5. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
The expression “like Harold and Maude”, coined by this movie, is attributed to a friendship or love-affair between a very young man and a much older woman. The two main protagonists are not only very different in age, but also in their personalities. Young Harold, offbeat, self-indulgent, suicidal, is almost the exact opposite of Maude, who is vibrant and full of life.
Following the pair on their “adventures” is both hilarious and outrageous. To see the fearless Maude gleefully deal with police officers, or responding to a suspicious priest whose car she had “borrowed”, or to pose nude for an elderly ice sculptor, to ensure he preserves the memory of the female body, or to merely rejoice in the beauties of nature, is an inspiration to viewers at any stage of life. Harold’s numerous fake suicides are priceless, but he eventually meets his match in a young date sent by a matrimony agency.
Harold and Maude is definitely not a film for everyone. It demands an open mind and a certain taste for films with a bizarre way about them. Goofy, yet delightful humor abounds in this film. It became an instant classic immediately after its release in 1971. Since then it has gained cult status. Viewers will understand why, even some 45 years later.
4. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012)
Directed by Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two pre-teen lovers who run away from home together. The star cast consists of Anderson favorites like Bill Murray, Francis McDormand, Jason Schwartzman along with Edward Norton, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton. The script is straightforward but the approach is extraordinary.
The movie is gorgeous in its depiction of the purity and naiveté of the kids. Anderson shows that you don’t need to know a character’s entire past to understand them or their motives. Everybody has a somber attitude and some sort of an unfortunate story. Their acting style shows that they’re not blessed with cheerfulness nor completely sorrow, but simply in a gray area in life where they’re unsure about what they want.
The narrative maintains a sense of realism, but there are some funny moments of unrealistic happenings. It’s really something else. Sometimes we need to let go of rules and expectations and let the story be told in a fantastically exaggerated way. The look and feel are classic Wes Anderson, and it’s surely one of his best recent films.
3. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
The Vampire movie is one of the most overblown in the industry. Yet this movie seems to be highly praised, and it’s not hard to understand why: Eli, the 12 year old vampire is a highly appealing character, with an insight that contradicts her fragile age. It’s the intensity of her role that carries the movie.
The movie is Swedish, and its tone is pretty dark. The other main character is a young boy named Oskar, a 12 year old introvert who lives with his single mother. He lives in a fantasy world, where he slays villains with his blade. A new family moves in next door, and little else is revealed until a serial killer strikes, draining the blood of his victims. Eventually, Oskar meets Eli and they form up an unlikely friendship.
The plot of the movie works on many different levels. Some of the horror movie special effects seemed corny, almost unnecessary, but the relationship of the main characters is the central thing that drives the movie forward.
Production values are outstanding, with technical aspects; lighting, original music by Johan Soderqvist, and Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography, combining in perfect sync to produce a Hitchockian narrative that somehow brings light into what could have been a dark and gloomy story.
2. Submarine (Richard Ayoade, 2010)
Submarine is a movie about two unusual teenagers named Oliver and Jordana as they fall in love. This isn’t your typical teenage love that is sweet and perfect. These are teenagers that fall into love and have to deal with real problems at home. Oliver has to deal with his parents considering a divorce. Oliver’s mother still has affections towards a past lover who just moved in next door.
Jordana has the stress of her mother being diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease and is having a bad time accepting it. It’s a sensible relationship where the kids don’t try to hide the problems they’re facing at home. Fans of Wes Anderson will feel on familiar ground in this quirky and tender story as it feels very similar to Anderson’s own style.
The film is strangely comic and although sounding as though it’s going to be the usual clichéd coming of age story, Submarine saves itself from this dreaded common ground by it’s refreshing sense of humor and truth to the thoughts and emotions of adolescents around the same age.
In short, it’s a beautifully amusing and sincere take on young love and is probably the most honest British film for a long, long time.
1. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
Many people who saw The Graduate on its original release, including renowned critics like Roger Ebert, have misunderstood the main point of the film under belief that the main protagonist represents an icon that is supposed to glorify the rebellion of the sixties youth. The Graduate is not that kind of a film. The viewer is not supposed to feel happy for the main characters after the final scene.
The main character is supposed to represent the alienated state of a college graduate stuck in between adolescence and maturity, as he feels estranged from both generations. He doesn’t know what he wants out of life, and thinks that marrying an older woman will be the solution to this problem.
This story is not dated nor is it only appropriate for the 60s, it can be applied to anyone who is confused about what to do with his or her lives. Nichols’ fantastic direction enhances the complex examination of disorientation and uncertainty. He easily switches in and out of focus at various depths of each shot to highlight certain characters and lines.
It goes without saying that the performances by Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft are phenomenal. Add Paul Simon’s unforgettable Sound of Silence, Scarborough Fair, and the instrumentals of what would become Mrs. Robinson, and you have the sounds and visuals that define one of the most memorable films of all time.
Author Bio: Ivan Saric is a 23-year-old philosophy and history student living in Split, Croatia. He’s an aspiring film critic who writes cinematic reviews for several sites, and is actively involved in great amount of various film-related activities.