a paranoid creation. He is a serene vessel of rawness, unusually accommodating to the eccentricity of his own persona. He is a contrived portrayal of animal locomotion, with no coyness about the private organs of a human being, and no contrite awareness for foreigner codes of ethic.
Borat, like the film itself, is a phenomenon of democratic genre: poisonous in his absurdity but seriously smart about the derisiveness of cultures; boorishly misunderstood but daringly pioneering.
The film is simply, an amazing calamity of impenitent mocking.
“Borat’s Television Programming” is a two-part compilation about the sailings of this character through the country, after the events of the movie. However, when released, its morbidity on the civilizing issues of America was far more diluted and deformed, than in those showcased in the original aim of the film.
If remained pure to the complexity of the character and the contradictions of his original journey (marrying Pamela Anderson), Borat, as a TV show, could have provided a sooner and eager openness to such taboo subjects, such as race, sex, and discrimination, in the same manner great TV comedies like Transparent and Looking are doing it today.
12. School of Rock (Richard Linklater, 2003)
School of Rock is an irresistible impulse of pure delight. It is an unrepentant celebration of music, without being a musical. It is an astonishing candid, funny film, without wallowing completely into the realms of comedy.
It is childish, not in encroaching chills of ingenuity but on the fact that it bears fruit of unconventional wisdom, about the perks and tribulations of possessing the soul of a child. It is all the things a family movie should be: endearing in grim visages of disparity.
Dewey Finn is an eternal dreamer. Do not call him a looser so promptly, because in the same way as many misapprehended artists out there, he fodders from the disentangled drowsiness of hope and art. He lives in a constant state of thrive and agitation, believing with imaginative proliferation, that the flame of music that flutters within him, has the necessary strength to reverse the sun and alter the course of a river´s fate if he desires to.
Played by Jack Black with beguiling beat, the character provides arresting moments of charm and reckless performance. The solidly inbuilt manners of Black capture with superb indifference and suggestive sensitiveness, the adroit survival of a faded garage rock star, yearning in silence for success, but trapped deep within, in a pit of dark failure.
He alters the universe around him and everyone in it with shocking insolence. He is so caught up in his own feverish pace that he scarcely listens to the throaty-torch voice of reality, screaming at him with restless tiredness: Grow the fuck up!
All Richard Linklater films deserve narrative expansion through other visual mediums, but in its majority, most of them have a quality of frozen melancholia that should not be touched. It is this little gem, the one that could be considered to have less of that quality, but more of an eminent entertainment.
It is a story of revolutionaries, and yet, the title manifests two of the most discordance words in the English vocabulary for any blossoming spirit of rebellion: School and Rock.
Author Bio: Miguel Guerrero Becerra is a Mexican filmmaker who specializes in developing webseries. He is also a film instructor at two universities in Mexico. His favorite class to teach is writing and directing for television.