Why we love – and hate – movies

1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Jimmy Stewart stars as George Bailey, a small-town Nebraska banker, who longs to escape his conservative life and work as a pre-med student in New York. His visions of the future are altered when an angel (Frank Capra) comes to tell him that his “world” will be a far better place if he takes this promise as his own. Frank Capra’s adaptation of the Frank L. Baum book is a much beloved film. One of my favorite film clips is the confrontation between George and Bedford Falls, where Bedford Falls is run by the trio of Mayor Bailey, United States Senator George Bailey, and Senator Bailey’s brother.

One high-profile stinker of a film is 1995’s hit, Donnie Darko, a movie about a kid (Jake Gyllenhaal) who suspects that a mysterious worm in his bottle is preparing him for a terse end. Critics were unkind to the film, which grossed just $22 million, although the reviews weren’t too bad.

2. Ghost (1990)

When a recently deceased Charles Bukowski (Patrick Swayze) invites a group of ghosts for Thanksgiving dinner in this classic, the skeptical Sam Loomis (Emmylou Harris) is deeply moved by Bukowski’s romantic vision of humanity. Unfortunately, Ghost is an endless sequel and various short films, to the point where the movie runs over an hour and a half.

3. Donnie Darko (2001)

This noirish-y adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel The Rainbow opens with Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) running from the cops who think he has stolen a rocket, and ends with his suicide. Jake Gyllenhaal gets for the most part commendable reviews for his screen turn, but the final sequence set to noise is considered the film’s worst moment.

The National Archives is preserving Hollywood’s archival material for posterity—from the talent tests of an unknown Carrie Fisher to the work of established figures, such as “Donovan Burns, aka.” The director of the acclaimed movie A Raisin in the Sun has committed to donating all of his vaults to the Archives, a kind of digital treat for film fans. He hopes to complete the project in four to five years.

In the meantime, one film folks may want to avoid if they’re less film-savvy is the 1994 David Lynch biopic, Mulholland Drive.

4. Don’t Look Now (1973)

A story that starts off as a cynical fantasy finds itself coming to a disturbing end for lovers Amy (Julie Christie) and Edmund (Donald Sutherland) in this Sirkian horror film.

5. The Art of the Deal (1987)

Michael Douglas attempts to possibly redeem himself, as Donald Trump, in this Disney-produced satire of American politics.

6. Perry Mason: The Series (1965)

Gil Baxter played Perry Mason in this short-lived police series that focused on the solo case of Mason’s latest client. It was a crucial first season that introduced Brad Garrett’s character.

7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The director Steven Spielberg delved into the themes of artificial intelligence and super science in this science fiction love story, which was arguably more influential on pop culture than Star Wars.

8. Cowboy Ninja Viking (2010)

Joel Kinnaman took over the role of “George” Cluttin from Chris Klein, an NCIS star. The end of this gloriously pointless action film comes when a guy believed to be an alien army kills two agents in an interrogation room, sending them tumbling to their deaths in a faux bullet.

9. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

John Carpenter wrote and directed this cult classic about a love triangle set in an alternate version of the western world. Kurt Russell stars as Jack Burton, a bounty hunter who must escape with his girlfriend from a rival couple. Kurt Russell was so well-received for the role of the truck driver who falls for a woman playing a blind woman, that the actresses continued the role into an enduring romantic comedy.

10. Death Proof (2007)

The prequel to Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic Death Proof, this movie received criticism for attempting to mix action and comedy in a movie that didn’t deliver. The moody shoot-out and car chase scenes that Tarantino fans loved are nowhere to be found.

11. Nacho

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